Monday, June 30, 2008

United States Department of Justice Criminal Division.

Wei Xiang reports from the DOJ:

In the realm of criminal law, sophistication is generally attributed
to Wall Street securities fraudsters. However, it applies all the
same to child pornographers. Thanks to EJF and the generosity of its
donors, I have the privilege of combating their savvy at the Child
Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the United States Department of Justice Criminal Division.

These offenders must be savvy because the mandatory minimum sentences
they face are severe (or rather, quite proportional to the harms they
perpetuate). Hence most of my projects have been research on
procedural and evidentiary issues involving defendants' use of
technology to evade capture or to preclude admissibility of electronic
evidence. For example, my first memorandum concerned the execution of
search warrants on computer hard-drives. Normally, searches must be
particularized to areas on a premise where the object sought is
logically likely to be found. But on computers where possessors of
child pornography alter file extensions and disguise file and folder
names, how can law enforcement ever find evidence if it searched only
for files entitled "pre-teen sex.jpeg"? For a former computer science
major, the opportunity to help the law develop in the face of
technological advancement has been fascinating.

However, I have to observe such development from afar because CEOS is
part of main Justice and its cases are all over the country rather
than in a particular federal district. The flip side is that I have
gotten a taste of the intricacies of forum selection by working on
prosecutions in numerous jurisdictions from Massachusetts to Alaska.
And given CEOS's advisory role to the 93 U.S. Attorney's Offices, I
have the opportunity to see a much wider range of issues than even
those that arise from CEOS's own cases. Therefore, this internship
has been quite the eye-opening experience, and I am privileged to work
with such a great group of people on such a worthy cause; for that I
am thankful to both CEOS and EJF.

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