Lee Davis: 6th Circuit Appeals Court Upholds Child Pornographer’s Life Sentence

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - by Lee Davis
Lee Davis
Lee Davis
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld the life sentence of a Jackson, Tennessee man who pleaded guilty to the sexual exploitation of minors and in trafficking child pornography. Stephen Lynn Hammonds, 45, argued on appeal that his 2010 sentence by U.S. District Court Judge Bernice Donald of Memphis was unreasonable and excessive.

Hammonds argued that mandatory guidelines imposed a sentence that was too harsh for the crime that was committed. Hammonds was originally arrested as part of a larger sting operation in 2009 by the Memphis office of the FBI. 

According to court records, Hammonds told FBI agents (posing as children) that he wanted to meet and have sex with them and that he had done so in the past on multiple occasions with his own teenage stepdaughter.
Agents with a warrant searched his home and found dozens of files containing child pornography. He then pled guilty to federal charges six months later. 

This wasn’t Hammonds’ first time in trouble with the law. In 1998 he was arrested on charges of statutory rape and incest with a young girl between the ages of 13 and 15. This previous convicted served to enhance the guidelines for his federal punishment and led to his life imprisonment. 
In his appeal he pointed to a psychologist’s report saying that he was only a medium-low risk of reoffending and he had accepted responsibility for his actions and even helped agents find and convict another child pornographer. 

The government argued that Hammonds had bragged about his earlier conviction for incest and used it while looking for new targets of abuse. Judge Donald declared Hammonds to be “particularly dangerous” and deemed him beyond the point of rehabilitation. She said that he needed to be permanently separated from society and the children he might place at risk.

Writing for a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Judge Julia Gibbons said Judge Donald did not abuse her discretion in doling out the tough sentence. “The district court did consider the mitigating factors in the case,” Gibbons said, “but found, appropriately and within its discretion, that concerns about the seriousness of the crime and the need to protect the public were paramount.”

Here is the full opinion of the court: United States v. Stephen Hammonds.

(Lee Davis is a Chattanooga attorney who can be reached at lee@davis-hoss.com or at 266-0605.)


SIGNIX Hires New Vice President Of Partner Development

SIGNiX , a company that provides secure and simple digital signature services announced the hiring of its new Vice President of Partner Development, Leonora Zilkha Williamson. Ms. Williamson will work to identify and target potential partners in a variety of industries.  SIGNiX has long been a partner-centric company that focuses on providing total solutions to software ... (click for more)

Northgate And Hamilton Place Malls Offer Free Trick Or Treating

Northgate & Hamilton Place Mall Stores are offering free family fun  with trick or treating at participating mall stores on Friday, Oct. 31.  It will last from 6 p.m. until close while supplies last. (click for more)

Additions And Improvements At Camp Jordan Arena Coming Soon

Additions and improvements are coming to Camp Jordan Arena in the near future. At the Thursday night meeting of the East Ridge city council, approval was given for buying new playground equipment. It will come from Gametime, a locally-based company. The VP of Marketing lives in East Ridge and made a proposal to set up the playground at Camp Jordan so his company could use it for ... (click for more)

Tribute Service For Luther Masingill Held At Historic Engel Stadium

It took a place as big as historic Engel Stadium for Chattanooga to say goodbye to their beloved Luther. Hundreds came Thursday afternoon to pay tribute to Luther Masingill who died early Monday morning after a radio career that spanned an amazing 74 years. It was clear from all who spoke that he was considered not only a radio personality, but also a role model. One after ... (click for more)

Not Everything Has Been Done To Save Hutcheson

I am a resident of Walker County and I have a personal belief that a hospital ranks equal to other basic services a community should offer (like police, fire, emergency services, school systems, government, etc.). I am not privy to all the management and financial conundrums concerning the feasibility of maintaining and growing Hutcheson, and as a private citizen I don’t believe ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Pete Carroll’s Philosophy

Pete Carroll, the head football coach of the Seattle Seahawks, has a deep belief that he can change people by simply listening to them and then making suggestions on how they can get what they really want. If the people Carroll who can influence win, Carroll wins, and remember his team won last year’s Super Bowl with his methods.   When asked for example, here is what ... (click for more)