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.)


GDOL To Host Recruitment For Express Staffing In LaFayette

The Georgia Department of Labor’s (GDOL) LaFayette Career Center will help Express Staffing recruit 100 automotive production employees to work for Nissin Brake in Rock Spring. The recruitment will be held on  Friday, May 5 , from  10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  at the career center located at 200 West Villanow St. in LaFayette. Due to U.S. Occupational Safety and ... (click for more)

Tennessee Unemployment Rates Fall In Most Counties

Tennessee’s county unemployment rates for March 2017 have decreased in 91 counties, increased in three, and remained the same in one, according to data released on Thursday by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD). For the month of March, Davidson County has the state’s lowest major metropolitan rate at 3.4 percent, a decline from 3.6 percent of ... (click for more)

County School Teachers To Get 3% Raise Under Balanced County School Budget

Hamilton County Schools teachers are slated to get three percent pay increases under the balanced budget approved by the School Board on Thursday afternoon. That comes on top of a two percent hike last year. Lee McDade, assistant superintendent, said a large influx of cash came from the state, and Governor Bill Haslam outlined that it was to raise the pay level for teachers. ... (click for more)

Law Enforcement Shuts Down Convenience Store Near College Hill Courts As Public Nuisance

Law enforcement on Thursday took steps to shut down a convenience store near the College Hill Courts as a public nuisance. The action was taken after District Attorney Neal Pinkston filed a petition with Criminal Court Judge Tom Greenholtz about the Westside Shop. The store is operated by Salma Ambo, and the real property is owned by AAA Investment Properties LLC. The petition ... (click for more)

White Coat Syndrome And The Medical System - And Response (2)

Today I wish to share what I am feeling as a patient in our medical system. I am too old to put on airs at this point, and this is too pervasive of a problem for me to contain.   As I enter my AARP years, I am faced with so many medical encounters that evoke all kinds of uncomfortable feelings. I dread physician’s appointments riddled with government regulatory hypocrisy, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: County Commissioners Not Getting Bang For Their School Bucks

The Hamilton County School Board passed a balanced budget to present to the County Commission at a Special Called Meeting on Thursday night. They also attached a prioritized list of $24.5 million in critical needs for the County Commission to consider that will never see the light of day. The long and short of it is easy to see -- the County Commissioners have had enough. It ... (click for more)