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.)


Local Utilities Raise Awareness Of Utility Worker Imposters

Tennessee American Water, Chattanooga Gas and EPB are raising awareness of utility worker imposters. Imposters may try to scam customers either in-person at their home or business or by phone.  When coming to a private residence or business to perform work, legitimate utility workers with Chattanooga Gas, EPB and Tennessee American Water always will wear a uniform ... (click for more)

Terry Todd To Lead Expansion Of Reliant Bank Into Chattanooga

CUBN ) (“Commerce Union Bancshares,” or the “Company”), parent of Reliant Bank, announced today that it has hired Terry M. Todd to lead the Company’s expansion into Chattanooga, TN, one of the state’s fastest growing metropolitan markets. Reliant Bank’s new office will be located in the Republic Centre, 633 Chestnut St, Suite 630, Chattanooga, TN 37450." data-reactid="6" style="color: ... (click for more)

Commissioner Boyd Asks County Auditor To Get Detailed Data On Visitors Bureau Spending

County Commission Finance Committee Chairman Tim Boyd said he is asking County Auditor Jenneth Randall to supply him with details about spending at the Chattanooga Visitors Bureau, including actual credit card and travel expense statements. He said he also wanted copies of contracts for office renovations made to the Suntrust Building 18th floor where the CVB has offices and all ... (click for more)

Erlanger Reports Dramatic Increase In Flu-Like Illnesses

The number of influenza-like illnesses treated at Erlanger Health System shows a dramatic increase compared to this time last year.  Erlanger reported treating 156 patients with flu like illnesses between Feb. 12 and 18 of this year. This represents a significant increase from the seven cases reported during the same week last year and 15 cases reported approximately a month ... (click for more)

Getting The Message

Our school age youth have inspired me with their responses during “Q and A” sessions after my readings as a volunteer during African American History Celebrations and Read across America Celebration, too.  Before this school year, I read to classes at Orchard Knob Elementary School and at Rivermont Elementary School, here in Hamilton County.   Their answers to factual ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Marshall’s 3% Folly

The National Health Interview Survey is believed to be the best gauge of health and behaviors in the United States. It is under the umbrella of the nation’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so first let me share that the figures I am going to present are directly attributed to what is the best source believed to be out there. I didn’t make these numbers up and I had nothing ... (click for more)