In a blatant case of law gone mad, an American prisoner accused of child molestation has been allowed to view videos he made of the abuse while sitting in his jail cell.
Why, you quite rightly ask? Because he's his own lawyer and therefore has the right to review evidence for his impending trial.
The Associated Press reports that authorities in Washington have expressed their outrage at the situation. "The whole thing is just dirty," said Pierce County Sheriff's Detective Ed Troyer.
The fact that the accused is allowed to view the videos results from a 2007 Washington Supreme Court ruling which states that upon request, prosecutors must give defence lawyers copies of evidence used to support child pornography charges.
The court's 8-1 decision said that granting copies of the materials was essential in order that defence lawyers, their investigators and defendants could seek to challenge the evidence.
The Supreme Court established guidelines for handling the material, including that it should only be shown to defendants under the supervision of counsel.
The glaring problem in this case is that the defendant is counsel.
Nevertheless, the judge in this particular matter has allowed the defendant/counsel to view the materials at the jail, albeit barring him from being alone when he does so.
Under the judge's directions, he must watch the videos in a room visible to prison officers, and the jail requires him to adjust his computer screen so other inmates don't see.
But according to prosecutors, these rules don't take away from the absurdity of the situation.
"We have to disclose when we intend to introduce cocaine in a drug case, but we don't give the defendant a kilo to take home and check out," said Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. "It is not necessary for the defendant to view the child porn himself to assist in his defence."
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