Login

Login

To access this feature, please Log In or Register for your Casebriefs Account.

Add to Library

Add

Search

Login
Register

United States v. Dauray

    Brief Fact Summary. The possession of individual, unbound depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct was the reason for the apprehension of a man in a state park.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Within the meaning of the federal Protection of Children Against Sexual Exploitation Act, individual pictures are not “other matter which contain any visual depiction”.

    Facts. The arrest of Charles Dauray (D) was due to the thirteen individual unbound pictures of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct that were in his possession. These pictures were not in a bound volume and were either separate pieces of magazine pages or photocopies of such pages. The possession of these pictures contravened the federal statute prohibiting the possession of “three or more books, magazines, periodicals, films, video tape [sic], or other matter” if such materials had passed through interstate commerce and “contained any visual depiction” of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. It was on this that Dauray (D) was charged but he contended against this allegation on the ground that each item in his possession was a “visual depiction,” which disqualified each item and that from being “other matter” that “contain(s) any visual depiction”. The rule of lenity was not applied by the trial court in reading the statute and thereby did not grant Dauray’s (D) motion. Daury (D) was found guilty by the jury but he appealed.

    Issue. (Jacobs, J.) No.  Within the meaning of the federal Protection of Children Against Sexual Exploitation Act, individual pictures are not “other matter which contain any visual depiction”. To interpret statutes, using plain meaning is the first step but in this particular case, it yields no clear answers.  The meaning attached to “other matter” or “contain” in the dictionary is in consonance with both parties readings of the statute, and there was no judicial precedent of the case that answered the question presented by this case. This is also compounded based on the fact that Congress did not define “other matter” or “contain”. Cannons of construction are used next by the courts in interpreting statutes while legislative history are consulted by the courts as last resort in interpreting statutes. But in this case, history shed no light on the meaning of “other matter” or “contain”. The only conclusion the court can come to is that the statute violated Dauray’s (D) due process right to be prosecuted under a statute which gave him fair warning of the proscribed conduct. The requirement of the rule of lenity is for the ambiguities in this statute to be resolved in the favor of Dauray (D). Reversed

    Dissent. (Katzmann, J) The requirement of the rule of lenity is that “a grievous ambiguity or uncertainty in the statute” and this standard is not present here.

    Discussion. This case was resolved by the majority on the panel of the Second Circuit by going back to the rule of lenity. The statute cannot be enforced consistently with due process in a situation where by the court can only guess at the legislature’s meaning in a criminal statute.


    Create New Group

      Casebriefs is concerned with your security, please complete the following