Bloomberg News

Facebook Claimant’s Lawyer Must Pay Award in Child Porn Lawsuit

October 22, 2011

Oct. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Dean Boland, the new lawyer for Facebook claimant Paul Ceglia, was ordered to pay $300,000 in an unrelated lawsuit over his use of explicit “morphed” images that he created to help in his defense of people charged with possessing child pornography.

Boland, a Lakewood, Ohio, lawyer who specializes in technology cases, was ordered by a federal judge to pay the money to two unidentified minors whose stock photos Boland used to create the images of children engaged in sexual conduct. Boland used the images to aid his testimony as an expert witness in courts in Ohio and Oklahoma.

“The court concludes that a constitutionally effective defense to a child pornography charge does not include the right to victimize additional minors by creating new child pornography in the course of preparing and presenting a defense,” U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland said in an opinion, rejecting Boland’s claim that his use of the images was constitutionally protected.

Boland used the morphed images to show how difficult it is for people possessing child pornography to determine whether the images depict real children or were created artificially, according to Polster’s Oct. 20 opinion. Boland said he plans to appeal the judgment.

“This ruling has the potential to affect the ability of people to get fair trials across the country,” Boland said yesterday in a phone interview.

Fourth Lead Lawyer

Ceglia, the New York man who claims a 2003 contract entitles him to half the holdings of Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg, hired Boland as his new lawyer, his fourth lead counsel since filing the lawsuit in 2010. Boland said he has been working on the case for a few weeks. He filed papers yesterday in federal court in Buffalo, New York, to represent Ceglia.

Boland, a former state prosecutor, said he isn’t troubled that several lawyers have left the case. He said he has experience litigating cases involving computer images, document authentication and other forensic issues that have been raised in the Ceglia case.

Boland said he has represented clients in technology- related cases throughout the country, including defendants wrongly charged with possessing child pornography.

“There are multiple people walking free yesterday who were wrongly charged with a pretty heinous crime” because of his efforts, he said. According to Boland’s website, he has written and lectured extensively on technology and the law.

Contract, E-Mails

Ceglia, who is currently in Ireland, has produced a contract and e-mails that he said prove his claim to ownership in Facebook.

The social networking company, based in Palo Alto, California, has accused Ceglia of fabricating the documents and has called his suit a fraud.

Both sides agree that Zuckerberg signed a contract with Ceglia in 2003, when Zuckerberg was a freshman at Harvard University, to do computer coding for StreetFax.com, a company Ceglia was trying to start. Ceglia claims the contract included a provision giving him a partnership stake in Facebook, now the world’s biggest social networking site.

The company said its computer experts have found the genuine contract between Ceglia and Zuckerberg, which concerns only the StreetFax work, on one of Ceglia’s computers. The contract makes no mention of Facebook, according to the company.

‘Meat’ of Case

“My client is very anxious to get to the meat of the case,” Boland said.

According to the judge’s decision in the lawsuit over the altered photos, Boland used the images to aid his expert testimony in three criminal prosecutions for possession of child pornography. In one hearing, prosecutors questioned whether Boland’s use of the images violated the law against possession of child pornography.

In 2007, Boland entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with prosecutors in Cleveland, avoiding a criminal conviction. As part of the agreement, Boland apologized in a local legal publication and admitted the images violated federal law, according to an appeals court decision.

That same year, the guardians of the children whose photographs were used sued Boland for digitally altering the stock shots. Polster dismissed the claims, calling it a “difficult and troubling case.” That decision was reversed on appeal and the case was returned to Polster, who granted summary judgment for the two children on Oct. 20, awarding $150,000 to each.

The civil case is Doe v. Boland, 07-CV-02787, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio (Cleveland). The Ceglia case is Ceglia v. Zuckerberg, 1:10-cv-00569, U.S. District Court, Western District of New York (Buffalo).

--Editors: Mary Romano, Michael Hytha

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Van Voris in New York at rvanvoris@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.


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