The attorney for a retired Tucson police officer indicted on child-pornography charges is challenging a federal law that requires his client to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.
Michael Piccarreta contends the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act is unconstitutional as a whole and as it applies to his client, Jefferson Sutton Stahl, because it prevents individual judges from determining whether electronic monitoring is needed.
"While I think this act is good politics, it's probably bad constitutional law," Piccarreta said Tuesday in U.S. District Court.
The Adam Walsh Act, named for a Florida boy who was abducted from a mall in 1981 and later found murdered, was signed into law in 2006 and applies to all sex crimes. Among its provisions is a requirement that defendants out of custody be subjected to electronic monitoring.
Stahl, 62, was indicted in January on three counts of possession of child pornography and one count of receipt of child pornography.
His is alleged to have purchased four DVDs containing child pornography in June, one year after retiring from the Tucson Police Department following a 32-year career.
Court records indicate Stahl began communicating online in June 2008 with an undercover U.S. Postal Inspector operating an Internet forum described as "a special group for daddys who love young little munchkins!"
Stahl paid $100 for the DVDs, and after receiving them in the mail in August his home was raided by federal agents, who found the DVDs had already been removed from their envelope, court records show.
Agents also found more than 500 images and 24 videos of child pornography on computers and computer files in Stahl's home, court records show. During the search Stahl voluntarily told agents "this is something I've had an attraction to for a long time, but was able to suppress it." Sine his retirement, he had "given in" to his desires, according to court records.
Piccarreta told U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Ferraro deciding whether a defendant requires electronic monitoring should be up to the judge, not up to legislation.
"I feel it's inappropriate for Congress to limit judicial power," he said.
Electronic monitoring is an essential part of the pretrial release process for people accused of sex crimes, Assistant U.S. Attorney Carin Duryee said.
Duryee says Stahl is a flight risk because, as a retiree, he has few ties to the Tucson community. Stahl is banned from accessing the Internet, so the monitoring could also determine if he went to a library or other location with Internet access, she said.
"These crimes are predatory," Duryee said. "It's predatory behavior whether it happens behind a computer or on the street."
Reporter Brian J. Pedersen: firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4224.