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In re Boland

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

January 3, 2020

In re: Dean Maynard Boland, Debtor.
v.
Dean Maynard Boland, Defendant-Appellant/Cross-Appellee. Jane Doe; Jane Roe, Plaintiffs-Appellees/Cross-Appellants,

          Argued: December 11, 2019

          Appeal from the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Sixth Circuit; No. 17-8019-Beth A. Buchanan, Scott W. Dales, and Guy R. Humphrey, Bankruptcy Appellate Panel Judges.

          United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Ohio at Cleveland; Nos. 1:16-ap-01058; 1:16-bk-10250-Jessica E. Price Smith, Judge.

         ARGUED:

          Stephen D. Hobt, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellant/Cross-Appellee.

          Jonathan E. Rosenbaum, Elyria, Ohio, for Appellees/Cross-Appellants.

         ON BRIEF:

          Stephen D. Hobt, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellant/Cross-Appellee.

          Jonathan E. Rosenbaum, Elyria, Ohio, for Appellees/Cross-Appellants.

          Before: McKEAGUE, BUSH, and NALBANDIAN, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          Mc KEAGUE, Circuit Judge.

          This is the final chapter in the story of Dean Boland, the lawyer and expert witness who unfortunately chose to create child pornography in defense of his clients charged with possessing child pornography. Two of the children victimized by Boland won a $300, 000 civil judgment against him, which he tried to wipe away ("discharge") in bankruptcy. A judgment can be discharged in bankruptcy, provided the judgment wasn't the result of the debtor knowingly injuring someone. The bankruptcy court here discharged the civil judgment, but only because it bought Boland's implausible pleas of ignorance. That was clear error, so we REVERSE.

         I

         The story begins in 2004, when Boland was serving as a technology expert for Oklahoma and Ohio defendants charged with possessing child pornography. Boland provided his clients a simple defense: doubt. Here's how it went. Boland created "before-and-after" exhibits. The "before" exhibits were innocuous stock photographs Boland found online of two young girls, Jane Doe and Jane Roe. Boland manipulated ("morphed") these photographs on his computer to create the "after" exhibits: images of Doe and Roe engaged in sex acts. If Boland could whip up doctored pornography this easily, the argument went, then it's possible the pornography his clients downloaded was doctored, ...


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