A former Hunton & Williams partner was sentenced today to 70 months in federal prison for using his firm’s laptop to download and store videos of child pornography.
The lawyer, Emerson Briggs, who made partner at Hunton & Williams in 2003, pleaded guilty in September to one count of receiving child pornography. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia also sentenced Briggs, 41, to 10 years of supervised release and ordered him to pay a $12,500 fine.
Briggs has been in custody since his plea hearing. Steptoe & Johnson partner Bruce Bishop, who represented Briggs, declined to comment. Briggs is “ashamed and remorseful about his past actions,” his wife wrote in a letter to the judge. Briggs entered counseling after losing his job at Hunton & Williams.
Government prosecutors say Briggs, a Maryland resident, admitted to downloading pornographic videos at his Hunton & Williams office on K Street between November 2005 and April 2006. Some of the videos involved minors under the age of 12, said Wendy Waldron, a special assistant U.S. attorney in the child exploitation and obscenity section.
Briggs was free for two years after the FBI seized his firm’s laptop. Bishop argued for Briggs’s release pending sentencing, saying Briggs is a first-time offender with no criminal history who posed no danger to the community. Briggs, the lawyer said in court papers, has never “had or attempted any inappropriate contact with a minor, online or otherwise,” according to court papers. Bishop also argued the receipt of child pornography is not a crime of violence even though Congress has designated it as such.
But Kollar-Kotelly was unmoved. “There is no question that these videos involve physical violence, and that the defendant, and all other defendants who are similarly situated, create the demand for this conduct,” Kollar-Kotelly wrote in an opinion last month in which she ordered Briggs held pending sentencing.