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Utah Supreme Court overturns child porn conviction saying it’s double jeopardy

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Supreme Court has overturned a man’s conviction on child pornography related charges, ruling it is essentially double jeopardy.

D. Chris Robertson was convicted in federal court for possession of child pornography. He was then prosecuted by the Utah Attorney General’s Office for sexual exploitation of a minor.

In a ruling handed down late Tuesday night, the Utah Supreme Court overturned Robertson’s state conviction, “because the record shows that the state prosecution is based on the same conduct that was at issue in the initial federal prosecution…”

The ruling partially overturns prior thinking by the justices on the concepts of double-jeopardy and dual sovereignty.

Robertson was arrested in 2009 after co-workers discovered him watching illicit images at work. According to FOX 13 reports from the time, evidence included more than 25,000 pictures and more than 400 videos of child pornography on his work computer.

He was initially charged in federal court, but sentenced to a week in jail and a fine. The state of Utah pursued more charges for the same offense, and he was convicted in a bench trial and ordered to serve up to 20 years in prison.

Robertson appealed his state conviction, arguing double jeopardy because of the state and federal charges. In the ruling, Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew Durrant gave a detailed explanation of dual sovereignty of the courts and double jeopardy, before overturning an appellate court ruling that upheld Robertson’s conviction.

“The evidence of criminal conduct supporting the federal prosecution encompassed the evidence of criminal conduct used to support the subsequent Utah prosecution. Thus, Mr. Robertson was prosecuted for the same conduct, constituting the ‘same offense,’ twice,” Justice Durrant wrote.

Read the Utah Supreme Court’s ruling here: