From the confines of a Kentucky prison, former Madison County attorney Gary Peel continues to fight his 2007 criminal convictions.
Peel was convicted on bankruptcy fraud and child pornography possession charges after being accused of blackmailing his ex-wife with nude photographs of her then-minor sister, who he contends he had a consensual sexual affair with.
Since then, Peel has submitted several pro se filings in an attempt to get his 12-year prison sentence overturned, including those seeking rehearings, recalls and certificates of appealability from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
He also unsuccessfully petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari.
Peel in June asked the federal appeals panel to recall mandates it previously handed down over his convictions. And earlier this month, he filed a motion to consolidate the three cases he has pending before the panel, all of which stem from his 2007 convictions.
In his most recent motion, Peel asked the panel to consolidate his cases for the purpose of evaluating his pending motions to recall its previous mandates and for an order issuing him a certificate of appealability, which a district court judge refused to do.
He asserts that consolidation would make sense as the issues in his recall request are identical in all three cases and his request for a certificate of appealability is intertwined with two of the mandates he wants recalled.
Peel claims the federal appeals panel should recall its 2010 and 2012 rulings in his case in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in United States v. Stevens, which he contends “exposed this court’s fatally flawed analysis of” his child pornography convictions.
The Stevens court, he asserts, made it clear that child pornography laws can’t apply to situations where minors weren’t sexually abused or exploited during the production process.
In asking for the recall, Peel argues that his prosecution for child pornography violated his due process rights because when he took the nude photos in 1974, the age of consent in Illinois was 16 and there was no state child pornography law on the books at that time.
He contends that convictions for possession of child pornography should be reversed “because the alleged ‘victim’ was not a minor, by federal definition, when the photos were produced, no minor was abused or exploited in the production process, and the photos were not integral to criminal conduct,” all of which he asserts are prerequisites under Stevens.
In July, the government filed a response in opposition to Peel’s motion, arguing that there are no exceptional circumstances in Peel’s case that merit the recall of federal appellate court mandates.
The government also claims in its response that Stevens “has no impact” on Peel’s argument because it “reaffirms the long-standing rule that child pornography enjoys no First Amendment protection.”
Electronic court records show that as of today, no orders or rulings had been entered on Peel’s motions.
Besides his ongoing and so far unsuccessful attempts to have his prison sentence changed, Peel is also facing attorney discipline. His law license was suspended on an interim basis in 2008 as a result of his convictions.
In February, a hearing board of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) recommended that he be disbarred from the practice of law. The Illinois Supreme Court has not yet entered an order disciplining Peel.
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