Acquitted Friday of child pornography charges, Leo Flynn said he will return to practicing law now that his own legal troubles are over.
"This just reaffirms why I became a lawyer. That's why I'm going to continue to do what I do," he said outside the courtroom.
The 62-year-old defense lawyer faced two counts of distribution and one count each for receipt, possession and access with intent to view child pornography. Flynn's lawyer, Rory Durkin, convinced the jury that each time Flynn downloaded the illegal images and videos, he was doing so in order to provide legal advice to clients.
South Dakota child sexual exploitation laws protect lawyers - as well as police officers, social workers and others - from prosecution if they were performing "official duties."
The case began in June 2009 when local Internet Crimes Against Children detectives downloaded illegal videos from Flynn's computer using the file-sharing program Limewire. That formed the basis for the two distribution charges, but Flynn said he had no idea Limewire automatically shared files.
"Sometimes, the federal government overreaches and it's unfair," Durkin said.
Sioux Falls lawyer Mike Butler, who assisted in Flynn's defense, called the not-guilty verdict a "huge decision" for defendants charged with distributing child pornography to online investigators.
In closing arguments Friday morning, prosecutor Richard Newberry said Flynn's actions and his statements to police pointed to a sexual, not professional, interest in child pornography. In a recorded interview when Flynn first was confronted, he told investigators his "life is over" and that he was going to prison.
"These are the honest words he gave at the time he was first confronted," Newberry told jurors. "These are not the statements of a lawyer who believes he's working for a client. ... These are the statements of a man who knows he's been caught."
Flynn told jurors Thursday that his woe-is-me statements were sarcasm.
Flynn's lawyer friends used to call him the "perv attorney" because he defended a lot of people accused of sex crimes. Having experienced such a case from the defendant's chair, Flynn said Friday that the types of cases he takes might be changing.
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