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Pembroke man appealing child porn case to U.S. District Court

A Pembroke man convicted in 2010 of possessing child pornography is appealing his case to U.S. District Court, saying the police were not justified in searching his home after a neighbor saw two images of nude girls in his garage.

Jack Ward has unsuccessfully made the same argument to the state Supreme Court, and now he is asking a federal court judge to consider whether the state courts erred.

Ward, 55, initially filed a motion for more time to prepare that habeas corpus appeal, saying that he suffers from medical conditions, including epilepsy, that affect his “thinking and memory.”

But in considering that motion, U.S. judge Landya McCafferty ordered that Ward’s request should be considered a petition for habeus corpus. The court has not yet ruled on whether to hear the case.

Ward, who is representing himself, was arrested in 2008, about a year after a neighbor told the police he had seen two printed images of nude girls in Ward’s garage. While the police executed a search warrant and seized Ward’s computer in September 2007, the computer sat at the state forensics lab for more than a year before it was tested. After the police said they found nearly 50 child pornography images on the computer, Ward was arrested in December 2008.

He was found guilty of 13 counts of possessing child pornography following a 2010 jury trial and sentenced to serve between three and 14 years.

In his appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, Ward argued that the police had not established probable cause to justify searching his residence. And he said the pictures in his garage did not suggest he had child pornography in his home.

But the court disagreed, rejecting the appeal and noting that Ward’s neighbor testified that the images appeared to be printed from a computer. The neighbor also said he had seen computers in Ward’s home but not in his garage, according to the decision.

“When this information is viewed in a common-sense manner, we find that it was reasonable for the magistrate to infer that evidence of child pornography would be found on the defendant’s computer or in his home,” the decision says.

In his original motion for more time to prepare a habeas corpus appeal, Ward said his epilepsy, which causes convulsions and loss of consciousness, and lack of legal knowledge would keep him from preparing a defense in the time it would take a person without his condition.

Ward argued that several of his constitutional rights have been violated and also asserted that his attorney “unreasonably” handled his case.

(Tricia L. Nadolny can be reached at 369-3306 or tnadolny@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @tricia_nadolny.)

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