854 F.2d 33 (4th Cir. 1988), 88-5011, United States v. Goodwin

Docket Nº:88-5011.
Citation:854 F.2d 33
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Defendant-Appellee, v. Ralph E. GOODWIN, Plaintiff-Appellant.
Case Date:August 04, 1988
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Page 33

854 F.2d 33 (4th Cir. 1988)

UNITED STATES of America, Defendant-Appellee,


Ralph E. GOODWIN, Plaintiff-Appellant.

No. 88-5011.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

August 4, 1988

Argued June 23, 1988.

J. Frederick Sinclair (Cohen, Dunn & Sinclair, on brief), for plaintiff-appellant.

Paul G. Cassell, Sp. Asst. U.S. Atty. (Henry E. Hudson, U.S. Atty., on brief), for defendant-appellee.

Page 34

Before PHILLIPS, and ERVIN, Circuit Judges, and BUTZNER, Senior Circuit judge.

ERVIN, Circuit Judge:

Ralph Goodwin appeals his child pornography conviction under 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2252(a)(2). 1 He challenges the anticipatory search warrant that allowed postal inspectors to seize the pornographic material almost contemporaneously with its delivery. He also asserts that the government's conduct leading to his arrest was so outrageous as to violate his due process rights. Finding no merit in these claims, we affirm the conviction below, 674 F.Supp. 1211.


Goodwin's prosecution arose out of the National Child Pornography Reverse Sting Project known as "Operation Looking Glass." This program was conceived and implemented by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to ferret out and prosecute those who receive child pornography through the mails. The directors of the project set up the Far Eastern Trading Company, Ltd. of Hong Kong, as an undercover child pornography mail order firm. Hong Kong was chosen, with the permission of the local government, because substantial amounts of child pornography originate overseas. To lend further authenticity, a branch office was established in Frederiksted, St. Croix, Virgin Islands. Judge Ellis, writing for the district court, explained how the project worked and Goodwin's participation in the scheme:

The method of operation was simple and effective. In general, various means were used to identify persons, initially at least, as predisposed towards child pornography. Typically, initial identification of targets was accomplished by answering advertisements apparently seeking such material or by the use of lists transmitted by the Customs Service of persons to whom offending material had been sent from overseas and then seized. Subsequent test correspondence was sent to confirm predisposition. Thereafter, the target was sent a catalog and order form. This material, as well as the pornographic materials themselves, was assembled by the government at Operation Looking Glass' facilities in Newark, N.J. All pornography materials used in the operation were taken from material earlier seized by the authorities. Orders received were filled by sending the material from Newark to Postal Inspector Northrop in Washington, D.C., who in turn placed the material in an envelope with a St. Croix stamp and postmark and then had the postal service deliver the material to the individual. Very shortly thereafter, the individual was visited by the authorities armed with a search warrant. The arrest followed.

In the instant case, the essential facts fit this pattern. Defendant, Ralph E. Goodwin, Jr., first came to the Postal Inspection Service's attention in September, 1983, when he placed the following advertisement in the October issue of now defunct Met Forum, a Washington area swinger's magazine.

Wanted: Lollitots, moppets & chicken magazines & photographs. If you have single copies you want to sell, send your telephone number to MP Code 3941.

Test correspondence with the person who placed the ad revealed that it was the defendant, Ralph Goodwin, and that defendant was a "beginner," whose "latent desires" were just then emerging. The September, 1983 test letter received from defendant...

To continue reading