Defendants in CAN-SPAM Case Change Lawyers for Appeal

PHOENIX - Two men who were convicted Friday of obscenity, money laundering and criminal violations of the CAN-SPAM Act have hired new lawyers to handle their conviction appeals.


U.S. District Court Judge David G. Campbell sentenced Jeffrey Kilbride of Venice, Calif., to six and a half years and James Schaffer of Paradise Valley, Ariz., to five years and three months in federal prison for sending millions of unsolicited commercial email messages containing sexually explicit material.


Schaffer, who was represented at the trial by Michael V. Black, has hired Gary Jay Kaufman of the Kaufman Law Group to handle the appeal. Kaufman said the conviction was not warranted and the sentencing was excessive. 


"I believe the government pulled out all the stops in an attempt to register the first criminal conviction under the CAN-SPAM Act," he said. "We believe that there are unique and novel issues for the appellate court to address. We hope the issues presented in this case will help to change existing law pertaining to appropriate community standards in this day and age.


"In the Internet age, everyone has access and the right to view whatever materials they want. This is the first spam-obscenity conviction in the U.S. and is being presented to the 9th [U.S.] Circuit [Court of Appeals], which happens to be a very liberal, progressive circuit. We are hopeful that we will obtain a reversal on appeal."


Kilbride, who was represented by Steven M. Goldsobel at the trial, has hired Greg Piccionelli of Piccionelli and Sarno to handle his appeal. 


"For those in the business that think our government would not sentence people to jail for the distribution of non-child pornographic material, they need look no further than this case to see that the government is serious about going after this industry," Piccionelli said. "Unfortunately, Messrs. Schaffer and Kilbride may turn out to be the poster children for that vendetta. This is going to be an interesting case on many fronts."


Kaufman, who said it's not uncommon for convicted defendants to hire new representation "to get a fresh perspective on things," said he and Piccionelli are "well versed in these issues and will be able to go over the transcripts with a new objective viewpoint." He said the case ultimately could go to the Supreme Court.


"I think the case may lead to a conclusion by the court that the existing law in obscenity is outdated and outmoded and is due for a change," Kaufman said.