Child Pornography, and an Issue of Restitution

The New York Times

When Amy was a little girl, her uncle made her famous in the worst way: as a star in the netherworld of child pornography. Now, with the help of an inventive lawyer, the young woman known as Amy - her real name has been withheld in court to prevent harassment - is fighting back.

The most novel approach is being taken by Amy's lawyer, James R. Marsh, whose practice focuses on child exploitation cases. Mr. Marsh's arguments are the fruits of a national movement granting greater rights to crime victims and shifting the financial burden of crimes to criminals, said Paul G. Cassell, a former federal judge and professor of law at the University of Utah, who advised Mr. Marsh and wrote a brief supporting his position in a Texas case.

Mr. Marsh contends that every defendant should be ordered to pay the full amount, under the doctrine of joint and several liability. According to that doctrine, the recipient would stop collecting money once the full damages are paid, and those held responsible for the amount could then sue others who are found culpable for contributions. But the doctrine, which developed in civil law, does not apply as easily in criminal law, especially with an indeterminate population of defendants.

Mr. Marsh has automated the process and e-mailed Amy's filings to United States Attorneys in 350 cases. "I'm able to leverage the power of the Internet to get restitution for a victim of the Internet," he said. Mr. Marsh has, in effect, expanded his small New York law firm by hundreds of federal prosecutors.

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