Earlier today, the United States Supreme Court agreed to review a case brought by the Marsh Law Firm concerning criminal restitution for victims of child pornography.
The Court agreed to decide “what, if any, causal relationship or nexus between the defendant’s conduct and the victim’s harm or damages must the government or the victim establish in order to recover restitution under 18 U.S.C. §2259,” the Mandatory Restitution for Sexual Exploitation of Children Act of 1994.
The case, Doyle Randall Paroline v. Amy Unknown, arises out of a long-fought and extensively litigated criminal restitution action which began almost four years ago before Judge Leonard Davis in the Eastern District of Texas Tyler Division.
In January the defendant, Doyle Randall Paroline, filed a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari in the Supreme Court seeking review of last year’s momentous Fifth Circuit en banc decision which significantly expanded the rights of child pornography victims to receive criminal restitution.
Former federal judge Paul G. Cassell, professor at the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah, will brief and argue the issue before the Court. Professor Cassell exclaimed: “I am looking forward to convincing the Supreme Court that victims of serious child pornography crimes are entitled to hold each and every defendant accountable for all of the losses they suffer.”
In addition to its potentially far-reaching impact, the case will be the first time a crime victim has argued before the Supreme Court in a criminal case.
Upon hearing the news today, Amy (a pseudonym for the victim in the case now pending before the Supreme Court), declared:
The Court’s decision to accept my case means so much to me because now everything I have gone through—being everywhere on the internet all over the world—isn’t for nothing. Now others like me who have gone through horrific traumas—and are still going through horrific traumas—can show the public that awful things like this do happen. That we are people, just like them, who deserve to have our day in court. I want this case to help other victims realize that they are not alone. That something can and will be done about their pain and suffering, and that they do not have to be afraid. This case could have a positive impact on so many people. I hope we can convince the justices that victims deserve restitution from everyone who collects pictures of their abuse. That’s what this case means to me.
The Marsh Law Firm will be assisted by Jennifer Freeman and Robert Lewis of Freeman Lewis LLP in drafting the Supreme Court brief and preparing Paul Cassell for oral argument. Attorney Carol Hepburn, who represents another victim of child pornography named Vicky, is expected to file an amicus brief along with several other individual and institutional amici.
The Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments in the case early next year.
Further information on this groundbreaking case