Thursday, April 26, 2012

Landmark Children's Rights Case Now Before the Fifth Circuit

Landmark Children's Rights Case Now Before the Fifth Circuit                                             

By James R. Marsh on April 25, 2012

During the past two years, victims of child pornography (represented by the Marsh Law Firm and pioneering attorneys Paul G. Cassell and Carol L. Hepburn) have been seeking restitution in federal courts throughout the country.

Almost twenty years ago Congress, led by then-Senator Joe Biden, passed a law as part of the Violence Against Women Act which requires federal district courts to award mandatory restitution to child pornography victims for the "full amount of the victim's losses." 18 U.S.C. § 2259(B)(3). Among the losses covered by the statute are psychiatric care, lost income, and occupational therapy.

Recently this issue has come to a head in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in two cases, In re Amy Unknown, No. 09-41238, and United States v. Wright, No. 09-3125.

The Fifth Circuit has scheduled a rare rehearing en banc before 16 judges in these two cases on Thursday, May 3, 2012 in New Orleans.

Amy will argue that the Fifth Circuit should not read a general proximate cause requirement into the statute. At least four judges on the Court agree with her.

Both the Government and the defendants in these two consolidated cases believe that proximate cause is required and limits the availability and amount of restitution.

A decision in the case is expected by the end of the year.

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