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Posted on November 10th, 2010 by Daryl



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Supreme Court limits damages to victims of child porn, throws out $3.4 million award

Posted on April 23rd, 2014 by Daryl

The Supreme Court on Wednesday limited the amount of damages that those who possess child pornography must pay victims, throwing out a $ 3.4 million award that went to a woman whose childhood rape has been widely seen on the Internet.

The court voted 5 to 4 that those convicted of possessing child pornography must pay restitution to victims. But it said the amount of damages paid must be proximate to the harm that a specific offender has caused.

In the case before the court, an appeals court had said Doyle Randall Paroline was liable for all of the $ 3.4 million in damages a young woman identified in court documents as “Amy Unknown” was found to be owed for lost income and psychological damage.

All nine justices indicated that the law Congress passed to require restitution to victims of child pornography was flawed, and several called for a rewrite that would provide more precision and guidance.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion, noted that his approach “is not without difficulties.”

“But courts can only do their best to apply the statute as written in a workable manner, faithful to the competing principles at stake: that victims should be compensated and that defendants should be held to account for the impact of their conduct on those victims, but also that defendants should be made liable for the consequences and gravity of their own conduct, not the conduct of others,” he wrote.

Kennedy said there were three options: give Amy nothing, because it is impossible to decide how Paroline’s possession of two images affected her; make Paroline liable for all of her damages, even though it is clear that his actions alone did not cause all of her problems; or take the middle ground.

Kennedy was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Elena Kagan.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said he “regretfully” dissented, and said a proper reading of the law would mean Paroline should pay nothing.

“The statute as written allows no recovery; we ought to say so, and give Congress a chance to fix it,” he wrote in a dissent joined by Justice Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor also dissented, but in the opposite direction. She said the law requires each individual convicted of possessing Amy’s images be held liable for the “full amount of the victim’s losses.”

Kennedy said in deciding “the relative causal significance of the defendant’s conduct” in causing the victim’s losses, district courts should consider several factors. Among them, the number of other defendants who have paid restitution, the number of future offenders likely to be caught and whether the defendant reproduced or distributed images of the victim.

Amy was raped by an uncle when she was 8 and 9 years old, and the events were recorded. When she was 17, she learned that the images were widely available online; her attorney Paul G. Cassell estimates more than 70,000 people have seen them.

Courts have estimated damages to her at nearly $ 3.5 million, but they have been collected in a piecemeal manner.

Cassell said it has taken 41/ 2 years to collect $ 1.75 million, from 182 defendants ($ 1.2 million came from one man).

In a statement posted on The Volokh Conspiracy blog, which is hosted by the Washington Post, Cassell said he was disappointed by the ruling. He is a regular contributor to the blog.

“As Amy has recognized, the Supreme Court’s split-the-difference ruling promises her that she will receive full restitution ‘someday,’ ” Cassell wrote. “ I just wonder how far in the future that someday will be.”

And he quoted Amy as well: “The Supreme Court said we should keep going back to the district courts over and over again but that’s what I have been doing for almost six years now,” she said in a statement. “It’s crazy that people keep committing this crime year after year and now victims like me have to keep reliving it year after year.”

The case is Paroline v. United States.

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Defendant in Salt Lake City shot dead after rushing witness stand

Posted on April 21st, 2014 by Daryl


Defendant shot dead after rushing witness

Defendant Siale Angilau was listening to a witness describe gang initiation rituals on Monday when authorities said he grabbed a pen, rushed toward the witness and lunged at him.

A U.S. marshal opened fire on Angilau — a 25-year-old “Tongan Crip” gang member known on the street as “C-Down” — shooting him several times in front of shocked jurors, lawyers and courtroom watchers. He died hours later.

The shooting turned a new and secure federal courthouse in Salt Lake City that opened its doors just one week ago into a site of alarm.

Nobody else was hurt, but those in the courtroom were stunned by the sudden turn of events. A mistrial was declared, with U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell saying in her order that jurors were visibly shaken.

The witness, who was not injured, was testifying about gang initiation. The person was not identified.

Angilau was shot in the chest and died at a hospital, the FBI said in a news release. Under standard procedures, Angilau was not restrained in the courtroom, the FBI said. He was one of 17 people named in a 29-count racketeering indictment filed in 2010.

— Associated Press


Sept. 11 prosecutor confirms FBI probe

A federal prosecutor confirmed the existence Monday of the FBI investigation that has thrown the Sept. 11 war crimes tribunal at Guantanamo into disarray.

The FBI has opened a preliminary criminal investigation “that involves, at least in part, classified information,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Fernando Campoamor Sanchez said in a court motion.

The prosecutor did not disclose the nature or focus of the investigation. But he said it does not concern the release of written communications from accused terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, contrary to what defense lawyers said last week during a pretrial hearing at the U.S. base in Cuba.

Campoamor said he would provide details of the investigation in a sealed filing to the military judge presiding over the trial of Mohammed and four other Guantanamo Bay prisoners in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack.

— Associated Press

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