Doyle Randall Paroline vs. Amy Unknown Supreme Court Case

Supreme Court Decision (April 23, 2014)

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Oral Argument Transcript (January 22, 2014)

Oral Argument occurred on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 10:00 AM at the United States Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

Download (PDF, 391KB)

Oral Argument Audio and Transcript (January 22, 2014)


Supreme Court News Roundup

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Slate

Paying Amy

In January, the Supreme Court will hear the appeal of Doyle Randall Paroline, who was caught with two pictures of Amy among 280 illegal images and was found liable by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit for the full amount of the restitution Amy, who is now 24, has claimed. The 5th Circuit said it was up to Paroline—not Amy—to find the other men who could also be on the hook for restitution and go after them for contributions. The legal theory is called joint and several liability. It’s the way courts deal with pollution cases in which a bunch of defendants all dump toxic waste into a single lake. A plaintiff sues one wealthy company for all the damages, and then that defendant has to sue other companies to share the costs.


Money can make a huge difference for victims of sexual abuse. For Amy and Nicole, it has meant access to counseling and a safety net when they have struggled with school and work, as they both have at times. Restitution makes far more sense than the enormously long prison sentences men often serve for collecting child pornography. Congress was right to see the value of restitution. The Supreme Court should too. And then lawmakers and judges should also recognize that the prison terms for possession of child pornography have become too harsh.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Salt Lake Tribune

Utah law professor to make case for child-porn victims

On Wednesday, the University of Utah law professor will make that argument before what will be his most important audience yet: the U.S. Supreme Court. It is the first time a crime victim’s attorney has appeared before the court in a criminal case filed by the government; the outcome may result in a historic decision for crime victims’ rights.


Friday, January 17, 2014

Seattle Times

Child-porn victims want damages from those who view the images

A Seattle attorney, representing a woman victimized as a child and still being traumatized by pedophiles, will attend a U.S. Supreme Court hearing next week in a case to decide if offenders can be ordered to compensate victims whose online images are viewed and traded over and over.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

USA Today

Ore. law students get their day in Supreme Court

When the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in a case about how much possessors of child pornography must pay their victims, two Willamette University law professors and four law students will be in the chambers. Although none of them will speak, they already will have had their say. They have filed a friend-of-the-court brief summarizing the arguments by the Netherlands national agency that monitors child sexual abuse and human trafficking. It is one of 13 such briefs filed in the case, other than those by the parties themselves.


Monday, January 20, 2014

AP

Court to decide on child porn victim restitution

Thirty-four states, dozens of victims’ rights and child advocacy groups, local prosecutors and members of Congress are urging the court to uphold the ruling against Paroline by the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Daily Mail

Woman suing man who viewed online pictures of her being raped as a child for $3.4 MILLION taking legal battle to Supreme Court

A woman whose childhood rapes by her uncle were captured on camera and widely traded on the internet wants the Supreme Court to make it easier for victims of child pornography to collect money from people who view the brutal images on their computers.

Sentencing Law and Policy Blog

Explaining why I am rooting so hard for “Amy” in Paroline

I actually think better consequences can and will ultimately prevail for future federal defendants convicted of unlawfully downloading child porn if Amy prevails in this case. This is because I think, in light of the instructions of 18 USC 3553(a), federal judges would in the future be fully justified (and arguably even required) to generally impose a shorter federal prison sentence on a child porn defendant if and whenever that defendant is to be held jointly liable for the full amount of documented economic losses.

Washington Times

Supreme Court battle over what child pornography viewer owes victim

The Supreme Court will delve into the sordid world of child pornography this week with a case that could break legal ground in the fight to curb juvenile porn — whether victims can seek full damages not only from their abusers but also from the people who produce, distribute and possess the illegal images.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

AP

Court ruling due on child porn victim restitution

If upheld, the ruling would change the equation. Courts would not have to determine exactly how much harm any one defendant caused Amy. Instead, all defendants would be liable for the entire outstanding amount, raising the possibility that a few well-heeled people among those convicted might contribute most, if not all, of the remaining restitution.

Huffington Post

High Court To Rule On Child Porn Restitution

Advocates for child pornography victims say that holding defendants liable for the entire amount of losses better reflects the ongoing harm that victims suffer each time someone views the images online. The threat of a large financial judgment, coupled with a prison term, also might deter some people from looking at the images in the first place, the advocates say.

USA Today

Supreme Court to weigh restitution in child-porn case

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will consider whether anyone who downloaded or distributed Amy’s images can be held liable for the entire psychiatric, vocational and legal cost of Amy’s degradation, estimated at $3.4 million. Its decision could set the standard for hundreds of other such cases in the future.

The Volokh Conspiracy Blog – Washington Post

I’m hoping for a victory for crime victims’ rights tomorrow before the Supreme Court

Tomorrow I’m arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Paroline. an important case involving restitution for child pornography victims. I hope to persuade the Court that Congress meant what it said when it promised child pornography victims restitution for the “full amount” of their losses in criminal cases.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Paroline v. United States: A case for restitution

Amy’s experience demonstrates the unique harm she and other victims of child pornography suffer. Between August 2002 and September 2013, we received more than 4,900 submissions from law enforcement that included images of Amy. Those reports contained more than 70,000 images of her abuse that had been viewed and/or traded by offenders for their own gratification.

AP

Court Considers What Child Porn Viewer Owes Victim

Supreme Court justices expressed compassion for a woman raped as a child as they struggled with how much money should be paid to her by one man convicted of possessing pornographic images of the abuse that have spread among thousands of online viewers.

Chicago Tribune

U.S. justices weigh child porn restitution

U.S. Supreme Court justices appeared to struggle on Wednesday as they considered how much defendants convicted of possessing images of child pornography have to pay in restitution to victims.

Dallas Morning News

Supreme Court hears Texas man’s appeal in child pornography case

In court Wednesday, several justices agreed that Amy, a pseudonym used to protect the true victim’s identity, was harmed by all of those involved in the distribution and consumption of her images. But they remained skeptical that Paroline should be liable for her entire losses, as he played a relatively small part in her saga.

Huffington Post

Supreme Court Hearing Arguments On Child Pornography Restitution

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a case that asks whether a victim of child pornography can seek millions of dollars from a defendant who had just two images of her on his computer.

Supreme Court Justices Seem Sympathetic To Woman Who Wants Restitution For Child Pornography

The Supreme Court lent a sympathetic ear Wednesday to a victim of child pornography who wants the court to make it easier for victims to collect money from people convicted of downloading and viewing the pornographic images.

Los Angeles Times

Supreme Court considers who should pay damages to child-porn victim

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court was asked to decide whether the Crime Victims’ Rights Act of 2004 should allow Amy, now in her mid-20s, to collect from Paroline $3.4 million in damages — the amount she estimates she needs to compensate for the psychological injuries that arose from her abuse.

Mirror of Justice Blog

Paroline v. United States

I felt today represented a good day for victims – a day in which Pope Francis’ call for us to “care for the vulnerable of the earth” was heard a little more clearly (Evangelii Gaudium, para. 209). This is not so much because of any expected outcome of the case. Indeed, I do not know where the Justices will come out on the very difficult questions at issue. Rather, two aspects of the day offer some hope that we are closer to the Pope’s vision of “restoring the dignity of human life” to all people.

National Law Journal

Court Struggles With Restitution for Child Porn Victim

Three lawyers offered the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday three “stark choices” about how to pay restitution to child pornography victims, but none seemed to satisfy all of the justices. The three choices, several justices noted, would result in victims receiving nothing, everything or something in between the two. During arguments in Paroline v. United States, the high court struggled with how to give effect to Congress’ mandate in the Sexual Exploitation and Other Abuse of Children Act that these victims receive the “full amount” of their losses. The justices had agreed to decide what causal relationship, if any, between a criminal defendant’s act and a child pornography victim’s harm must the government or the victim prove for the victim to get restitution.

New York Times

Justices Seem Stumped on Calculating Damages Over Child Pornography

In a Supreme Court argument on Wednesday that was part math problem and part seminar on the nature of culpability, the justices seemed to agree on just two things. The first was that Doyle R. Paroline, convicted in 2009 of possessing 280 images of child pornography, “is a bad guy,” as Justice Antonin Scalia put it. The second was that the child shown in two of those images had suffered terrible harm, first from sexual assaults committed by another man two decades ago and then from the mass circulation of depictions of her abuse. Beyond those two points, though, the justices seemed at a loss to identify a principled way to determine what Mr. Paroline owes Amy, as the woman is known in court papers.

Pittsburg Post-Gazette

Justices consider: Must those who view child porn pay millions in damages?

The court is being asked how to apportion responsibility for compensation in child pornography cases when there are numerous defendants. First, the justices must determine whether the act of simply viewing child pornography directly causes enough injury to trigger mandatory restitution called for in a 1994 federal law; the law requires restitution for pornographers whose crimes caused “proximate harm.”

SCOTUS Blog

Argument recap: Sorting out the blame

The Supreme Court left no doubt on Wednesday that it is willing to do its part to make sure that victims of child pornography get paid money to offset the harm done to them. But it also found itself very much in doubt about just what that part would be. The answer in the case of Paroline v. United States may depend upon how the Court understands two words: “apportion” and “contribution.”

Slate.com

How Much Does Doyle Paroline Owe?

How does the Supreme Court solve a division problem that Congress has dropped in its lap? The justices wrestled with that question Wednesday during the arguments in a case about how to award restitution to child pornography victims. They were struggling because most of them didn’t seem to see an easy or completely satisfying answer.

USA Today

Supreme Court weighs restitution in child pornography case

The Supreme Court faced three options Wednesday for extracting restitution from perpetrators of child pornography: Sock them for their victim’s full compensation, none of it, or something in between. The justices didn’t like any of those options.

Washington Post

Supreme Court weighs how much one person should pay pornography victim

A woman with the pseudonym Amy Unknown was at the Supreme Court on Wednesday as justices discussed the horrible events that changed her life: Her uncle raped her when she was a young girl, recorded that assault and other sex acts and put the images on the Internet, where they have been viewed tens of thousands of times.
All the justices seemed to think that those who downloaded the images of Amy should pay to help her put her life back together. But they struggled to decide what any one person should pay.

Washington Times

Supreme Court struggles with restitution for child porn

The Supreme Court on Wednesday took up a knotty question of proportional justice, in a case posing the question of how much individual viewers of child pornography owe to the victims of abuse. An animated, hour-long session of oral arguments drew questions from eight justices — Justice Clarence Thomas did not speak — on how much of $3.4 million restitution award sought by the plaintiff known as “Amy Unknown” should be paid by a defendant found with two images of her on his personal computer.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Justia: Verdict

The Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Paroline v. Unknown Amy, a case Regarding Restitution for Child Pornography Victims

Professor Cassell, along with lawyer James Marsh, have pursued many in this illegal marketplace on Amy’s behalf, and she has obtained between $1 million and $2 million so far. For them, the enemy is the market itself, and so it makes little sense to apportion damages differently according to the role that was played by a given market participant, or to burden the victim with having to prove how this perpetrator registered this harm.

Justia: Verdict

The Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Paroline v. Unknown Amy, a case Regarding Restitution for Child Pornography Victims

Professor Cassell, along with lawyer James Marsh, have pursued many in this illegal marketplace on Amy’s behalf, and she has obtained between $1 million and $2 million so far. For them, the enemy is the market itself, and so it makes little sense to apportion damages differently according to the role that was played by a given market participant, or to burden the victim with having to prove how this perpetrator registered this harm.

Al Jazeera America

SCOTUS case could hike financial damages for child porn victims

But as victims’ advocates say, courts have had difficulty interpreting how that statute should be applied, and it was a question the U.S. Supreme Court considered on Wednesday in connection with Amy’s case. At stake is the concept of “joint and several liability,” in which multiple participants in a crime — in Amy’s case, there are perhaps thousands — can be required to pay the entire amount of restitution to a victim, regardless of whether the offender played a large or small role.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Boston Herald

Opinion–Murphy: Court to weigh who mu$t pay in child porn case

The legal issues in Paroline’s case may be complicated, but deciding whom to burden with the task of distributing restitution responsibilities fairly is simple. The bad guys, not the victims or the courts, should bear the burden. Imposing a substantial restitution order on a guy like Paroline will serve as a strong deterrent to others who may be considering becoming involved in the crime. It will also encourage young victims to speak out not only to achieve justice but also to obtain money they desperately need and deserve to help them heal.

On the Media

New Frontiers in Child Porn Law

The Supreme Court is weighing how much defendants convicted of possessing images of child pornography should have to pay in restitution to the victims depicted in those images. The case involves a woman known as “Amy,” whose uncle raped her when she was a young girl and circulated photographs of the abuse online. He eventually went to jail, but those photos became among the most widely viewed child porn in the world. Karen Duffin reports on Amy’s quest for restitution.

Washington Post

Opinion: Child pornography: Who should pay?

Child pornography is a growing international scourge. Demand has increased, as have the number of victims and the cruelty of the crimes. Anonymous online sharing has exacerbated the problem, rendering the industry more opaque and prosecution more elusive. The victims of this sordid market need assistance, not legal machinations that impede recovery.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Oregon Statesman Journal

Paroline decision will have worldwide impact

The impact of the court’s decision will be felt far beyond U.S. borders. Individuals consume more than 15 million child sexual abuse images in an international market valued at between $3 billion and $20 billion annually. Due to the rapid proliferation of Internet usage, the child pornography market is projected to continue to grow exponentially.


Monday, January 27, 2014

The Volokh Conspiracy Blog – Washington Post

Why crime victims need their own voice in the criminal justice process

Last week, I argued before the Supreme Court in Paroline v. U.S. & Amy. As the case caption itself suggests, our criminal justice system is shifting, at least to some modest degree, from a two-sided, “State v. Defendant” model to a three-sided model in which crime victims are free to enforce their own rights. This change is long overdue, as crime victims have their own independent concerns in the process that ought to be recognized.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Paying a price for child pornography

Sometimes, justice requires being fair even to those who don’t deserve it. And justice in this case means rejecting the argument that Paroline must pay for all his fellow criminals.


Tuesday, February 27, 2014

Jurist

Op Ed: Paroline Raises Difficult Questions for Supreme Court

JURIST Guest Columnist Warren Binford of Willamette University College of Law argues that the US Supreme Court should hold individual possessors of child pornography liable for the full damages allowed under the Violence Against Women Act first to help victims of child pornography recover as quickly and fully as possible and to uphold US international treaty obligations …


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Clinical Law Prof Blog

SCOTUS Decision Issued in Paroline v. U.S. Today

Child pornography victims are routinely harmed by thousands of perpetrators many of whom are never identified, let alone prosecuted. It places a significant burden on courts, the government, and victims to try to calculate the relative harms caused by each individual perpetrator.

The Verge

Supreme Court says child porn victims can claim payment from anyone who has their images

A federal judge ruled that Paroline was not liable for Amy’s restitution because there was no proof he contributed to her abuse, but a federal appeals court judge decided the opposite way and ordered Paroline to pay $3.4 million.

National Law Journal

Justices Limit Restitution for Child Pornography Victims

“Amy’s injury is indivisible, which means that Paroline’s particular share of her losses is unknowable. And yet it is proof of Paroline’s particular share that the statute requires,” wrote Roberts, joined by justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

The New York Times

Justices Rule Child Pornography Prestitution is Too High

Chief Justice Roberts said the majority’s approach was arbitrary and impossible to square with the words of the 1994 law. “The statute as written allows no recovery,” he said. “We ought to say so, and give Congress a chance to fix it.”.

The Washington Post

Supreme Court limits amount defendant must pay in child porn case

“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.”

USA Today

Justices limit restitution to victims by child porn users

The case stems from Congress’ passage of the Sexual Exploitation and Other Abuse of Children Act, which established penalties and restitution for sexual assault, domestic violence and child pornography. The law called for full restitution — but it did not specify who should pay what.

The Washington Times

Divided court strikes down big porn award

“I really don’t understand where this leaves me and the other victims who now have to live with trying to get restitution probably for the rest of our lives,” Amy wrote on the website of James R. Marsh, one of her attorneys.

Los Angeles Times

Mixed Supreme Court ruling on damages for child porn victims

“As a practical matter, it may be impossible for Amy to collect the full amount if the court is ruling out big awards,” said University of Utah law professor Paul Cassell, who represented Amy. “This will mean hand-to-hand combat in lots of criminal courts.”

Chicago Tribune

Supreme Court limits restitution in child pornography case

Amy’s case is one of several in which victims are seeking restitution from people who obtained pictures of sexual abuse online, but it is the only one to reach the high court following a lower court’s decision that restitution of the full amount was required.

Legal Times, The National Law Journal

Justices Limit Resitution For Child Pornography Victims

The lineup of justices in the case was unusual, with Kennedy joined by justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito Jr. and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. dissented seperately.

The Washington Post

The Supreme Court promises child pornography victims full restitution “someday.” How long is that?

Since January 2006, Amy has received more than 1,800 notices that her images have been found in criminal cases. Moreover, as of 2009, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) had found Amy’s images in 3,200 American federal and state criminal cases — a number that apparently doubled in just the last four years, according to NCMEC’s amicus brief.

Reuters

Supreme Court limits restitution in child pornography case

Amy’s case is one of several in which victims are seeking restitution from people who obtained pictures of sexual abuse online, but it is the only one to reach the high court following a lower court’s decision that restitution of the full amount was required.

Business Insider

Victim Of Child Porn Gave A Devestating Response To Huge Supreme Court Defeat In Her Case

Doyle Randall Paroline had to pay the full amount of the damages owed to her under a theory known as joint and several liability. Under the Supreme Court’s decision, courts will have to determine how much money each defendant owes a child porn victim, which could be particularly onerous for victims like Amy.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Washington Post

A legislative fix for Paroline?

Unless Congress is satisfied with the vague standard of the majority, it could look good for all of Congress to get tougher than the Court was willing to be on child pornographers—particularly when the Court’s ruling means that many victims are undercompensated.

Above the Law

Dissenting Opinions And Strange Bedfellows

While none of the other justices joined her opinion, Sotomayor would have affirmed the Fifth Circuit’s en banc majority, granting the victim Amy full restitution. That majority included some conservative stalwarts (such as my former boss, Edith Jones) who aren’t often on the same side of divisive issues as the Wise Latina.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Slate

The Puzzle of Paying Amy

The conservatives got the law right, Sotomayor got the morality right, and Kennedy—characteristically trying to have it both ways—created a muddle.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Statesman Journal

Congress should listen to child sex-abuse victims

What is news is that Paroline v. U.S. was the first time in the Court’s history that a crime victim was allowed to be represented by her own counsel. Giving child victims a voice in matters that affect them is a universally recognized right. The question now is, “Will Congress listen?”

Sentencing Law and Policy

Will Congress fix (quickly? ever? wisely?) the “puzzle of paying Amy” after Paroline?

Because Paul and other “crime victims” groups can be very effective advocates, I certainly believe it may be possible that Congress will respond in some way after Paroline. But if (when?) the Justice Department is disinclined to join the call for statutory reform, I would predict that the post-Paroline status quo is could stay in place for some time.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Political News

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Highlights Toomey Effort to Provide Justice for Victims of Child Pornography

The introduction of the “Justice for Amy Act” follows a recent Supreme Court decision which limited the remedies available to victims of child pornography under federal law. The case concerned Pennsylvania resident “Amy,” whose childhood was shattered when, at age 9, she was raped and then had those images traded over the Internet.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

The National Review Online

No Breaks for Child-Porn Criminals

Amy suffered a breakdown and fell into a deep depression. It is estimated that thousands of individuals around the world are now in possession of photographs of Amy’s abuse. As she testified in court, every day “it’s like I am being abused over and over again.”


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Washington Post

Congress needs to act to allow victims of child sex abuse to recover restitution

The Supreme Court did not dispute her suffering nor her right to receive restitution from viewers who take pleasure in her abuse and create the sordid market demand for child pornography. But the court set aside the $3.4 million awarded her. Now Congress needs to fix the law.

The Washington Post

Congress needs to act to allow victims of child sex abuse to recover restitution

The Supreme Court did not dispute her suffering nor her right to receive restitution from viewers who take pleasure in her abuse and create the sordid market demand for child pornography. But the court set aside the $3.4 million awarded her. Now Congress needs to fix the law.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Washington Times

Bill would address Suprme Court ruling on porn victims

James Marsh, a longtime advocate for restitution for child-pornography victims, said the 5-4 April Paroline ruling forces “victims to forever chase defendants and recover next to nothing.” The new bill, however, “creates a practical process” that ensures timely restitution for victims and “puts the burden on defendants, where it belongs,” he wrote on the Marsh Law Firm’s ChildLaw blog

Orrin Hatch: United States Senator for Utah

In Response to Recent Supreme Court Decision, Senators Hatch and Schumer to Introduce Bill to Strengthen the Law for Child Pornography Victims

“Victims of child pornography suffer a unique kind of harm and deserve a unique restitution process, and the Amy and Vicky Act is that solution,” Hatch said. “In the Paroline decision, the Supreme Court made it clear that the ball was in Congress’ court in order to give child pornography victims the tools necessary to seek restitution from those responsible for perpetuating this heinous crime.”


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sentencing Law and Policy

Bipartisan statutory fix after SCOTUS Paroline mess for child porn restitution intoduced in Congress

The measure would rewrite a section of the Violence Against Women Act and make it easier for victims of child pornography to be granted “full restitution” from felons who have made, distributed or viewed images of their sexual abuse online.

Long Island

In Response to Recent Suprme Court Decision, Senators Hatch and Schumer to Introduce Bill to Strengthen Law For Child Pornography Victims

“In the Paroline decision, the Supreme Court made it clear that the ball was in Congress’ court in order to give child pornography victims the tools necessary to seek restitution from those responsible for perpetuating this heinous crime. The Amy and Vicky Act is that solution.”


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sentencing Law And Policy

Should I be hopeful Amy can now recover more restitution after major child porn bust in NYC?

“Just how many prominent, successful men are child porn fiends?”. As the title of this post suggests, following the Supreme Court’s messy “split-the-difference” approach to child porn restitution in its recent Paroline ruling…I am hoping a silver lining to this dark cloud might be that CP crimes committed too often by persons “well-educated and successful in private and professional lives” might now mean more restitution getting paid to the unfortunate victims of these crimes.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Findlaw

Child Porn Restitution Cases Vacated; New Vague Standard Awaits

Yesterday, the Fifth Circuit made it official: The two child-porn restitution orders for Michael Wright and Doyle Paroline, which made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, are now vacated and remanded to the district court.


And while the two orders were brief and uneventful, it seems likely that these cases will return at some point. After all, not only are there causation issues and ever more defendants (the images are still widely traded online by pedophiles), but the Supreme Court barely helped the issue by vaguely ordering the lower courts to order “restitution in an amount that comports with the defendant’s relative role in the causal process that underlies the victim’s general losses.”


Relative role. In an ever-increasing pool of hundreds, if not thousands of defendants. Expect a lot more litigation.


Don’t be shocked to see either of the defendants, or the victims’ lawyers, appeal whatever the district court comes up with.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Legal Intelligencer

U.S. Supreme Court Clarifies Standards for Restitution Orders

The court in Paroline crafted a new causation standard for awards of restitution following federal criminal convictions. As Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. noted in his dissent, the restitution statute at issue in this case is not limited to child-pornography cases. The court’s decision may thus affect a wide range of criminal cases, from fraud to conspiracy to civil rights.



Roberts’ dissent provides the key to this decision’s potential widespread application. The court’s decision seemed to speak more broadly than simply the child-pornography context, and its reasoning would seem to apply to federal crimes of violence, federal crimes against property, offenses relating to tampering with consumer products, domestic violence, telemarketing fraud and human trafficking, among others. Consequently, sentencing judges in those cases will surely be asked to impose restitution obligations based upon “the defendant’s relative role in the causal process that underlies the victim’s general losses,” even if the loss sustained as a result of the defendant’s particular crime is unknowable. The government can be expected to argue that Paroline eliminates factual causation as a prerequisite for imposing restitution on criminal defendants, so long as a defendant is “part of the overall phenomenon” that causes losses to a victim. That would be a dramatic expansion of restitution liability for criminal defendants—one that might not survive in a factual context as emotionally charged as child pornography.


Amicus Briefs

Amicus Briefs were due November 20, 2013.

Twenty-one national and international advocacy organizations, the Dutch National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings and Sexual Violence Against Children, the attorneys general of thirty-four states and one territory, and a bi-partisan group of seven United States Senators, filed amicus curiae briefs in the United States Supreme Court supporting Amy in her five-year battle to secure federal criminal restitution for victims of child pornography.

Here are the amici, briefs, and lawyers which contributed to this extraordinary effort to support Amy’s case in the United States Supreme Court:


Brief for United States Senators Orrin G. Hatch, Dianne Feinstein, Charles E. Grassley, Edward J. Markey, John McCain, Patty Murray, and Charles E. Schumer as Amici Curiae in Support of Amy Unknown

Filed by Counsel of Record Neal Kumar Katyal, Jessica L. Ellsworth and Amanda K. Rice of Hogan Lovells US LLP

The bi-partisan group of Senators explains that they were all in Congress in 1994 and supported the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). They intended for VAWA to provide full compensation to victims of child pornography, as the Fifth Circuit below concluded.

Brief for the States of Washington, Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, and the Territory of United States Virgin Islands as Amici Curiae in Support of Respondent Amy Unknown

Filed by Counsel of Record Anne E. Egeler, State of Washington Deputy Solicitor General on behalf of:

Robert W. Ferguson
Attorney General
State of Washington
Luther Strange
Attorney General
State of Alabama
Michael C. Geraghty
Attorney General
State of Alaska
John W. Suthers
Attorney General
State of Colorado
Joseph R. Biden, III
Attorney General
State of Delaware
Pamela Jo Bondi
Attorney General
State of Florida
Sam Olens
Attorney General
State of Georgia
David M. Louie
Attorney General
State of Hawaii
Lawrence G. Wasden
Attorney General
State of Idaho
Lisa Madigan
Attorney General
State of Illinois
Gregory F. Zoeller
Attorney General
State of Indiana
Tom Miller
Attorney General
State of Iowa
Derek Schmidt
Attorney General
State of Kansas
Jack Conway
Attorney General
State of Kentucky
Martha Coakley
Attorney General
State of Massachusetts
Bill Schuette
Attorney General
State of Michigan
Lori Swanson
Attorney General
State of Minnesota
Jim Hood
Attorney General
State of Mississippi
Chris Koster
Attorney General
State of Missouri
Timothy C. Fox
Attorney General
State of Montana
Jon Bruning
Attorney General
State of Nebraska
Catherine Cortez Masto
Attorney General
State of Nevada
Gary K. King
Attorney General
State of New Mexico
Wayne Stenehjem
Attorney General
State of North Dakota
Michael DeWine
Attorney General
State of Ohio
E. Scott Pruitt
Attorney General
State of Oklahoma
Ellen F. Rosenblum
Attorney General
State of Oregon
Alan Wilson
Attorney General
State of South Carolina
Marty J. Jackley
Attorney General
State of South Dakota
John Swallow
Attorney General
State of Utah
William Sorrell
Attorney General
State of Vermont
Vincent F. Frazer
Attorney General
U.S. Virgin Islands
Patrick Morrisey
Attorney General
State of West Virginia
J.B. Van Hollen
Attorney General
State of Wisconsin
Peter K. Michael
Attorney General
State of Wyoming
 
Thirty-four state’s attorneys general argue that the use of the internet to transmit child pornography nationwide requires not only a dedicated state response, but also a robust federal framework. Allowing full recovery for child pornography victims is a logical means of addressing the unique problem of providing restitution for each victim who was harmed by the actions of defendants acting independently, in different locations across the country.

Brief for Amici Curiae the National District Attorneys Association in Support of Respondent Amy

Filed by Counsel of Record Sasha N. Rutizer of the National District Attorneys Association, National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse

Child “pornography” is actually crime scene evidence of the sexual abuse of children. Advancing technology has created a vast marketplace for the perpetration of sexual exploitation of children who should receive full restitution for their losses from anyone involved in that marketplace.

Brief Amicus Curiae of the Dutch National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings and Sexual Violence Against Children in Support of Respondent Amy Unknown

Filed by Counsel of Record W. Warren H. Binford, Paul J. De Muniz of Willamette University College of Law, Child and Family Advocacy Clinic

The Rapporteur is an independent official of the Dutch government who is responsible for working to prevent human trafficking and sexual violence against children in the Netherlands. The Rapporteur explains that the United States is a party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography which obligates the United States to ensure that child pornography victims have adequate procedures to seek damages from those who victimize them.

Brief of ECPAT International as Amicus Curiae in Support of Respondents

Filed by Counsel of Record Daniel C. Moon, Fernando L. Aenlle-Rocha, Lauren C. Fujiu, Tania N. Khan, and Aya Kobori of White & Case LLP

ECPAT (a global network of organizations dedicated to ending the commercial sexual exploitation of children) explains that advancements in information technology have led to an unprecedented expansion of the child pornography marketplace. Victims of child pornography require extensive and expensive psychological counseling and should be able to obtain full restitution.

Brief for The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as Amicus Curiae in Support of Respondent Amy Unknown

Filed by Counsel of Record Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, Stephen Rosenman, Cara Gardner, and Lisa Guo of Ropes & Gray LLP

Yiota Souras, Margaret Klein, and Preston Findlay of The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

The problem of child pornography has exploded in recent years as the Internet allows great dissemination of child sexual abuse images. For example, Amy’s child sex abuse images have proliferated so that more than 70,000 images of her have been identified by NCMEC in state and federal criminal cases. Amy’s images have proliferated worldwide and have been discovered by law enforcement authorities in Denmark, Germany, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. Child pornography victims suffer indivisible injuries and should be able to collect all of their losses from any one defendant.

Amicus Brief of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children in Support of Respondent Amy Unknown

Filed by Counsel of Record Marci A. Hamilton

For the victim, sexual abuse—its memorialization, distribution, and viewing—are all psychologically intertwined with and compound the impact of the initial abuse. Child pornography victims typically experience long-term harm and need lifelong psychological care.

Brief of Amici Curiae The Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project, Legal Momentum, The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Professor Margaret Drew, Professor Leigh Goodmark, and Professor Margaret Garvin Supporting Respondent Amy Unknown

Filed by Counsel of Record Margaret Garvin of Alison Wilkinson

The child pornography restitution provisions (Section 2259) parallel the domestic violence restitution provisions (Section 2264). The Court should not narrowly construe Section 2259 since this will also harm victims of domestic violence who rely on Section 2264 to obtain full compensation for their losses.

Brief for the National Crime Victim Law Institute, Arizona Voice for Crime Victims, Child Justice, Inc., Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center, Inc., National Center for Victims of Crime, and National Organization for Victim Assistance as Amici Curiae Supporting Respondent Amy Unknown

Filed by Counsel of Record Paul R.Q. Wolfson, Shirley Cassin Woodward, Daniel P. Kearney, Jr., and Rachel Murphy of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP

The nation’s leading crime victims organizations explain that Section 2259 is designed to provide broad compensation to crime victims. The law as currently enacted properly holds intentional wrongdoers—convicted child pornography criminals—jointly and severally liable for all the losses caused to child pornography victims.

Brief of Amici Curiae National Crime Victim Bar Association, Arizona Association for Justice, Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association, Florida Justice Association, and Oregon Trial Lawyers Association in Support of Respondent Amy Unknown

Filed by Counsel of Record Erin K. Olson of the Law Office of Erin Olson, P.C.

Rebecca J. Roe of Schroeter of Goldmark & Bender

Antonio R. Sarabia II of IP Business Law, Inc.

While restitution was previously viewed as punishment, it is now properly viewed as a right to compensation belonging to crime victims. Child pornography criminals operate as part of a de facto joint enterprise that harms victims and accordingly each criminal is jointly and severally liable for all a victim’s losses.

Brief of Amici Curiae Women’s and Children’s Advocacy Project and Justice for Children in Support of Respondents

Filed by Counsel of Record Wendy J. Murphy of the Women’s and Children’s Advocacy Project, Center for Law and Social Policy, New England Law Boston

Restitution for child pornography victims is appropriate regardless of individualized proof of proximate causation because all possessors of child pornography cause harm to all victims by creating and fueling the demand for the production of child pornography. Restitution should be assessed under a joint and several liability approach because the crime causes indivisible injuries.

Brief of “Vicky” and “Andy” as Amici Curiae in Support of Respondent Amy Unknown

Filed by Counsel of Record Stuart Banner of UCLA Supreme Court Clinic

Heidi Nestel of Utah Crime Victims Legal Clinic

Carol Hepburn

Two child pornography victims explain that broadly interpreting Section 2259 does not violate the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment. Restitution is not punishment covered by the Eighth Amendment, but rather compensation for crime victims.

Brief of Amicus Curiae Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Support of Respondents

Filed by Counsel of Record Steven J. Kelly, Andrew G. Slutkin of Silverman Thompson Slutkin & White, LLC

Restitution is about compensating victims, not punishing offenders. Accordingly, restitution orders cannot constitute excessive “fines” under the Eight Amendment because payment goes not to the government, but to the victim.

Brief of Amicus Curiae the National Association to Protect Children Supporting Respondents

Filed by Counsel of Record Russell E. McGuire of the National Association to Protect Children

Possessors and distributors of child pornography fuel the demand for the production of child pornography by requesting the rape of children. Law enforcement agencies have difficulty stopping the spread of child sex abuse images in the global market.

Essential Information

Here is a link to the Google Drive containing all the documents in this case.

Supreme Court Docket for this Case

Supreme Court Rule 37 – Brief for an Amicus

IMPORTANT NOTICE: All parties have submitted to the Clerk a letter granting blanket consent to amicus curiae briefs; amici do NOT have to obtain consent to file their briefs.

Amicus Briefs in the Supreme Court

Effective Amicus Practice Before the United States Supreme Court: A Case Study, 8 S. Cal. Rev. L. & Women’s Stud. 187, Southern California Review of Law and Women’s Studies (Spring 1999)

Supreme Court Practice, Ninth Edition

Case History

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Landmark Children’s Rights Case

Landmark Children’s Rights Case Now Before the Fifth Circuit

Texas inmate is part of growing child porn trend that has ruined lives

Case Highlights Problems for Child-Porn Victims Seeking Restitution

Texas judge refuses bid to make child porn users pay damages

New York Times Magazine The Price of a Stolen Childhood

American Bar Association Journal Should Those Who Download Child Pornography Pay the Victims?

Dutch National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings and Sexual Violence against Children contributes to Supreme Court case

Blog posts about the Supreme Court case

Blog posts about restitution


United States Supplemental Brief After Argument (filed March 7, 2014)


Paroline’s Supplemental Brief After Argument (filed March 7, 2014)


Amy’s Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Brief After Argument and Supplemental Brief After Argument (filed February 11, 2014)


Reply Brief for the United States (filed December 18, 2013)


Petitioner’s Reply Brief (filed December 13, 2013)


Amy’s Supreme Court Brief on the Merits (filed November 13, 2013)


United States Supreme Court Brief on the Merits (filed September 27, 2013)


Paroline’s Supreme Court Brief on the Merits (filed August 19, 2013)


Wright’s Supreme Court Brief on the Merits (filed August 19, 2013)


Joint Appendix (filed August 19, 2013)

Volume I


Volume II


Supreme Court Grants Writ of Certiorari in Paroline v. United States (issued June 27, 2013)


Paroline’s Reply to the United States Opposition to Certiorari (filed May 20, 2013)


Wright’s Reply to the United States Opposition to Certiorari (filed May 20, 2013)


Wright’s Reply to Amy’s Response to Paroline’s Petition for a Writ of Certiorari (filed May 8, 2013)


United States Brief Opposing a Writ of Certiorari (filed May 8, 2013)


Amy’s Response to Paroline’s Petition for a Writ of Certiorari (filed April 24, 2013)


Paroline’s Petition for a Writ of Certiorari (filed January 31, 2013)


In re Amy Unknown, 701 F.3d 749 (2012) Fifth Circuit En Banc Decision (issued November 29, 2012)


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