Fifth Circuit Decides to Reconsider Restitution Victory

If you’re awake and you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, your probably know that 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.

Using a long forgotten passage in the Violence Against Women Act championed by then-Senator Joe Biden in 1994, child sex abuse victims are asking federal judges to award the mandatory restitution guaranteed by this law.

Unfortunately, the Justice Department has abandoned victims of child pornography on appeal by advancing a legal standard which the courts consider unworkable. The Justice Department’s position is effectively preventing hundreds of child victims from receiving any money from the tens of thousands of child molesters and pedophiles who collect and trade child sex abuse images.

In October, the Justice Department filed a Supreme Court brief opposing child exploitation victims. Last month, the Justice Department asked the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to nullify a court-ordered million dollar award to a child sex abuse victim, arguing that the legal standard which resulted in the award is too easy.

Why is the Justice Department arguing for something which the courts of appeal say is unworkable and un-provable, while victims of child exploitation are left with nothing?

Now, just last week, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals—at the Justice Department’s urging—decided to reconsider a landmark decision in favor of victims of child pornography. The Justice Department has one more chance to do the right thing and support victims of child exploitation.

Please tell President Obama’s political appointee to the Department of Justice Criminal Division, Lanny A. Breuer, to side with the victim in In re: Amy Unknown in the Fifth Circuit.

When Justice Department attorneys refused to even sit with Amy at last year’s oral argument before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Chief Judge Edith Jones proclaimed:

“What I don’t understand is why the government has switched sides. They were on Amy’s side in the trial court, were they not? I’m not sure how they can switch sides now and say that the statute doesn’t entitle her to relief. That seems very—if not duplicitous—very strange to me. And it’s also in derogation of the obvious intent of that provision of the statute.”

Amy and child victims like her need your help. Hundreds of victims are effectively shut-out of the federal courts by the Justice Department’s wrongheaded policy.

Almost 20 years ago, then-Senator Joe Biden promised child victims that they would receive full restitution from criminals convicted of child exploitation. Ironically, Vice President Biden’s own Justice Department is failing to live up to his vision in the Violence Against Women’s Act.

You can help awaken the Justice Department lawyers in Washington with just a few clicks. Amy thanks everyone for their continued support. You can make a difference in her fight for justice!

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