Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group Podcast
On April 23, 2014, the Supreme Court decided Paroline v. United States, a case involving the efforts of “Amy,” a victim of child pornography, to collect the full amount of damages owed to her. In a 5-4 decision, the Court held that Amy could not collect the full $3.4 million in damages from one man convicted of possessing two images of her, because defendants should only be made liable for the consequences and gravity of their own conduct, not the conduct of others. University of Utah Professor Paul G. Cassell, who argued for Amy at the Supreme Court, discussed the impact of the decision, as well as current Congressional efforts to ensure that victims of child pornography are not forced into a lifetime of litigation to extract damages from those involved in their abuse. He was joined by John G. Malcolm, Chairman of the Federalist Society’s Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group.
Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group Courthouse Steps Podcast
- Professor Paul G. Cassell, Ronald N. Boyce Presidential Endowed Chair in Criminal Law, The University of Utah College of Law
- John G. Malcolm, Director and Ed Gilbertson and Sherry Lindberg Gilbertson Senior Legal Fellow, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, The Heritage Foundation?, and Chairman of the Federalist Society's Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group
Doyle R. Paroline pled guilty to possession of 150-300 images of child pornography. Included among those files on his computer were two photographs of Amy Unknown, a victim of child pornography. He was sentenced to 24 months of incarceration followed by release under supervision. Under a federal statute that mandates full restitution to victims of child pornography by those convicted of creating, distributing or possessing such material, the Government and Amy sought restitution in the amount of nearly $3.4 million. The district court denied restitution and held that the statute required the Government to prove that Paroline’s possession of the images was the proximate cause of the injuries for which restitution was sought. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed and held that Paroline was responsible for restitution for all the victim’s losses even if his criminal acts occurred after the victim’s losses. On Wednesday, January 22, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Paroline v. United States. Two questions are presented to the Court: 1) In determining restitution in child pornography cases , is the award of restitution limited to losses proximately caused by the defendant’s criminal actions or may a defendant be required to pay restitution for all losses, regardless of whether his criminal acts proximately caused the loss? and 2) Is the Government correct in its argument that authorizing $3.4 million in restitution against a defendant to a victim of child pornography who has never had contact with the defendant may violate the Eighth Amendment ban on excessive fines in the absence of a proximate cause requirement in the setting of the amount of restitution assessed against that defendant? Our expert attended oral arguments and offered his impressions to a live Teleforum audience.
- John G. Malcolm, Director, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, The Heritage Foundation
- Moderator: Dean Reuter, Vice President and Director of Practice Groups, The Federalist Society
[Listen now!] SCOTUScast 4-17-13 featuring Randy Barnett
On April 17, 2013, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in United States v. Kebodeaux. The case involves the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) of 2006, which created both a direct federal requirement for sex offenders to register and a federal penalty for failing to register. The case considers whether a federal court of appeals erred in 1) operating on the premise that Kebodeaux was not under a federal registration obligation until SORNA was enacted, and 2) concluding that Congress lacked the power under Article I of the Constitution to apply SORNA’s registration requirement and penalty to a former sex offender like Kebodeaux, who was no longer in government custody or on supervised release.
To discuss the case, we have Randy Barnett, who is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory at Georgetown University Law Center.
[Listen now!] SCOTUScast 02-01-12 featuring Michael DeBow
Michael DeBow February 01, 2012
On January 23, 2012, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Reynolds v. United States. The question in this case concerns whether the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) requires an offender who was convicted before the passage of SORNA to register thereunder even though the legislation appears to leave that determination to the Attorney General. A lower court determined that SORNA itself required pre-SORNA offenders to register even if the Attorney General had not yet deemed that requirement applicable to them.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Breyer, the Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s decision and remanded the case for further proceedings. By a vote of 7-2, the Court held that SORNA’s registration requirements, properly interpreted, do not apply to pre-SORNA offenders until the Attorney General so specifies. Justice Scalia filed a dissenting opinion, which was joined by Justice Ginsburg.
To discuss the case, we have Michael DeBow, who is a professor at the Samford University Cumberland School of Law. SCOTUScast 10-19-11 featuring Michael DeBow
Michael DeBow September 02, 2011
On October 3, 2011, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Reynolds v. United States. The question in this case is whether a sex offender who was convicted before passage of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act has standing to challenge the Attorney General’s interim rule making the Act applicable to those who committed offenses before its enactment date.
To discuss the case, we have Michael DeBow, who is a professor at the Samford University Cumberland School of Law.