Victims' Rights

Government Wrongs and Victims’ Rights - Podcast

Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group Podcast
Paul G. Cassell January 28, 2015

Paul G. Cassell, a University of Utah School of Law professor and a former federal judge, will discuss victims' rights to restitution at the federal level. He will focus his presentation on a controversial practice used in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York -- secret settlements of fraud cases without notification to the victims of the fraud. The victims are, without notice, unable to seek restitution. Professor Cassell alleges that the practice violates the Crime Victim’s Restitution Act (although the Department of Justice disputes this claim).

  • Hon. Paul G. Cassell, Ronald N. Boyce Presidential Endowed Chair in Criminal Law, The University of Utah College of Law

Child Pornography: Proximate Cause and Restitution – Paroline v. United States - Podcast

Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group Courthouse Steps Podcast
John G. Malcolm, Dean A. Reuter January 23, 2014

InternetDoyle 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!]

A Bill of Rights for Crime Victims

Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group Newsletter - Volume 1, Issue 1, Fall 1996
Paul G. Cassell, Steven J. Twist May 21, 2009
While our Bill of Rights enumerates extensive rights for criminal defendants, it contains not a single word on behalf of crime victims. This imbalance is in no small part responsible for the myopic preoccupation that our courts have with the rights of those charged with crimes, without any consideration of the interests of those victimized.

The Victims' Rights Amendment

Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group Newsletter - Volume 3, Issue 2, Summer 1999
Paul G. Cassell May 20, 2009
What will be the next amendment to the United States Constitution? If you picked the Flag Burning or Balanced Budget Amendment, you overlooked an even more widely-supported proposal — the Victims' Rights Amendment — which stands well on its way to congressional passage. Though it enjoys support from a broad coalition of bleeding heart conservatives and hard nosed liberals, the Amendment has been little noticed. Even Al Gore's endorsement of it in July drew no headlines amid his support for controversial firearms regulations. Yet the Amendment will herald far-reaching reforms of our criminal justice system and should be more widely discussed.