Fifth Circuit Resolves Final Issue in Child Porn Restitution Case - U.S. Fifth Circuit
U.S. Fifth Circuit - The FindLaw 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Fifth Circuit Resolves Final Issue in Child Porn Restitution Case

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued an amended opinion for In Re Amy Unknown, the child pornography restitution case it decided last month.

The amended opinion involved U.S. v. Wright, one of the restitution claims in the litigation. In the amended opinion, the Fifth Circuit concluded that, because the government did not appeal and Amy did not seek mandamus review in Michael Wright's case, Wright's sentence should be affirmed.

In October, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the idea that 18 U.S.C. §2259 imposes no generalized proximate cause requirement before a child pornography victim can recover restitution from a defendant possessing images of her abuse.

The litigation involves "Amy," a young adult whose uncle sexually abused her as a child, captured his acts on film, and then distributed them. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that it has found at least 35,000 images of Amy's abuse among the evidence in over 3,200 child pornography cases since 1998.

Amy sought restitution under the Crime Victims' Rights Act, The government reports that restitution has been ordered for Amy in at least 174 child pornography cases in amounts ranging from $100 to $3,543,471. The Fifth Circuit recently considered appeals from two of the defendants in the Amy litigation -- Doyle Paroline and Michael Wright.

The Fifth Circuit held that §2259 only imposes a proximate result requirement in § 2259(b)(3)(F); it does not require the government to show proximate cause to trigger a defendant's restitution obligations for the categories of losses in § 2259(b)(3)(A)-(E). Instead, with respect to those categories, the appellate court concluded that the plain language of the statute dictates that a district court must award restitution for the full amount of those losses.

Of the eight circuits that have considered the issue, the Fifth Circuit is the only one that has adopted this view. The First, Second, Fourth, Sixth, Ninth, Eleventh, and D.C. Circuits are on the opposite side of the split, Texas Lawyer reports.

November 26, 2012: Editor's Note: This post has been updated to clarify that the reissued opinion eliminates the need for a remand in U.S. v. Wright, one of the claims before the Fifth Circuit in the In Re Amy Unknown litigation.

Related Resources: