A victim of child pornography seeking restitution should not receive court-ordered payments from those who possessed the images but had no hand in creating them, a federal appeals panel ruled Thursday.Why not?
Chief Judge Dennis G. Jacobs wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel that while the prison sentence was appropriate, the monetary award was not because “the victim’s loss was not proximately caused by a defendant’s possession of the victim’s image.” The victim impact statement and psychological evaluation, he noted, were written well before Mr. Aumais was arrested “or might as well have been.”I want to see the lovely, sensible part again: the victim’s loss was not proximately caused by a defendant’s possession of the victim’s image. See? Logic is such a nice tool. We should use it more often.
Victim impact statements are commonly a bit of boilerplate stuck into the presentence investigation report, with no real consideration of whether it applies to the case or not. If the defendant used child porn, it is assumed--and used against the defendant--that his looking at images has damaged a child. Even a child who cannot be identified, who has no idea that this particular man looked at those photos, and perhaps has no idea that the photos are out there at all.
...Amy’s lawyers have entered pleas in hundreds of child pornography possession cases around the country seeking payment for their client’s lost wages and counseling through federal criminal restitution statutes, asking for more than $3 million in each case. They have submitted nearly 700 of these pleas, and have recovered $345,000 so far.Amy has a tough life, with a horde of lawyers eager to remind her that her photos are still circulating out there and that she could benefit from taking child porn users to the cleaners.
Some federal district courts have granted nothing, stating that the link between Amy’s harm and the act of possession is too tenuous to support a restitution order. A Florida court ordered the full $3,680,153, with others in between.
The fact that the lawyers will also benefit is completely coincidental. Ahem.