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Circuit Court upholds $500,000 restitution order

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A man who waived his right in plea negotiations to challenge his sentence or an order of restitution may not appeal the imposition of $533,000 in restitution to a victim depicted in child pornography, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals held July 14.

In United States of America v. Nathaniel Josiah Worden, No. 10-3567, Nathaniel Worden, who pleaded guilty to one count of advertising child pornography, challenged that he pay restitution of nearly a half million dollars to victim “Amy.” In exchange for dropping three other charges, Worden pleaded guilty to the advertising charge and agreed to a comprehensive waiver of his appellate rights, including appealing a restitution order.  He was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

The government petitioned for the restitution under the Mandatory Restitution for Sexual Exploitation of Children Act about five months after Worden pleaded guilty. Worden argued that a psychologist’s testimony regarding Amy’s future treatment was too speculative to support the restitution award and there was no evidence that he had proximately caused Amy’s injury. The court ordered Worden to pay the full amount requested by the government.

The 7th Circuit concluded Worden waived his right to appeal the restitution order. Several times during his plea agreement hearing, he knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to appeal the restitution order. He believes that he should be able to appeal the amount he was ordered to pay. Several other Circuit courts have concluded that when a defendant waives his right to appeal his “sentence,” an appeal of restitution order falls with the scope of the waiver, wrote Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow of the Northern District of Illinois, sitting by designation. Others have concluded that a defendant didn’t waive his right to appeal the amount by entering into an agreement that waives the right to appeal the “sentence” imposed.

But in this case, Worden waived his right to appeal the amount of restitution as well as the order itself. They also held because they didn’t reach the merits in this appeal, the judges don’t need to address the Circuit split arising from other cases involving whether the Mandatory Restitution for Sexual Exploitation of Children Act requires a showing of proximate causation.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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