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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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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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