SCOTUSblog: Paroline v. United States
- Allocating Liability for Child Pornography, in Full or Fractional Shares (New York Times)
- The Price of a Stolen Childhood (New York Times)
- Paying Amy (Slate)
Argument: Jan 22 2014 (Aud.)
Discussion: Doyle Paroline ("Paroline") pled guilty to 18 U.S.C. § 2252 for possessing 150 to 300 images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. At least two images were of Amy. Pursuant to Amy's right to restitution under the Crime Victims' Rights Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3771, the Government and Amy moved the district court to order restitution under § 2259. The district court held that § 2259 required the Government to prove that by possessing images depicting Amy's sexual abuse, Paroline proximately caused the injuries for which she sought restitution. Concluding that the Government failed to show this causal link, the district court denied Amy restitution. On Appeal, the Fifth Circuit held that § 2259 imposes no generalized proximate cause requirement before a child pornography victim may recover restitution from a defendant possessing images of her abuse; and thus vacated the the district court's judgment.
Issue: The question before the Court is, what, if any, causal relationship or nexus between the defendant's conduct and the victim's harm or damages must the government or the victim establish in order to recover restitution under § 2259?
Holding: In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that restitution is proper under the statute only to the extent that the defendant's offense proximately caused a victim's losses.