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Supreme Court limits damages to victims of child porn, throws out $3.4 million award
The Washington Post ^ | April 23, 2014 | Robert Barnes

Posted on 04/23/2014 10:27:17 AM PDT by Lurking Libertarian

The Supreme Court on Wednesday limited the amount of damages that those who possess child pornography must pay victims, throwing out a $3.4 million award that went to a woman whose childhood rape has been widely seen on the Internet.

The court voted 5 to 4 that those convicted of possessing child pornography must pay restitution to victims. But it said the amount of damages paid must be proximate to the harm that a specific offender has caused.[...]

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion, noted that his approach “is not without difficulties.”[...]

Kennedy said there were three options: give Amy nothing, because it is impossible to decide how Paroline’s possession of two images affected her; make Paroline liable for all of her damages, even though it is clear that his actions alone did not cause all of her problems; or take the middle ground.

Kennedy was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said he “regretfully” dissented, and said a proper reading of the law would mean Paroline should pay nothing.

“The statute as written allows no recovery; we ought to say so, and give Congress a chance to fix it,” he wrote in a dissent joined by Justice Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor also dissented, but in the opposite direction. She said the law requires each individual convicted of possessing Amy’s images be held liable for the “full amount of the victim’s losses.”

(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption
KEYWORDS: childporn; porn; scotus
Interesting line-up of Justices: Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito and Kagan in the middle; Roberts, Scalia and Thomas on the side of the child-porn defendant; and Sotomayor on the side of the victim and the prosecution.
1 posted on 04/23/2014 10:27:17 AM PDT by Lurking Libertarian
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To: Lurking Libertarian

On the other hand, what does the law say?


2 posted on 04/23/2014 10:29:31 AM PDT by Jeff Chandler (Obamacare: You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.)
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To: Lurking Libertarian

They all make me sick.


3 posted on 04/23/2014 10:29:44 AM PDT by ilovesarah2012
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To: Lurking Libertarian

Porn is not big business. Porn is HUGE business.

Bust ‘em.


4 posted on 04/23/2014 10:32:11 AM PDT by Psalm 144 (FIGHT! FIGHT! SEVERE CONSERVATIVE AND THE WILD RIGHT!)
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To: Lurking Libertarian

At this stage, with no moral foundation In the country, constitutional interpretation is nothing but a mental maturbatory function.


5 posted on 04/23/2014 10:35:03 AM PDT by JPX2011
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To: Lurking Libertarian; BuckeyeTexan
Some background on this case:

The defendant in this case did not rape the child victim; he was merely one of the (sadly, thousands of) perverts who downloaded the film of her abuse.

Congress said that anyone convicted of possession of child pornography should, in addition to a prison sentence, pay the victim for the damages he "caused." The Government (and most of the lower courts) said that each defendant who possessed the images could be liable for the victim's full damages, until the victim is paid in full. Only Sotomayor accepted that argument. The majority said that each defendant should pay only his own share. Roberts, Thomas and Scalia said the victim was damaged by being raped, not by having people watch the film of her rape, so the defendant should pay nothing.

6 posted on 04/23/2014 10:35:23 AM PDT by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: Lurking Libertarian

I guess execution is out of the question...............


7 posted on 04/23/2014 10:35:55 AM PDT by Red Badger (Soon there will be another American Civil War. Will make the first one seem like a Tea Party........)
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To: Lurking Libertarian; BillyBoy; GOPsterinMA; Impy; NFHale; fieldmarshaldj; AuH2ORepublican; ...
RE :”“The statute as written allows no recovery; we ought to say so, and give Congress a chance to fix it,” he wrote in a dissent joined by Justice Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor also dissented, but in the opposite direction. She said the law requires each individual convicted of possessing Amy’s images be held liable for the “full amount of the victim’s losses.
........Amy was raped by an uncle when she was 8 and 9 years old, and the events were recorded. When she was 17, she learned that the images were widely available online; her attorney Paul G. Cassell estimates more than 70,000 people have seen them.”

Unusual case.

I guess the uncle that did it has no $$$.
So she went after the 70,000, or obviously a subset of them.

8 posted on 04/23/2014 10:36:38 AM PDT by sickoflibs (Obama : 'You can keep your doctor if you want. I never tell a lie ')
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To: Lurking Libertarian

Give the leftists few years and the case will be if it’s even illegal to make it.


9 posted on 04/23/2014 10:36:57 AM PDT by VanDeKoik
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To: JPX2011
At this stage, with no moral foundation In the country, constitutional interpretation is nothing but a mental maturbatory function.

This wasn't a constitutional case; it was an interpretation of the language used by Congress, and all the Justices agreed that Congress could change the result for future cases by changing the language of the statute.

10 posted on 04/23/2014 10:38:33 AM PDT by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: Lurking Libertarian

Then substitute legislative interpretation. The point still stands.


11 posted on 04/23/2014 10:40:43 AM PDT by JPX2011
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To: Lurking Libertarian
She was a victim, but a lesson for those who think earning some pin money by doing an internet porn shoot would be cool should know what is published on the internet is available forever.

"Is that grandma!?"

12 posted on 04/23/2014 10:42:21 AM PDT by AU72
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To: Lurking Libertarian

Interesting case, sounds like Roberts has it right.


13 posted on 04/23/2014 10:43:44 AM PDT by bigbob (The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly. Abraham Lincoln)
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To: VanDeKoik
Give the leftists few years and the case will be if it’s even illegal to make it.

It wasn't "the leftists" who voted for the defendant in this case.

14 posted on 04/23/2014 10:44:05 AM PDT by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: Lurking Libertarian

Dear Stupid People in Robes; how about you let a jury decide?
I’m pretty sure that 12 names pulled randomly from a hat can do a better job than you nine.


15 posted on 04/23/2014 10:45:18 AM PDT by Valpal1 (If the police can t solve a problem with violence, they ll find a way to fix it with brute force)
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To: Lurking Libertarian
RE :”Congress said that anyone convicted of possession of child pornography should, in addition to a prison sentence, pay the victim for the damages he “caused.” The Government (and most of the lower courts) said that each defendant who possessed the images could be liable for the victim's full damages, until the victim is paid in full. Only Sotomayor accepted that argument. The majority said that each defendant should pay only his own share. Roberts, Thomas and Scalia said the victim was damaged by being raped, not by having people watch the film of her rape, so the defendant should pay nothing. “

Great summary.

Scalia and Thomas definitely ruled on the law as usual.

Speaking of ‘The majority said that each defendant should pay only his own share.’
Those would only be the ones they tracked down.

it doesn't indicate how they got this video, a share site or a pay site.

16 posted on 04/23/2014 10:47:16 AM PDT by sickoflibs (Obama : 'You can keep your doctor if you want. I never tell a lie ')
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To: VanDeKoik

It will depend on the race, gender, and sexual orientation of the victim and attacker.


17 posted on 04/23/2014 10:48:02 AM PDT by demshateGod (The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.)
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To: Lurking Libertarian

Fortunately this was just about what a monetary punishment should be for an act that they all universally loathed....for now.


18 posted on 04/23/2014 10:51:30 AM PDT by VanDeKoik
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To: VanDeKoik

Fortunately this was just about what a monetary punishment should be for an act that they all universally loathed....for now.

**********

Indeed.


19 posted on 04/23/2014 10:55:21 AM PDT by Psalm 144 (FIGHT! FIGHT! SEVERE CONSERVATIVE AND THE WILD RIGHT!)
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To: Valpal1
Dear Stupid People in Robes; how about you let a jury decide? I’m pretty sure that 12 names pulled randomly from a hat can do a better job than you nine.

That's not the law Congress wrote. The statute says that the jury decides if the defendant is guilty of possession of child porn, and the judge decides his sentence, including the amount of restitution.

20 posted on 04/23/2014 10:56:11 AM PDT by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: Lurking Libertarian
So by that premise, more people viewing the video/pictures means lower damages on a per-person basis. I'm not sure that's how the legal concept of damages is supposed to work.

It makes it economically feasible for one of the perps who's viewed the video to post images from it on a billboard somewhere to increase the number of viewers and decrease his share of the damages, right?

21 posted on 04/23/2014 10:56:49 AM PDT by cincinnati65
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To: JPX2011

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of truth in that.


22 posted on 04/23/2014 11:06:19 AM PDT by onedoug
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To: VanDeKoik
"Give the leftists few years and the case will be if it’s even illegal to make it."

Give the leftists a few years and every child will have the right to be raped and videotaped.

23 posted on 04/23/2014 11:08:10 AM PDT by DannyTN
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To: Lurking Libertarian

The Statute is pretty clear. I actually tend to agree with Roberts. Wanna be upset with someone, be upset with those who wrote the law.


24 posted on 04/23/2014 11:08:20 AM PDT by RIghtwardHo
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To: Lurking Libertarian

Clearly Sotomayor is looking more like a crazy person


25 posted on 04/23/2014 11:10:09 AM PDT by Zathras
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To: nobody
Washington Post should start the article with the name of the opinion:

Paroline vs United States is the decision.

But then that would expect quality journalism from the Washington Post...

26 posted on 04/23/2014 11:13:16 AM PDT by topher (Traditional values -- especially family values -- which have been proven over time.)
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To: Lurking Libertarian

What does it matter what the amount is? If it was trillions or even a few hundred grand, the odds of the offender having the funds and being able to pay anything are pretty remote. Still, who can pay $300 mil?

It might be a constitutional issue under cruel and unusual if the amount was a crazy amount.

There isn’t really anything they can do to make someone pay, short of wage garnishments, etc., which they do, but as there are no debtor prisons in this country, assuming he gets out, they just keep taking a percentage of his pay check.

I think the amendment that addresses bail is limited to just that, bail, but no one seems to pay it any mind when people can be held on sveral million dollars bail or remanded without bail.

It is easy to say, “Who cares?” or “Fry him.” But it has a bearing on other issues. Can a contientious objector sue if something he worked on becomes part of a weapons system? Can he collect every time the system is deployed? Can a vegan running a vegetable farm sue if his veggies are served with meat? Poor analogy, but all I can think of at the moment.

What often happens is a judgement is divided among plaintiffs. For example, some idiots racing bicycles struck a cow. They could not identify the cow. The cow was determined to be at fault (or owner). As the owner could not be identified, everyone within a certain radius of the incident who had cattle had to pay on the judgement based on the percentage of cattle they owned. I am surprised that the judgement in this case isn’t divided among the 70 some odd thousand who viewed it.


27 posted on 04/23/2014 11:33:50 AM PDT by rey
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To: Lurking Libertarian
Interesting line-up of Justices: Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito and Kagan in the middle; Roberts, Scalia and Thomas on the side of the child-porn defendant; and Sotomayor on the side of the victim and the prosecution.

So in other words, all the "superior constitutional wisdom" of these highly educated black robed thugs & tyrants and they still ended up in 3 different opinions. Gee I think the first 9 names in any telephone book could have done just as good a job as these bastards, if not better! Our judicial system is so screwed up because of the liberal, godless ideology, that 95% of all judges are incapable of issuing a correct verdict even if their lives depended on it.

Isaiah 5:20-24

20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!

22 Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:

23 Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!

24 Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

28 posted on 04/23/2014 11:41:20 AM PDT by rcrngroup
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To: rey
What does it matter what the amount is? If it was trillions or even a few hundred grand, the odds of the offender having the funds and being able to pay anything are pretty remote. Still, who can pay $300 mil?

The total judgment in this case was $3.4 million, not $300 million, and she already collected $1.2 million from one other defendant. (Must have been one wealthy pervert.)

There isn’t really anything they can do to make someone pay, short of wage garnishments, etc., which they do, but as there are no debtor prisons in this country, assuming he gets out, they just keep taking a percentage of his pay check.

There are more things they can do (seize houses, bank accounts, cars) but your basic point is correct-- most criminal defendants don't have much to seize.

I am surprised that the judgement in this case isn’t divided among the 70 some odd thousand who viewed it.

That's more or less what the majority said should be done. The problem is that most of the viewers have never been identified.

29 posted on 04/23/2014 11:44:16 AM PDT by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: rcrngroup
So in other words, all the "superior constitutional wisdom" of these highly educated black robed thugs & tyrants and they still ended up in 3 different opinions. Gee I think the first 9 names in any telephone book could have done just as good a job as these bastards, if not better! Our judicial system is so screwed up because of the liberal, godless ideology, that 95% of all judges are incapable of issuing a correct verdict even if their lives depended on it.

What do you think was the correct decision in this case?

30 posted on 04/23/2014 11:46:16 AM PDT by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: cincinnati65
Damages are supposed to make the injued person whole, not enrich them.

Punitive damages are as close to criminal punishment as civil law gets, and is technically a separate trial (usually held concurrently with the trial in chief). Punitive damages are to punish and deter.

31 posted on 04/23/2014 11:46:18 AM PDT by Cboldt
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To: Valpal1

The problem with this is she can’t drag some 70,000 viewers into court
to sue them the perpetrator has no money!!!! I wonder though if she could
sue the porn site for carrying the photos!!!!


32 posted on 04/23/2014 12:02:34 PM PDT by Kit cat (OBummer must go)
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To: topher
As usual, SCOTUSBlog, since it's written by and for lawyers, has the most accurate and detailed covergae.
33 posted on 04/23/2014 12:20:56 PM PDT by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: Lurking Libertarian

If a child in the womb has zero value, how much value does the life of a five, ten or fifteen year old child have?


34 posted on 04/23/2014 1:21:17 PM PDT by null and void (...if you are too sure of your place in heaven you might be too arrogant to actually get there.)
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To: rcrngroup
So in other words, all the "superior constitutional wisdom" of these highly educated black robed thugs & tyrants and they still ended up in 3 different opinions. Gee I think the first 9 names in any telephone book could have done just as good a job as these bastards, if not better! Our judicial system is so screwed up because of the liberal, godless ideology, that 95% of all judges are incapable of issuing a correct verdict even if their lives depended on it.

If it's that crystal clear, why won't you tell us what the correct decision was?

35 posted on 04/23/2014 2:13:28 PM PDT by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: Lurking Libertarian

highest rate for PTSD and chronic PTSD goes to...sexually abused kids. Pay up porn brokers.


36 posted on 04/23/2014 2:27:38 PM PDT by huldah1776
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To: Lurking Libertarian; Perdogg; JDW11235; Clairity; Spacetrucker; Art in Idaho; GregNH; Salvation; ...

FReepmail me to subscribe to or unsubscribe from the SCOTUS ping list.

37 posted on 04/23/2014 9:30:05 PM PDT by BuckeyeTexan (There are those that break and bend. I'm the other kind. ~Steve Earle)
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To: Cboldt

FYI..a recent episode of “Law & Order SVU” dealt with the same issue...they find one very rich person who possessed the child porn images, and he paid millions to the victim..It’s very well done...you can watch it online..


38 posted on 04/24/2014 5:00:10 AM PDT by ken5050 ("One useless man is a shame, two are a law firm, three or more are a Congress".. John Adams)
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To: Jeff Chandler

That’s my question. I’d like to read it for myself. How can their views be so divergent?


39 posted on 04/24/2014 6:36:44 AM PDT by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
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To: 1010RD
I’d like to read it for myself. How can their views be so divergent?

The decision is here.

40 posted on 04/24/2014 7:45:02 AM PDT by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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