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National Crime Victim Law Institute

New and Noteworthy

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Read cases of interest NCVLI follows. Click here for archived cases.

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  • Defendant pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of intentionally and knowingly causing bodily injury to the mother of his child.  Several years later, federal authorities learned that defendant was selling firearms on the black market, and he was indicted on two counts of illegally possessing a firearm under a federal statute prohibiting the possession of a firearm or ammunition by any individual who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, which is defined as requiring “as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or the the threatened use of a deadly weapon.”  Defendant moved to dismiss the indictment, arguing that his prior conviction did not qualify as a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence because it did not contain, as an element, the use of physical force.More >
  • Defendant was convicted of two counts of sexual conduct with a minor, two counts of transferring dangerous drugs, and two counts of involving a minor in drug offenses.  Before trial, defendant obtained at least seven trial continuances, during which time the victim turned 18-years-old.  After the victim turned 18-years-old, defendant moved to depose the victim’s grandmother—the person with whom the victim lived and who had been exercising the victim’s rights on his behalf.More >
  • Defendant was arrested on charges of sexually abusing the minor-victim, and the victim’s mother asserted victims’ rights on behalf of both her daughter and herself.  Defendant sought and was granted seven trial continuances and the victim turned 18-years-old before trial commenced.  Defendant then sought to compel the victim’s mother to submit to a defense interview, contending that she could no longer refuse an interview by asserting victims’ rights.More >
  • Defendant was convicted of the aggravated murder of his estranged wife, whom he murdered during an attempt to force her to recant allegations of physical and emotional abuse that formed the basis of a restraining order against him, and to give him custody of his daughter and leave the state.  When defendant’s plan was not immediately successful and police officers approached his location, defendant shot his wife.  The trial court, over defendant’s objection, admitted into evidence a number of statements made by the victim in connection with her application for a restraining order.  The court found that defendant had killed the victim “with the purpose of eliminating her as a witness.”More >
  • Issue:  Does Rule 29(a) of the South Carolina Rules of Criminal Procedure allowing post-trial motions without a hearing permit a sentence reduction by a judge without prior notification to the Victim or opportunity for the Victim to be heard concerning such reduction? 

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  • NCVLI participated in this case as amicus curiae in support of the crime victim’s petition for review before the Oregon Supreme Court.  NCVLI argued that the trial court violated the crime victims’ state constitutional and statutory guarantees of justice, fair treatment, and prompt restitution in the full amount of their economic damages when it incorporated civil comparative fault principles into criminal restitution. More >
  • NCVLI participated in this case as amicus curiae in support of the government’s opposition to the juvenile offender’s appeal before the Oregon Supreme Court.  NCVLI argued that restitution is sui generis in nature as it serves both civil and criminal law purposes, and that recent amendments of Oregon’s criminal and juvenile restitution laws have not fundamentally transformed restitution from a criminal sanction to a civil remedy that is subject to the state constitutional right to a jury trial for civil cases. More >
  • NCVLI participated in this proceeding as amicus curiae, along with co-amici Courthouse Dogs Foundation.  Amici argued that facilitating a victim’s exercise of rights through use of a facility dog does not result in a per se violation of a defendant’s rights, and that even if defendant’s rights had been implicated, victims should nevertheless be allowed the assistance of facility dogs to preserve their rights to meaningfully access the courts and participate in proceedings.  More >
  • Defendant was charged with three counts of fraudulent transactions and one count of second degree grand theft.  Defendant moved to dismiss three of the four counts for failure to comply with the statute of limitations.  The state then filed a nolle prosse dismissing all four counts that had been filed against defendant, stating simply that “[a]lthough there was probable cause for arrest and charge of the Defendant(s), the State has entered a Nolle Prosse in this case.”  The victim filed a petition for a writ abating the nolle prosse, arguing that his state constitutional rights to be informed, present, and heard at all crucial stages of the criminal proceeding were violated by his failure to receive advance notice of the decision to file the nolle prosse and to be informed that such an action was being considered. More >
  • Defendant is charged with shooting and killing or injuring a large number of victims in a movie theater.  The state filed 166 charges against defendant, naming 82 different victims.  Pursuant to state rule of evidence 615, defendant moved the court to sequester all of the state’s witnesses from all pretrial hearings, as well as from the trial itself.  The state separately moved the court to allow victims to be present during all critical stages of the criminal justice process, relying on victims’ unqualified state constitutional right to be present. More >
  • NCVLI participated in these proceedings as amicus curiae in support of the victim’s petitions before the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals and the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.  NCVLI argued that the respective courts must recognize the victim’s right to be heard personally and through counsel on factual and legal matters regarding the admissibility of her private information at Military Rules of Evidence 412 and 513 hearings because:  (1) military victims have independent standing to assert and to seek enforcement of their rights through counsel; (2) the military judge’s discretionary powers do not extend to excluding participants’ views from consideration once standing is established; and (3) discrete moments of victim participation do not result in a per se violation of a defendants’ fair trial rights, do not create a per se appearance of impartiality, and do not implicate defendants’ confrontation rights.
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  • Defendant was convicted of predatory sexual assault against a child and endangering the welfare of a child—his daughter—and was sentenced to an indeterminate term of imprisonment of 25 years to life.  Defendant appealed his conviction, arguing, inter alia, that   the trial court erred in permitting the child-victim to be accompanied by a comfort dog during her testimony.More >
  • Defendant was charged with one count of repeated sexual assault of a child—his stepdaughter.  The trial court granted defendant’s motion for in camera inspection of the child-victim’s privileged therapy records, and the victim refused to consent to the release of the records. More >
  • NCVLI participated in this case as amicus curiae in support of the government’s opposition to defendant’s petition before the Oregon Supreme Court.  NCVLI argued that Oregon crime victims’ state constitutional rights to justice, protection and privacy, and to be treated with due dignity, respect and fairness—as well as their federal constitutional rights to privacy and to access the courts—required in camera procedures for rape shield hearings.  NCVLI further argued that holding such hearings in camera helps to ensure that Oregon’s criminal justice system protects both crime victims’ rights and defendants’ rights.  

    Defendant, charged with sexually assaulting a former employee, requested an evidentiary hearing under the state’s rape shield statute to determine the admissibility of evidence of the victim’s prior sexual conduct.  After the trial court denied defendant’s request that it open the statutorily mandated in camera hearing to the public, defendant filed a petition for a writ of mandamus requesting that the Oregon Supreme Court direct the trial court to hold a public hearing.
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  • The victim sought a civil restraining order against defendant for stalking.  She received a temporary order of protection, which was to remain in effect for six months, at which point a hearing would be held to determine if the order should become a permanent order of protection.  Defendant moved to vacate the scheduled hearing to allow her to conduct discovery, and the court granted this request and issued a discovery scheduling order.  More >
  • Defendant was charged with endangering the welfare of a child based on allegations that he emailed images of child pornography.  During pretrial discovery the prosecutor refused to allow defendant access to the computer images and required defense counsel to view the images in the prosecutor’s office.  Defendant moved to compel the prosecutor to provide him with copies of the images pursuant to a state court rule that mandates on an open file approach to criminal discovery. More >
  • Defendant was convicted in federal district court of using or carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, which carries a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence.  During sentencing, defendant objected to the sentencing report that recommended a 7-year sentence, incorporating the longer minimum sentence mandated if the firearm was brandished during the crime.  Defendant argued that increasing the mandatory minimum to seven years would violate his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial because it was clear from the jury verdict that the jury did not make the finding of fact that he brandished the weapon and therefore any increase would be improperly based on the judge’s finding of fact. More >
  • Defendant, convicted of bank fraud after a jury trial, appealed his sentence of 70 months’ imprisonment.  Defendant argued that the district court violated the Ex Post Facto Clause when it sentenced him to a term within the guideline range under the Sentencing Guidelines in effect at the time of sentencing rather than the more lenient version in effect at the time the crimes were committed. More >
  • In Maryland v. King, NCVLI joined as co-amici with Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center, National Center for Victims of Crime, National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children, Crime Victims United of California, DC Crime Victims’ Resource Center, and Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance to argue on the merits that the court below incorrectly held that a law allowing for the collection of DNA from arrestees violates the Fourth Amendment.  Co-amici argued that critical government interests are served by DNA collection, including prevention of crime and safeguarding the rights of crime victims, and as such, collection of DNA from arrestees is appropriate. More >
  • The government entered into a non-prosecution agreement with Jeffrey Epstein, alleged to have committed federal sex offenses against minor-victims—including knowingly recruiting, enticing and obtaining persons under the age of eighteen years to engage in commercial sex acts. More >
  • Petitioners, acting on behalf of the estates of three miners who died in a coal mine explosion, commenced a lawsuit in the federal district court against respondents, the companies that own or operate the mine.  Petitioners’ amended complaint alleged, inter alia, that it was entitled to enforce the restitution provisions of the Non-Prosecution Agreement executed by the government and respondents. More >
  • Defendant was charged with a number of offenses, including sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust.  In advance of the preliminary hearing, defendant issued subpoenas to the child-victim’s parents, ordering them to appear at the preliminary hearing and to bring the child-victim with them.  The prosecutor filed a motion to quash the subpoenas, arguing that the child-victim’s testimony was not necessary for the probable cause determination, as the prosecution intended to proceed on the basis of testimony by the investigating officer alone, and that the child-victim “stood to suffer unnecessary psychological harm if required to appear.” More >
  • Defendant—real party in interest in the proceeding and a male Airman—was charged with raping a female Airman.  As part of a larger Air Force program to combat sexual assault, the Air Force JAG Corps had implemented a special victims’ counsel (SVC) program that requires the appointment of counsel for victims of sexual assault.  The victim was appointed SVC, who entered a formal appearance and asked the military judge to direct the parties to provide him with copies of motions filed under Military Rules of Evidence 412 (the military’s rape shield law), 513 (psychotherapist-patient privilege), and 514 (victim advocate-victim privilege). More >
  • Defendant pleaded guilty to the aggravated assault of his wife, which resulted in a fracture of the victim’s orbital wall of her right eye socket.  As part of his sentence, the trial court ordered defendant to pay over $44,000 in restitution, including over $19,000 in restitution for medical expenses arising from the victim’s post-assault suicide attempt. More >
  • Defendant, formerly a high-level employee at an international executive recruitment service firm, was indicted on charges of mail fraud, theft of trade secrets, and illegal computer intrusion, resulting from his use of his former-employer’s confidential database to help him start a competing business.  Before trial, the court issued an order granting the state’s motion to exclude from the courtroom most witnesses, including three attorneys for the corporate-victim, defendant’s former employer. More >
  • Defendant appealed from his conviction on charges of first degree sodomy and second degree sexual abuse, arguing that the trial court erred in excluding evidence that the child-victim—defendant’s step-daughter— had applied for a U visa.   More >
  • Corporate victims of defendant’s offense filed a petition for mandamus in response to the district court’s decision to deny restitution.  On review, the Ninth Circuit held that the district court erred in relying, in part, on a determination that assessing restitution would be an unduly complex and time-consuming exercise, based on its conclusions that defendant would be financially unable to satisfy any restitution award and the victims could pursue relief through civil actions.  More >
  • Defendant, convicted of criminal copyright infringement and mail fraud for the sale of pirated copies of outdated software, appealed the district court’s order of almost $750,000 in restitution to the corporate victim under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (MVRA), 18 U.S.C. § 3663A.  Defendant argued that the district court abused its discretion when it issued the award based on evidence of defendant’s gain from the unlawful sales as opposed to the victim’s actual loss as a result of the pirated sales.More >
  • Petitioner, a private investigator whose license was revoked by the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST), sought judicial review of the revocation order, which was based in part on the determination that petitioner—while working for private criminal defense attorneys—interviewed crime victims without disclosing his true identity and role and without informing the victims of their right to refuse defense interviews.More >
  • Defendants, separately convicted of various federal fraud charges arising out of a Ponzi scheme, appealed the district court’s order reopening their sentences and awarding about $17 million in restitution to the victims under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (MVRA), 18 U.S.C. § 3663A, more than six months after final judgments had been entered.  Defendants argued that the trial court lacked authority to issue the restitution orders.  The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit agreed and held that the district court exceeded its authority.More >