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National Crime Victim Law Institute

Criminal Practice Tips

April 16, 2010

Criminal: Entry of Appearance is Proper Mechanism for Victim’s Attorney to Participate in Criminal Case

In United States v. Mahon, No. CR 09-712-PHX-DGC (D. Ariz. Jan. 4, 2010), defendants moved to strike the notice of appearance filed by the victim’s attorney, arguing that the victim was not a party to the action and, therefore, was not entitled to receive pleadings and other court documents through CM/ECF, the court’s case management system.

The victim and the government objected to the motion. In his objection, the victim argued that he had the right to enter an appearance and receive case materials pursuant to the provision of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA), 18 U.S.C. § 3771, affording crime victims the right “to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any public court proceeding, or any parole proceeding, involving the crime or of any release or escape of the accused.”

The court noted that district courts have an obligation to ensure that victims are afforded their rights under the CVRA, and that the courts must determine what constitutes a reasonable procedure for effectuating such rights.

Upon finding “that the method chosen by [the victim’s] counsel – filing a notice of appearance so that he can receive notice of public documents filed in the case – is a reasonable procedure for ensuring protection of [the victim’s] CVRA rights,” the court denied defendants’ motion. To read the order, click here.