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United States v. Reddick

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

January 16, 2018




         Defendant Keith Channing Reddick pled guilty to one count of receipt of child pornography in violation 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2) and (b). He was sentenced on October 18, 2017. However, restitution remained open because of unresolved factual issues pertaining to the amount to be awarded for three identifiable victims: “JanSocks Sierra, ” “8 Kids - John Doe 4, ” and “Sweet Sugar - Ava.”[1] The parties requested and were allowed an opportunity following the sentencing hearing to reach an agreement as to the appropriate amount of restitution for those victims. The parties reached an agreement that Defendant would pay restitution in the amount of $1, 500.00 each to “8 Kids - John Doe 4” and “Sweet Sugar - Ava.” However, because the parties could not resolve the matter of restitution for Sierra, the court held a restitution hearing on December 19, 2017. Sierra's attorney, Carol Hepburn, appeared at the hearing as a fact witness with personal knowledge regarding the extent of Sierra's injuries. Upon consideration of all the evidence and the record, the court concludes that Defendant shall pay restitution to Sierra in the amount of $2, 000.00.


         “‘A federal district court has ‘no inherent authority to order restitution, and may do so only as explicitly empowered by statute.'” United States v. Dickerson, 370 F.3d 1330, 1335 (11th Cir. 2004) (quoting United States v. Hensley, 91 F.3d 274, 276 (1st Cir. 1996)). 18 U.S.C. § 2259 provides that the district court “shall” order restitution to identified victims of certain child pornography crimes, including receipt of child pornography. Under § 2259, a restitution order “shall direct the defendant to pay the victim . . . the full amount of the victim's losses as determined by the court.” 18 U.S.C. § 2259(b)(1). “The full amount of the victim's losses” includes any costs the victim incurred for

(A) medical services relating to physical, psychiatric, or psychological care;
(B) physical and occupational therapy or rehabilitation;
(C) necessary transportation, temporary housing, and child care expenses;
(D) lost income;
(E) attorneys' fees, as well as other costs incurred; and
(F) any other losses suffered by the victim as a proximate result of the offense.

18 U.S.C. § 2259(b)(3).

         In Paroline v. United States, 134 S.Ct. 1710 (2014), the Supreme Court held that “[r]estitution is . . . proper under § 2259 only to the extent the defendant's offense proximately caused a victim's losses.” 134 S.Ct. at 1722. Thus, in child pornography cases,

where it can be shown both that a defendant possessed a victim's images and that a victim has outstanding losses caused by the continuing traffic in those images[, ] but where it is impossible to trace a particular amount of those losses to the individual defendant by recourse to a more traditional causal inquiry, a court applying § 2259 should order restitution in an amount that comports with the defendant's relative role in the causal process that underlies the victim's general losses.

Id. at 1727.

         The Supreme Court suggested the following “rough guideposts for determining an amount that fits the offense”:

[D]istrict courts might, as a starting point, determine the amount of the victim's losses caused by the continuing traffic in the victim's images . . ., then set an award of restitution in consideration of factors that bear on the relative causal significance of the defendant's conduct in producing those losses. These could include the number of past criminal defendants found to have contributed to the victim's general losses; reasonable predictions of the number of future offenders likely to be caught and convicted for crimes contributing to the victim's general losses; any available and reasonably reliable estimate of the broader number of offenders involved (most of whom will, of course, never be caught or convicted); whether the defendant reproduced or distributed images of the victim; whether the defendant had any connection to the initial production of the images; how many images of the victim the defendant possessed; and other facts relevant to the defendant's relative causal role.

Id. at 1728.

         Thus, “[a]t a general level of abstraction, ” under Paroline, “a court must assess as best it can from available evidence the significance of the individual defendant's conduct in light of the broader causal process that produced the victim's losses.” Id. at 1727-28. As the Supreme Court acknowledged, though, at the real-world level of determining restitution amounts in specific cases, Paroline's “rough” guidance is “not without its difficulties.” Id. at 1729; see United States v. DiLeo, 58 F.Supp.3d 239, 244-45 (E.D.N.Y. 2014) (noting the inherent impossibility of estimating a number of crucial Paroline factors and observing that the task of crafting a restitution order in accordance with Paroline “seems akin to piloting a small craft to safe harbor in a Nor'easter”). Nevertheless, the Paroline Court declined to offer “further detailed guidance” for practical application, instead entrusting the experienced “discretion and sound judgment” of district courts to work out the remaining practical problems inherent in fashioning restitution orders under § 2259 and Paroline. 134 S.Ct. at 1728-29. Under Paroline and § 2259, “courts can only do their best to apply the statute as written in a workable manner” while remaining “faithful to the competing principles at stake: that victims should be compensated and that defendants should be held to account for the impact of their conduct on those victims, but also that defendants should be made liable for the consequences and gravity of their own conduct, not the conduct of others.” 134 S.Ct. at 1729.

         Section 2259 provides that “[a]n order of restitution . . . shall be issued and enforced in accordance with [18 U.S.C. §] 3664 in the same manner as an order under [18 U.S.C. §] 3663A.” 18 U.S.C. § 2259(b)(2). Section 3664(e) provides that the attorney for the Government bears the burden of demonstrating, by a preponderance of the evidence, “the amount of the loss sustained by a victim as a result of the offense.” 18 U.S.C. § 3664(e).

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. The Total Amount of Sierra's Losses Caused by Trafficking in Pornographic Images

         Paroline's starting point for fashioning a restitution award is an estimation of the amount of the victim's losses caused by continuing traffic in the victim's images.

         Paroline, 134 S.Ct. at 1728. The court will “do [its] best, ” id. at 1729, and will consider the record and each of the categories of costs listed in § 2259(b)(3) to arrive at a reasonable, non-speculative estimate of Sierra's total lifetime losses from all trafficking. However, determining the total amount of Sierra's losses due to all continuing traffic is particularly difficult because Sierra is still a minor, the production of the last of the pornographic material was relatively recent, and she is still in the early stages of a process of recovery that will span the course of her lifetime. Therefore, the estimate would necessarily require revision and refinement in future cases as circumstances unfold that more clearly indicate the extent of Sierra's losses over the course of her lifetime.[2]

         1. Medical Services Relating to Physical, Psychiatric, or Psychological Care

         Reports from two experts provide a reliable starting point for estimating Sierra's ongoing medical costs. First, in a report dated May 4, 2016, Dr. Sharon W. Cooper, M.D., a developmental and forensic pediatrician, ...

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