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DOJ Should Support Victims of Child Exploitation and Domestic Violence

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During the past two years, victims of child pornography (represented by the Marsh Law Firm and pioneering attorneys Paul G. Cassell and Carol L. Hepburn ) have been seeking restitution in federal courts throughout the country.

Using a long forgotten passage in the Violence Against Women Act championed by then-Senator Joe Biden in 1994, child sex abuse victims are asking federal judges to award the mandatory restitution guaranteed by this law.

The child pornography restitution statute is exactly the same as the Violence Against Women Act restitution statute.

Whatever the courts decide in the coming months about federal restitution for victims of child pornography will also effect federal restitution for victims of domestic violence all over the country!

Unfortunately, the Justice Department has abandoned these victims on appeal by advancing a legal standard which the courts consider unworkable.

Simply put, DOJ's position contradicts not only the plain language of the federal child pornography restitution statute, but the plain language of exact same federal VAWA restitution statute as well.

In October, the Justice Department filed a Supreme Court brief opposing child victims. Last month, the Justice Department asked the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to nullify a court-ordered million dollar award to a child sex abuse victim, arguing that the legal standard which resulted in the award is too easy.

Why is the Justice Department arguing for something which the courts of appeal say is unworkable and un-provable, while victims of child exploitation, stalking, interstate domestic violence, and interstate violation of a protection order are left with nothing?

Now, just last week, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals--at the Justice Department's urging--decided to reconsider a landmark decision in favor of these victims. The Justice Department has one more chance to do the right thing and support victims.

Please tell President Obama's political appointee to the Department of Justice Criminal Division, Lanny A. Breuer, to side with the victim in In re: Amy Unknown in the Fifth Circuit.

When Justice Department attorneys refused to even sit with Amy at last year's oral argument before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Chief Judge Edith Jones proclaimed:

"What I don't understand is why the government has switched sides. They were on Amy's side in the trial court, were they not? I'm not sure how they can switch sides now and say that the statute doesn't entitle her to relief. That seems very--if not duplicitous--very strange to me. And it's also in derogation of the obvious intent of that provision of the statute."

Amy and victims like her need your help. Right now these victims are effectively shut-out of the federal courts by the Justice Department's wrongheaded policy.

Almost 20 years ago, then-Senator Joe Biden promised victims that they would receive full restitution from criminals convicted of child exploitation, stalking, interstate domestic violence, and interstate violation of a protection order. Ironically, Vice President Biden's own Justice Department is failing to live up to his vision in the Violence Against Women's Act.

You can help awaken the Justice Department lawyers in Washington with just a few clicks. Amy thanks everyone for their continued support. You can make a difference in her fight for justice!

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