Friday, July 10th, 2009

Back to the Future

United States v. Pearson, No. 07-0142-cr (2d Cir. July 2, 2009) (Miner, Katzmann, Raggi, CJJ) (per curiam)

Title 18, U.S.C. § 2259 provides that, in sex abuse cases, restitution is mandatory for the full amount of any loss to the victim, including the costs of medical or psychiatric care. Here, in a case of first impression in the circuit, the court held that this section includes restitution for estimated future expenses.

In this case, then, the district court properly ordered such future restitution. The circuit sent the case back anyway, however, because the district court, which arrived at a figure of nearly $ 1 million – the victims were two young girls – did not adequately explain how it arrived at the figure it selected.

The court also held that the issue survived the appellate waiver in Pearson’s plea agreement. With respect to restitution, the agreement merely stipulated that Pearson would pay “in full,” without specifying an amount. This language “plainly contemplate[d] a future determination of the amount necessary to provide ‘full’ restitution.” Thus, while the waiver would have covered the district court’s decision to impose full restitution, it did not “unambiguously” cover an appeal of “possible errors in the determination of what amount constitutes full restitution.”

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