Wednesday, May 31, 2017

US v. Twenty-nine Palm Band of Mission Indians, No. 15-50419 (5-30-17)(Bybee w/Graber & Christen).  This is a restitution case. The issue is whether the crime victim  -- here an Indian tribe -- can appeal a restitution order under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (MVRA). The 9th gives the tribe standing, but then rules that the Act does not confer a right to appeal.  In so ruling, the 9th joins the 1st, 3d, 5th, 8th, and 10th circuits. The 9th also concludes that due process does not confer a right. A victim who disagrees with the court's decision can have the government appeal, or seek mandamus.

The opinion provides a good overview of the three primary acts that govern restitution in criminal cases in federal courts: the Victim and Witness Protection Act of 1982 (VWPA), the MVRA of 1996, and the Crime Victims' Rights Act (CVRA). The opinion traces the history, the rights conferred, and the procedure to be followed.  Essentially, the right to restitution is made mandatory, and the procedure as set forth in VWPA, with some tweaks, is followed. 

The decision is here:


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