Cassell’s Supreme Court Brief Attracts Attention of New York Law Journal

Professor Paul Cassell’s recently filed Supreme Court brief has attracted attention in the New York Law Journal.

Last week, Cassell filed a “friend of the court” (amicus) brief through the Utah Appellate Clinic urging the Supreme Court to grant review in the case of Roe v. Doe.  The case arises out of federal courts in New York, which have placed blanket sealing orders around a criminal prosecution.   Cassell’s brief argues that these sealing orders have been used by prosecutors to avoid complying with federal criminal victim’s rights laws, including laws requiring that crime victims receive restitution and be informed of court proceedings.

 Cassell’s brief, filed on behalf of the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA), contends that prosecutors are improperly “buying cooperation with crime victims’ money.”  According to the brief, prosecutors allowed a defendant identified as only as “John Doe” that he could avoid paying millions of dollars in restitution back to crime victims if he would testify in other cases.  And prosecutors illegally kept what they were doing secret by placing the case under seal.  Cassell’s brief contends that these actions contravened the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act (mandating restitution in serious cases) and the Crime Victims Rights Act (requiring notice to crime victims about the criminal justice proceedings).

 The New York Law Journal article highlights Cassell’s brief, noting that the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press has also filed a supportive amicus brief.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York declined to comment on the case.

 Click to read a copy of Cassell’s amicus brief. Several law students at the College of Law worked on the brief through the Utah Appellate Clinic.

 Cassell had previously testified in April before Congress about some aspects of the case, although he had been precluded from informing Congress about the details of the violations of the crime victims’ rights laws through the sealing orders in the case.  Click here to read a previous story