Problems In High Court Ruling On Restitution Appeals

April 24, 2017

In a decision on April 19, 2017, Manrique v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court held by a 6-2 vote that when a court imposes a sentence but defers the determination of restitution until a later date, the defendant seeking to appeal his entire sentence (including the restitution amount) must file a notice of appeal not only from the initial judgment, but from the subsequent amended judgment that includes the amount of restitution. This decision builds a procedural roadblock for a defendant who seeks to appeal an order of restitution with little obvious benefit to appellate practice or the criminal justice system.

The court’s decision, along with a recent Second Circuit decision, seems to suggest that the federal appellate courts prefer a regime in which litigants must be constantly filing appeals concerning the amount of restitution. Although this system may be consistent with the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, it seems to impose unnecessary burdens on litigants and the appellate courts. Defendants in particular must remain vigilant when the court takes steps after the initial sentencing to impose or modify restitution obligations.

To continue reading Harry Sandick and Clint Morrison's article from Law360, please click here.