United States v. Pearson, No. 07-0142-cr (2d Cir. July 2, 2009) (found here)
Pearson appealed from a judgment convicting him, following a guilty plea, of multiple counts of producing, transporting, receiving and possessing child pornography. He was sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment and ordered to pay $974,902 in restitution to the child victims of his crime to account for future medical expenses. On appeal, Pearson challenged whether a restitution order pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2259 may include an amount for future estimated medical expenses and, if so, whether the amount of restitution ordered was reasonable. The Second Circuit answered "yes" to the first question (future medical expenses are authorized by the statute), but concluded "no" on the second question (the amount of the restitution ordered was not reasonable).
The Second Circuit acknowledged that it had not yet addressed the question of whether Section 2259 authorizes compensation for future medical expenses. Relying on the conclusions of three of its sister circuits, the Second Circuit agreed that future medical expenses are contemplated by Section 2259 because "the amount of loss is too difficult to confirm or calculate."
But the Second Circuit also concluded that the district court failed to properly estimate those future medical expenses. Specifically, "although the record contains evidence of the victims' need for long-term counseling and of the cost of that counseling, the district court did not explain how it estimated the victims' future expenses. . . . [W]ithout more information as to how the district court reached the lower figure, we are unable to conduct even deferential review of whether the final restitution order reflect a reasonable estimate of the cost of future counseling." Accordingly, the Second Circuit remanded "to secure a more thorough explanation from the district court as to the basis for its restitution determination."
Could this have wide implications for, say, restitution in financial fraud cases in circumstances in which a district court does not build a sufficient record concerning restitution? With United States v. Rutkoske in mind, is the Second Circuit signaling increased interest and awareness of restitution decisions?