The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
Earlier this morning, the Eleventh Circuit granted rehearing en banc in In re Wild, the challenge by Courtney Wild (and, effectively, other Epstein victims) to Epstein's secret non-prosecution agreement (NPA). As I have blogged about previously, the key issue at this point in this long-running litigation is whether the Crime Victims' Rights Act (CVRA) extends any protections to crime victims before the formal filing of federal criminal charges. Ms. Wild has argued that, for example, the CVRA's right to confer with prosecutors can apply before the filing of an indictment–a position supported by (among others) the Fifth Circuit and the district court in this case. And because (as the district court has previously ruled) federal prosecutors violated the CVRA by deliberately concealing the Epstein NPA from his child sex abuse victims, the remedy for that violation should be invalidating the NPA's immunity provisions for Epstein's co-conspirators--thereby allowing the Epstein victims to confer with federal prosecutors in Florida about obtaining a prosecution for the federal sex crimes committed by those co-conspirators.
While briefing and argument schedules have yet to be set, this ruling is a significant victory for crime victims. Today, the full Court vacated the earlier (2-1) panel decision holding that victims have no rights under the CVRA until prosecutors formally file charges. Even the authors of that panel decision called it a "regrettable" and "unfortunate" ruling, which left Epstein's victims "empty handed."
Brad Edwards, Jay Howell, and I look forward to continuing the fight for our client, Courtney Wild. She said this morning, "I had confidence this day would come. We have fought for twelve years, and as I've said before, no matter how many obstacles pile up, we will never give up fighting for what is right."
Ms. Wild also wants to extend her thanks to Senator Dianne Feinstein and former Senators Jon Kyl and Orrin Hatch. Represented by Allyson Ho and other outstanding lawyers at Gibson, Dunn, the Senators filed a powerful amicus brief supporting rehearing. The brief explained that, as original co-sponsors of the CVRA, they had always intended the Act to cover victims like Ms. Wild. And Ms. Wild also wants to thank the National Crime Victims' Law Institute (NCVLI), who also filed a strong amicus brief in support of rehearing en banc.
Crime victims deserve rights even before prosecutors formally file criminal charges. I look forward to making that case before the full Eleventh Circuit.