Regardless, Newsom said, his obligation is to follow the law. “On days like this — when my heart breaks for one of the parties before me — it’s also what makes being a judge particularly tough,” he added.
Wild contended that Florida prosecutors violated the Crime Victims Rights Act of 2004. After reaching the non-prosecution agreement, prosecutors held off for about a year before notifying Epstein’s victims of its existence.
While underage, Courtney Wild was a victim of Jeffrey Epstein. (Emily Michot/Miami Herald/TNS)
In her petition, Wild sought a court hearing in which Epstein’s victims could give victim-impact statements. She also sought sanctions and restitution.
Newsom said that the court had to decide whether the Crime Victims Rights Act provided Wild a way to enforce her rights outside the context of a “preexisting criminal proceeding.”
“Despite our sympathy for Ms. Wild — and the courage that she has shown in pursuing this litigation — we find ourselves constrained to hold that it does not,” Newsom wrote. There was never a preexisting case in Florida because federal charges were never brought against Epstein there, he said.
The 11th Circuit appellate court has jurisdiction over federal cases originating in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
Judge Kevin Newsom, a nominee of President Donald Trump who filled an Alabama vacancy on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. (Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP
In dissent, Judge Elizabeth Branch wrote that Wild’s rights under the Crime Victims Rights Act attached to her before the non-prosecution agreement. At this “pre-charge” stage, crime victims have the right to confer with the government prosecutor and “the right to be treated with fairness and respect,” Branch wrote.
The act also allows victims to do what Wild was trying to do: seek judicial enforcement of those rights, Branch said.
Also in dissent, Judge Frank Hull said the court’s ruling gives Epstein’s victims “no remedy as to the government’s appalling misconduct.” The majority, Hull added, “eviscerates the (Crime Victims Rights Act) and makes the Epstein case a poster child for an entirely different justice system for crime victims of wealthy defendants.”
Chief Judge Bill Pryor, who joined the majority, noted in his own concurring opinion that the dissenters said the role of judges is to interpret and follow the law as written, regardless of whether they like the result. “Respectfully,” he wrote, “readers of today’s opinions can judge for themselves who is faithfully interpreting the act and who, if anyone, is allowing their policy preferences to influence their judgment.”