Learning from the Jeffrey Epstein Mess: It's Time to Add a Cause of Action for Damages to the Crime Victims' Rights Act
46 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2020 Last revised: 11 Oct 2021
Date Written: September 7, 2020
The Crime Victims’ Rights Act imposes on federal prosecutors an affirmative duty to provide notice to crime victims about upcoming proceedings so that they can attend those proceedings and exercise other related statutory rights. If a crime victim is blocked from attending a proceeding, the CVRA provides an avenue for that victim to seek a writ of mandamus from the Court of Appeals. Notably, however, the CVRA does not appear to provide a meaningful remedy if the victim is never provided notice and does not find out until it is too late to undo the proceeding. Indeed, the CVRA specifically states that it creates no cause of action of any kind for its violations. Using the sorry saga of the decade-long litigation over the U.S. Attorney’s Office handling of the Jeffrey Epstein matter, this article argues that it is time to rewrite the CVRA to provide a cause of action for damages and for prevailing plaintiff’s attorney’s fees, not because money will truly compensate the crime victims, but rather to deter future violations.
Keywords: Jeffrey Epstein, Crime Victims Rights Act, damages
JEL Classification: K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation