Hughey v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Maple Heights High School

DOCKET NO.: 89-5691
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 495 US 411 (1990)
ARGUED: Mar 27, 1990
DECIDED: May 21, 1990

Amy L. Wax - on behalf of the Respondent
Lucien B. Campbell - on behalf of the Petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Hughey v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 27, 1990 in Hughey v. United States

William H. Rehnquist:

We'll hear argument next in No. 89-5691, Frasiel Hughey v. the United States.

Mr. Campbell.

Lucien B. Campbell:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

This case calls upon this Court to interpret the reach of a criminal statute, the restitution provision of the Victim and Witness Protection Act of VWPA.

In this case, the Petitioner was charged with offenses of embezzlement of mail and fraudulent use of credit cards.

Pursuant to a plea agreement which was silent as to restitution, he entered a plea of guilty to count 4 only of the indictment.

Count 4 of the indictment charged that on or about October 18, 1985 he fraudulently used a credit card issued by MBank to one Hershey Godfrey and thereby caused losses aggregating more than $1,000.

In the interim, between his plea of guilty and the sentencing hearing, he received notice from the probation service of the court that it was proposing a restitution order far in excess of losses on the count of conviction.

He filed a timely written objection to that notice, pursuant to local procedure.

At the sentencing hearing information presented was that the total losses on the Godfrey credit card, which was the subject of the count of conviction, was about $10,000, speaking in round numbers, and the issuing bank, MBank, suffered overall losses of about $90,000.

Over the Petitioner's renewed objection that such a restitution order would exceed both the limits of the law, and his ability to pay, the court sentenced him to pay $90,000 in restitution within five years after expiration of an eight-year term of imprisonment.

Now, in this case we turn first, as we expect the Court will, to the plain language of the statute.

It is reproduced in our opening brief in the appendix at page A-1.

Turning here I see that Section 3579 provides that the court when sentencing a defendant convicted of an offense--

William H. Rehnquist:

Just where are you reading from, Mr. Campbell?

Lucien B. Campbell:

--I'm in my opening brief at appendix page A-1, Your Honor.

William H. Rehnquist:

Whereabouts on page A-1?

Lucien B. Campbell:

Section 3579(a)(1)--

William H. Rehnquist:


Lucien B. Campbell:

--order of restitution, provides that the court when sentencing a defendant convicted of an offense, and the language pertinent to this case is

"may order that the defendant make restitution to any victim of such offense. "

Now, this part says who pays... the defendant, and who receives... a victim of such offense.

And the Respondent has agreed with us that that language means a victim of the offense of conviction in 3579(a)(1).

Now, going forward in the statute--

Byron R. White:

3579 doesn't say how much... how much restitution.

Lucien B. Campbell:

--That's correct, Your Honor.

We go to--

Byron R. White:

Yeah, but now you have to get the 3580, I guess.

Lucien B. Campbell:

--Well, I believe that we would go next to 3579(b).

Subsection (b), which begins on our page A-1 and extends over to A-2--