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Jennifer A. Youngs

2007 Crime Victims Fund Award | National Crime Victims’ Service Awards

Jennifer A. Youngs | Crime Victims Fund Award
United States Attorney's Office - Western District of North Carolina
Charlotte, North Carolina

Jennifer Youngs is an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) with the Western District of North Carolina. She has been a tireless advocate for the right of crime victims to recover restitution from federal criminal defendants. She initiated a campaign in her district to educate attorneys, judges, and probation officers on the requirements of the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act (MCVRA). To further those efforts, she attended numerous hearings to protect victims under the statute, held training classes, and provided instructional memoranda to the bench. 

Despite AUSA Youngs' efforts, some courts in her jurisdiction and elsewhere in the country were violating the MVRA by removing mandatory restitution orders in criminal judgments where defendants were jailed for violating conditions of supervised release. In addition to violating clear terms of the statute, this practice also ignored the realities of judgment collection; imprisoned defendants often do obtain significant assets during the 20-year lifetime of a judgment. Accordingly, to defend the right of crime victims, AUSA Youngs appealed two cases in which the district court had remitted an otherwise mandatory restitution order, completely releasing the criminal defendants of any future obligation to pay restitution under their criminal judgments. 

On September 7, 2006, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a published decision in the consolidated case of United States v. Roper, 462 F. 3d. 336, 2006 WL2567014 (4th Circuit 2006). The decision reversed the lower court's remission of restitution, explained the nature of the MVRA, and held that the district courts were without power to reduce or eliminate a victim's mandatory right to restitution. This was the first published decision by a federal court of appeals that upheld the right of crime victims to mandatory restitution and restricted the power of courts to reduce those rights. Courts nationally will look to the Roper decision as authority for the rule that mandatory restitution cannot be reduced or eliminated by court order. AUSA Youngs' achievements in court have set a precedent to help crime victims everywhere. 

AUSA Youngs was nominated by Gretchen C.F. Shappert, U.S. Attorney, Western District of North Carolina.