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Restitution

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//May 27, 2024//

Restitution

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//May 27, 2024//

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7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: United States of America v. Otho Harris

Case No.: 23-1294

Officials: Sykes, Chief Judge, and Lee and Kolar, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Restitution

Otho Harris visited a Boost Mobile store seeking help for his broken cellphone. Upon learning it couldn’t be fixed, he flew into a rage and later set fire to the establishment, causing significant damage. This led to arson charges against him. Despite encountering difficulties with three different court-appointed attorneys, Harris opted to represent himself, eventually pleading guilty. His sentence: eight years behind bars and a restitution bill of $195,701.

Disagreements with his legal counsel caused delays in the case. When his third appointed lawyer sought to withdraw, Harris took matters into his own hands, filing numerous motions and requests. Shortly before the trial, he chose to plead guilty, reaching a written agreement with the prosecution. The judge accepted his plea, scheduling the sentencing.

On appeal, Harris contested solely the restitution order, claiming it lacked proper investigation and assessment of the loss. However, the Seventh Circuit ruled that Harris had forfeited his right to challenge the order. During the sentencing, he had explicitly endorsed the factual material in the pre-sentence report, acknowledging the restitution amount and factual basis without objection. The court stated Harris had sufficient opportunity to raise concerns but had chosen not to.

Affirmed.

Decided 05/23/24

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