Maybe This Will Help Mr. Baez with the Photo Issue
FEDERAL SON OF SAM LEGISLATION Mr. DORGAN. Mr. President, last week we debated the Juvenile Justice Act. We had a good number of provisions, especially dealing with guns, gun shows, and gun sales that were very controversial. I did not speak last week on an amendment I offered to the juvenile justice bill that became a part of that and is now a provision that has been passed by the Senate. I want to take a few minutes today to describe the amendment I offered and its importance.
Some while ago, I was watching a television program. It was about a serial killer, a man who killed four women and one man in Gainsville, FL. The program described the book this serial killer has written: ``The Making of a Serial Killer: The Real Story of the Gainsville Murders in the Killer's Own Words.''
I thought: That cannot be the case. If you murder four or five people and are sent to prison, you lose your right to vote and you lose certain rights. Do you have a right to write a book and profit from it? This television program described the dilemma.
There was a murderer in New York who was described as the ``Son of Sam'' murderer many years ago. He was sent to prison and wrote a book in order to profit from his murder. In other words, a violent murderer goes to prison and spends his time writing a book to sell to the public to make money. Is that a right prisoners have in this country after committing a violent crime? Is there a constitutional right to profit from a violent crime in America? I do not think so.
The State of New York passed a statute, the ``Son of Sam'' statute, and the Federal Government passed a statute saying that the proceeds from a book written by a violent offender who is sent to prison cannot be retained by the violent criminal.
That was appealed and went to the U.S. Supreme Court. Guess what. The U.S. Supreme Court said: No, you may not prohibit the expressive writings of a violent criminal, because that is a violation of the first amendment. I am truncating the Supreme Court decision, but essentially the Supreme Court invalidated the ``Son of Sam'' laws. The Federal law has never been enforced, to my knowledge, and the State laws have been invalidated.
So we had a circumstance where, on the program I watched, this serial killer was interviewed. The woman with whom he apparently is romantically involved, who is one of the sponsors of this book, was interviewed. It raised the question in my mind: Shouldn't we correct this issue and these statutes so the next time this goes to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court will not overturn the law?
I wrote a piece of legislation, after consultation with some constitutional lawyers, that I think does solve this issue and will say to any prospective author, some disgusting human being who murders four young girls and a man in Gainsville, FL, who now says, I want to write a book to describe the detail, the horrible detail of these murders: You can write until you are dead, but you will never ever profit, you will never profit by writing the accounts of your murders and then sell a book and keep the money. Not just you, but your agent, those to whom you assign the profits--you will not be able to reap the rewards of telling the gruesome, dirty tales of your sordid criminal lives.
The juvenile justice bill which passed last Thursday has an amendment in it that closes the loophole and rewrites the Federal law. It says that any individual convicted of any Federal or State felony or violent misdemeanor, if that convicted defendant tries to sell his book, movie rights, or other expressive work or any property associated with the crime--a bloody glove, murder weapon, photos and so on--whose value has been enhanced by that crime, then the U.S. attorney will make a motion to forfeit all proceeds that would have been received by the defendant or the defendant's transferee--spouse, partner, friends, and so on.
Is this important? I think it is. I think we ought to have a Federal statute, and if the Supreme Court said the ``Son of Sam'' statute is not valid, we ought to have a Federal statute that says to anybody in this country: If you commit a violent crime and you go to prison, do not expect to sit in prison and write and profit by publishing a book about your crime.
I offered that in the Senate last Thursday, and I was joined by my colleague, Senator EVAN BAYH. It has now passed the Senate, and my hope is my colleagues in the House will see fit to keep this in the Juvenile Justice Act, and it will go to the President and be signed into law.
(The remarks of Mr. DORGAN pertaining to the submission of S. Res. 105 are located in today's RECORD under ``Submissions of Concurrent and Senate Resolutions.'') END
The "Son of Sam" Law in Florida is codified at F.S. 944.512. In Rolling v. State ex rel. Butterworth, 741 So. 2d 627 (1999, FL 1st DCA), Appellee State, pursuant to Fla. Stat. ch. 944.512, sought imposition of a lien against property in an action against appellant, convicted criminal, especially seeking proceeds from sale of a book containing accounts of the crimes for which appellant was convicted. Appellants argued that Fla. Stat. ch. 960.291(7) violated U.S. Const. amend. I and was, therefore, unconstitutional both on its face and as applied to each of them. Under the plain language of the statute the lien encompassed appellant's art, autographs, and proceeds from them, as well as proceeds from his book. Appellant publisher was receiving benefits on appellant offender's behalf and thus the lien attached to the proceeds she garnered from sale of property. Appellant offender could not transfer his property to appellant publisher to avoid the lien.
In 1997 the State of Florida sued convicted serial killer Danny Rolling and his fiancé/freelance writer Sondra London for the $21,000 the two received from the sale of Rolling's story in books and magazine articles. Based on Florida's Son of Sam Law, also known as the Civil Restitution Lien and Crime Victims’ Remedy Act of 1994, London was ordered to turn over the money to the state. London appealed but the decision was affirmed.
All information and text found at Congressional Chronicle software (C) National Cable Satellite Company 2009