A convicted voyeur who died while appealing a nearly $18,000 restitution order in favor of his victim is still on the hook for the money, even if it has to come from his share of community property held with his wife, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled last week.
Richard Allen Reed was convicted in February 2016 of voyeurism after a female co-worker caught him in 2015 using a mirror to look under a closed door while she used the restroom at a business in Wickenburg. He was placed on probation and ordered to pay $17,909.50 to the victim to cover attorneys’ fees she incurred by hiring a private attorney to protect her rights in the criminal case.
A restitution lien was prepared by the Clerk of the Maricopa County Superior Court in favor of the victim and filed with the county recorder against Reed’s interest in his home and vehicle.
Reed appealed the restitution order but died in April 2018 before the court of appeals ruled in the case. The appellate court then dismissed the pending appeal, citing Arizona Revised Statute 13-106 which stated any pending appeal dies with the defendant.
But in January, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled legislators “lacked authority” to instruct a court how to handle such appeals. The justices sent the matter back to the court of appeals for further proceedings, thus allowing Reed’s defense attorney to continue challenging the restitution order.
The dispute centered on whether the victim’s attorneys’ fees were eligible for restitution in this case, and if so, whether the amount the victim’s attorney claimed was reasonable.
Court records show the victim’s attorney billed more than 37 hours of attorney time and 19 hours of paralegal time connected to the criminal case during a six month period. Reed’s attorney argued the nearly $400 hourly rate for the victim’s attorney was unreasonable, noting it was more than “any judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, or any other government lawyer” was being paid.
Another of Reed’s arguments was that there was insufficient evidence to show the victim paid or was actually required to pay the attorneys’ fees.
On Oct. 20, the court of appeals upheld the restitution order, finding Reed -and later his defense attorney- failed to provide evidence that the trial court erred in issuing the order in the first place.
“Simply put, Reed has not shown the lawyer’s hourly rate, or the restitution awarded, impermissibly punished the defendant, provided the victim a windfall or was otherwise improper,” the decision reads.
Another effect of the Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling in January was that Reed’s widow was given standing to intervene, or join, in the appeal. She did not challenge the amount of restitution, only the effect of the lien on her community property interest.
The Oct. 20 decision denied the widow’s request for relief, noting she had not first sought redress from the County Recorder or the Clerk of the Superior Court. The court of appeals did, however, grant her leave to seek relief “in an appropriate forum by filing an appropriate action naming and joining the necessary parties.”
The decision takes effect Nov. 20 unless any of the parties file a petition for review with the Arizona Supreme Court. It is unclear from court records whether Reed ever made any restitution payments to the victim.