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In criminal cases, it is not uncommon for courts to order restitution along with the criminal sentencing. My Arizona bar newsletter contained a story about a lawyer who got the statutory law changed so he could represent his daughter in seeking criminal restitution for the death of his son-in-law. The case began with a 7 AM traffic accident at an intersection. The decedent, Jeffrey Roof, turned left across several lanes of traffic. The accused, Jeffrey Meyn, sped up to get through the intersection on, he claims, a yellow light. Meyn t-boned Roof’s automobile. There were no drugs or alcohol involved. Meyn stayed at the scene and was released by the officers who told him that he was not at fault.
The police continued to investigate. Meyn cooperated with the investigation even testifying before a grand jury. Meyn’s lawyer notified the prosecutor in writing that if he were going to be charged, Meyn would voluntarily turn himself in. Instead, the police used Meyn’s six-year-old son to lie to Meyn to get Meyn outside where the police swarmed him with weapons drawn, ordered him to his knees and handcuffed him, all apparently in front of the six year old.
The grand jury indicted Meyn on a manslaughter charge, which carries a sentence of seven to 15 years in prison. He took a plea bargain. He pleaded guilty to negligent homicide to avoid the possibility of a long prison sentence. The plea-bargain contained a provision stating that he could be held responsible for restitution to the victims in an amount not to exceed $1 million. Because of the plea-bargain, he served 13 months in prison.