State high court upholds restitution
for drunk driving widow
Photo courtesy adgoodness
By Julia Cheever
November 27, 2007
The California Supreme Court ruled yesterday that trial judges
have the power to order convicted killers to pay restitution to
the spouses of their victims for loss of support.
The court issued the decision in San Francisco in a Riverside
County case in which a widow sought economic restitution from
a man who killed her husband in a drunken driving incident in
The panel upheld a trial judge's order that Charles Giordano
must pay $167,712 in restitution to Patricia Armstrong, whose
husband, Kenneth Armstrong, a roofing supervisor, was hit and
killed by Giordano while driving under the influence of alcohol.
Giordano pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and was sentenced
to four years in prison in addition to being ordered to pay the
The high court said by a 6-1 vote that a state law on victim
restitution encompasses compensation for loss of future support.
The panel rejected Giordano's argument that the law should cover
only past losses up until the time of a restitution hearing.
Justice Carlos Moreno wrote, "We hold that a surviving spouse
may receive as direct restitution the amount of lost economic
support incurred due to a criminal act that resulted in the death
of his or her spouse."
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