Federal judiciary finally sees light: Restrictions are punishment

By David Post . . . I wanted to add a few words to co-blogger Jonathan Adler’s posting about the recent 6th Circuit decision in Doe v. Snyder, in which the court voided application of the Michigan Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) on the grounds that it imposes retroactive punishment on previously convicted sex offenders in violation of the constitutional prohibition against Ex Post Facto laws.

The decision is an especially important one, possibly signaling, in Mark Stern’s words over on Slate, that “the judiciary has finally begun to view draconian sex offender laws as the unconstitutional monstrosities they obviously are.”

Here’s the case, in a nutshell. The Michigan SORA is typical of the schemes in place in all of the 50 states. Beginning in the mid-’90s, states (with federal encouragement and financial assistance) began requiring all those who had been convicted at any point in the past of having committed a “sex offense” — typically defined, as in the federal statute (42 USC 16911), as “a criminal offense that has an element involving a sexual act or sexual contact with another”** — to provide a wide range of identifying information (names, addresses, places of employment, schools being attended, vehicle make and model, etc.) to law enforcement officials. This information was then placed in state-operated, publicly accessible sex offender registry databases.

** Definitions of the “sex offenses” that require registration vary state by state. While a number of truly heinous and deplorable crimes — rape, assault, child molestation — are included, so too, as detailed in a survey by Human Rights Watch, are many lesser crimes, such as soliciting or providing adult prostitution services (five states), public urination (13 states), consensual sex between teenagers (29 states) and exposing genitals in public (32 states).

Several of these early SORAs were challenged on ex post facto grounds, on the theory that the registration and public notification schemes imposed additional punishment retroactively, i.e., on individuals whose crimes had been committed, and who had been convicted, before the SORA legislation had taken effect (and, indeed, on individuals who had completed serving whatever period of punishment and probation or parole had been imposed upon them, and who therefore, at least in theory, possessed the same constitutional rights as you or me).

The Supreme Court, however, disagreed. In Smith v. Doe, 538 US 84 (1999), the Court held that the registration and public notification provisions of Alaska’s SORA didn’t constitute ex post facto imposition of punishment because they were not “punitive,” but rather “regulatory”: “clearly intended as a civil, non-punitive means of identifying previous offenders for the protection of the public.” The “stigma and adverse community reactions” that could result from registration did not render the Act punitive because “the dissemination of the registration information, which was largely a matter of public record, did not constitute the imposition of any significant affirmative disability or restraint.”

Please see David’s full analysis at The Volokh Conspiracy in the Washington Post.

64 comments for “Federal judiciary finally sees light: Restrictions are punishment

  1. Dipu
    September 21, 2016 at 1:53 am

    American judicial system has established very strict law enforcement and punishment for the people to safeguard general population. As a result millions of americans face jail time for crime that are forgiven and tolerated in other parts of the world. Among all serious crimes sex offenders punishments are highly disproportionate to the harm caused to the victim. As society advances from sexual taboos of yesteryears, harm caused by non-violent sex offenses continues to have less impact on the victim. However punishment code for sex offenses continues to move to the opposite direction. Attacking a person with knife causing serious injury is punished with one year prison term. Touching private parts even without force can be punished by 14 years of prison term.

    Punishment is grossly disproportional to the crime. In most cases the offender is a male and victim is a female. As woman are becoming more independent of sexual purity is no longer perceived as highly as it was few decades ago. Most girls know a lot about sex through internet and other means as soon as they have their puberty. Sexual contact is not as dreaded as it used to be. A sexual experience during teenage years is very common. An affair outside of marriage has become non-consequential for a woman’s character. Woman are no longer tarnished by society for experiencing sexual assault.

    Technology has made sexual experience beyond traditionally accepted norms possible and acceptable. Schools have started giving condoms to middle school kids. There are so many changes to the sexual experience in peoples lives that would eventually make lot of sexual contacts a tolerable unpleasant experience, instead of lifelong stigmatizing memory.

    Considering all these advancement in sex in our life, punishment for sex offenses should be moderated. Instead of spending resources by imprisoning millions of people for sex offenses, resources can be used to educate people against sex crimes. We have started educating children to report sex crimes. We should also educate young and adult not to commit these crimes.

    Prostitution is a crime in most part of the country. Prostitution is similar to drugs. People have practiced both of them for centuries and considered them as criminal business. As society advances we should consider regulating them instead of trying to stop them. Some people in some circumstance do need prostitution as they would need drugs. We have realized that marijuana should be made legal. We should also realize that erotic services should be made legal and regulated. When erotic services is made legal lot of sex related crimes will be gone. A couple with non-compatible sexual desires can seek their pleasure outside without breaking the family and destroying kids future. It is like people with chronic pain finds help from marijuana. When erotic services are made legal we will not see pimp with guns peddling prostitution. Government can establish zoning, tax codes and policing to protect such business from crime and violence.

    Sex offenders are required to register and the information is available to the public. That is a form of punishment equivalent of untouchable lower castes in India. Sex offenders cannot find a place to rent. They are turned off from jobs. It is almost identical to lower caste people in India in previous centuries. Lower caste people could not find a job even if they are qualified. They could only get socially undignified jobs. We see that most sex offenders can do jobs like truck driver or other form of hard labor that are undesired by general population. Sex offenders are life long untouchable outcaste in modern american society.

    • Rick
      September 22, 2016 at 3:50 am

      Lol, in bout 20 years half of all adults and minors in this 50 country debacle will have convictions of some kind, I live in one of the most criminal nations on earth. I have never met a person in this country who is not an alcoholic, drug abuser, or sexually promiscuous, and who didnt steal, lie, or cheat.

      Whats so amazing is how this nation fails to understand it is convicting itself into isolation. I mean really if you are a foreigner why would you risk coming here to be robbed, raped, and murdered, even by cops. Its really ridiculous to see the insane things these people are doing.

      There is really no sense of law here anymore, one judge says its this, another says its that, its like watching the three stooges, who at least make you laugh. Its so demoralizing. I dont even really know what america even stands for anymore. Maybe thats why some people admire some dictators because at least if they say they will kill you they will, lol.

      Our judges dont go by law much anymore, they go by political outcomes. They think that by bending the law they are holding this nation together, when it fact it is having the opposite effect. No one believes anything they say anymore.

      Some people might think im ungrateful for these comments, but you know something, im not, ive done a lot for a lot of people, a lot more good than anything else, but still im like a leper used to be in india, isolated and ignored by an entire country, or 50 countries in one. I say that because I honestly believe soon this experiment will fragment and you will have to pay to go from one state to another. Its just a matter of time we will resemble europe.

      Oh well, I just hope I will be able to reside in one of the 50 countries or at least pay me to leave. An american should have the option of being paid to give up their citizensip and live peacefully elsewhere. Just a thought, lol.

    • H in H
      September 26, 2016 at 10:32 pm

      I am in serious agreement with everything you’ve stated here. The problem with the “sex police” isn’t just the registry. It’s the perception of anything and EVERYTHING even minor in substance being perverted by the courts into a sexual crime. A 14 or 15 yr old girl can be extremely promiscuous. And when she’s caught? By the courts standard she is automatically a victim. Her involvement is NEVER EVER! (I can’t stress NEVER enough!) a consideration. She’s perfect! An innocent precious moments figurine in the eyes of the court. From the moment she’s drug in to be interrogated, the entire process is a thousand times worse than whatever happened. She has no idea of anything other than to NOT appear promiscuous to the police, and her parents. If the person she (or he) accosted has enough God given strength to take the case to court to fight for his or her life and reputation, then the matter is even more traumatizing to the young girl or boy, whichever. The roles are cast by the court “girl, victim”, “boy, aggressor”. It’s always the same thing. The police have NO regard for how much trauma they cause the families by taking trivial crap into a trial. All they care about is a conviction. It’s purely 1000% motivated by votes for reelection and tax payer revenue to pay for more jails. A mans life means absolutely nothing at that point. It wouldn’t matter if you were the Pope, you’re just a hunk of meat with no value except for that which the court can extract whatever resources you have.

      I find a strong bitterness in the handouts of condoms to middle school students. Not one single teacher or parent will utter the words “Here’s a condom, here’s how you use it and why… oh and by the way, ANYTHING you do to use this prophylactic we gave you with YOUR body is automatically criminal until you’re allowed by law to be active”, whilst handing out those condoms. Oh no… we don’t want that! That may “hurt” little Susie and make her feel inferior about her body!

      Just what on earth is wrong with this picture? It’s not just the registry people! It’s what’s deemed a “criminal” act. Looking back on my “crime”, as the state labeled it, I would have been in less trouble had I punched the girl in the mouth. But I made a poor choice to return a kiss to her. She was 15. But even that wasn’t “criminal”. What she did with my hand for 1 second before I pulled it away was twisted and mulled over in court to draw every split nanosecond of it out until I was found guilty, and she came away with the new title “survivor of sex abuse”. This all done as she sat there laughing next to her mother in the courtroom. It’s SICK! ABSOLUTELY SICK! A 1 second touch which she forced upon herself. And she gets to walk away laughing. The DA laughing (no, I’m not joking). Now I’m fighting it, and am in thorough disgust with the system, and the country we call “Land of the free”. I’ve lost a 20 yr career, my house was foreclosed on, I’m in massive debt, and the courts will do WHATEVER they can to twist anything into a conviction. The emotional trauma on me is beyond anything she had to endure. But yet, the entire show of the trial wasn’t enough! It’s still not enough to pay! The registry as well? Prison time? What happened to the “victim”? Was she escorted out by the DA and her mother to be given an ice cream treat at DQ for her bravery? This has to stop. But it’s not just the registry. And I’m not going to bring up the age of consent, but rather the level of harm to an individual. Was there force involved? Then that should be a factor, was there actual harm? And where does all this anger and sentiment for anything sexual in nature come from? I would say the womens rights movement. Or perhaps people who have experienced something sexual in their past relish in being able to relive the experience to get a “Oh, you’re so brave, Oh, you precious precious angel, you’re innocent, you’re so strong! You can overcome anything!” I can imagine it’s a tremendous ego boost for them! I don’t mean to sneer in the face of actual abuse (so don’t go there!), but rather the teenage girls and boys who instigate such matters by their own actions and have probably led a good chunk of those of us being on the registry. The punishment IS SEVERELY… GROSSLY disproportionate, and the law makers assuredly know these alleged “crimes” are just stupid human behavior which they’ve stepped up to the plate to label any and every act concerning a picture, or breast or whatever automatically criminal. But we don’t want to go there, do we? That would cut into peoples “feeling of doing good” by hating those of us who got caught up in some stupid mistake and then on the registry. I really wonder if this post will even be put up on the board.

  2. Rick
    September 19, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    I would not be surprised to see this case go en banc and the decision overturned. One should come to understand the amount of anger and hatred people possess. We live in a truly dysfunctional world where emotion rules. Especially in this case, since the scrotus does not want to deal with it at all.

    In the meantime lots of time and money will be wasted providing people false hope that they are safe. I remember watching a stranger danger movie over 40 years ago in school, but they never warnd us about our own parents, relatives and friends.

    In any case, I would hope those who have offended find a way to control themselves and find some way to be productive even when faced with such odds. Just remember, life isnt easy no matter what your past reveals about you. Just look at trump, despite all of his ignorance he may be our next president. Lol

    • Ralph
      September 20, 2016 at 5:41 pm

      I have been watching this case since last year when Judge Cleland issued is ruling. People are often overlooking sex offenders families. Years ago, we were given custody by the court of a 14 year old relative who was put on the sex offender registry. I think at the time it was for 25 years. Then the tier system became law, and he was put on the registry for life. Since there are few places he can live (refer to Grand Rapids, Mi. map), he is still living with us, although he has a good job and a girl friend and no more arrests. I hope this law becomes final soon.

  3. Dave
    September 16, 2016 at 11:15 am

    The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides, “No person shall … be subject for the same offence [sic] to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” This provision, known as the Double Jeopardy Clause, prohibits state and federal governments from prosecuting individuals for the same crime on more than one occasion, or imposing more than one punishment for a single offense. Each of the 50 states offers similar protection through its own constitution, statutes, and Common Law. According to this ruling the registry in the jurisdiction of this court must be found unconstitutional.

  4. September 16, 2016 at 12:16 am

    Rick I’m with you on that and agree with a lot of other comments on here. This whole sex offender for the most part is abuse of power. It makes things more worse than it does better
    Sure I have my dog day afternoons and sometimes just want to chew my own self out for being stupid and ill responsible in this game of tag that sets up those that have a potty mouth at times.
    A lot of you guys on here don’t even need to be on the registry, but a change is going to come. So Brenda get out that two edged sword and I’m sure with all involved we can get change.

  5. Fred
    September 15, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    For those of us who are waiting for some kind of news on this case, here is an update.
    http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/09/michigan_wants_federal_court_t.html

    My understanding is the State had two options:.

    1. They could ask for En Banc where all the judges in the 6th Circuit review the case
    2. They could ask the same 3 judges who already ruled to reconsider their ruling.

    The state has chosen the second option. My understanding is that is the least likely option to go in their favor.

    I hope someone will correct me if I am mistaken, but I read that if the 6th Circuit does not respond to the State request for a rehearing within 14 days, then the State can assume that they will not receive that rehearing and the case goes back to the District court it started in. If I am correct on this it has now been 6 business days since this Rehearing Request was filed and we should know if it has been granted by September 26th.

    • rwvnral
      September 15, 2016 at 7:20 pm

      Fred, I believe they have both options. The request for rehearing of the exact same panel comes first. Then the option to seek full review of the entire 6th Circuit follows.

      • Fred
        September 15, 2016 at 9:43 pm

        That doesn’t surprise me. I also read that En Blanc is rarely granted by the 6th. So i am not worried, but it does mean a longer wait obviously.

  6. IQ360
    September 15, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    In my opinion, sex offender (SO) registration/registry laws rank right down there with American slavery, the civil war, lynching, women’s suffrage, abortion, the war on drugs, and the Vietnam police action (not a war). It is one of the most contentious issues to come down the pike since the civil rights movement circa 1950s and 1960s. Combatants on both sides of the ball. On one side you have the “Old West” type lynch mob, or proponents of SO laws. These people want the constitutional rights taken away from anyone who has committed a sex crime of any type. They would prefer these people remain behind prison bars—for life; however, they will settle for state sponsored banishment, disenfranchisement, the Scarlet Lettering/stigmatization of and the stripping of all inalienable rights of this person: They believe he/she is not entitled to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. On the other side are the opponents of SO laws. These people believe they are fighting an enemy bent on the destruction of the US Constitution. They are not FOR sex offenses—indeed, no rational person is; and ironically, even those who have committed sex offenses don’t like sex offenders—seriously. Opponents see a bigger picture involved with SO laws than proponents do. Proponents operate strictly from an EMOTION stand point. Logic and reasoning, statistical/empirical evidence on the issue means nothing to them. When say sex offender you might as well have said SPIDER or SNAKE, something to be killed at the sight of. To Proponents they are one in the same. Opponents understand the societal ramifications of SO laws. How they affect the lives of those subject to them and by extension how these laws affect the lives of their family members. A collateral consequence proponents seem to turn a blind eye to. And just what are proponents saying with their silence on that peripheral dynamic? Yes, SO laws can realistically be said to rank right there with some of the most politically charged issues in the last 50 years. And just where will this issue take us as nation?

    • dadoe
      September 17, 2016 at 1:07 am

      Well said.

  7. James Fynes
    September 14, 2016 at 1:13 am

    I’m from PA. My case is indecent assault, (1995) and judge ordered evaluation , their doc.shockingly he said I’m fine,dont need counselling.at sentencing judge said I don’t have to register,its in the transcript.after serving 3 years in Ohio( trafficking) when I reported to pa parole they threatened me with locking me up so I did.at first I was a tier 1(15) years reporting,when I refused counselling and many threat’s along with pointing out that I already had 15 years in and should be done they changed me to a tier 3.no hearing nothing, that should be against the law.I’m speechless any suggestions on anything I can do. Thanks

  8. Michael B.
    September 13, 2016 at 12:29 am

    I am a truck driver in California I’m required to register annually. I do not have a problem with the monitor or registering; neither are a problem for me. I do have a problem with the travel restrictions (I’ve been restricted to Northern CA) and curfew that is imposed upon me. I’m not trying to leave the state but I need to be able to travel and operate throughout the state. The GPS tracking system makes this possible.

  9. rick
    September 12, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    It will be interesting to see what other circuits will say when a lawsuit hits them and their sora is essentially the same as Michigan’s.

  10. Bill
    September 12, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    I was convicted in 1991; and these sex offender registries did not exist. I am a citizen of Michigan and have been on the registry since it’s inception. This has been a long haul. I am looking forward to tomorrow evenings phone conversations.

  11. LLH
    September 10, 2016 at 8:18 pm

    should Michigan be abiding by this recent ruling even if they don’t want to?

    • rwvnral
      September 10, 2016 at 8:34 pm

      It takes a bit of time for the appellate process to come to a complete conclusion (time is allowed for a couple of procedural options). Although the 6th Circuit has made its decision (pending some unexpected modification), the case will be returned to the federal district judge who initially heard the complaint. It will be the responsibility of that judge to determine how to proceed and how the appellate court’s decision will control. The ruling may initially only apply to the named plaintiffs. If that occurs, then it will likely be necessary for further action to be taken in order to extend the reach of the ruling. Or, in the alternative, the district court judge may determine to issue an order covering all those similarly situated. In the midst of ALL of this will be a Michigan Attorney General’s office fighting every aspect of these maneuvers with great tenacity. So it may yet be a while before there is a full realization of the Sixth Circuit’s decision. That’s just the way the process works. Be patient.

      • Fred
        September 10, 2016 at 11:11 pm

        I think that most of us who participate with RSOL haven’t been involved with SO Laws long enough to be familiar with this, but I remember about 15 years ago a Federal Judge (I believe in California) ruled SORs to be unconstitutional and they were shut down nationally almost immediately after the ruling. I actually received a letter from the State Police telling me that due to this ruling I no longer had to register. However within in a year, I guess the states appealed or something, I received another letter from the State Police telling me that I had to start registering again. I do not remember what the circumstances were in this case, but I do remember it was swift and registries nationwide were closed.

        I do realize this case is different and will not happen that swiftly. I wonder if anyone remembers that case about 15 years ago and what the circumstances were that lead to registries being close almost immediately after the ruling.

      • rick
        September 12, 2016 at 7:47 pm

        I can only wonder what kind of harassment and discrimination the three judges will face for their decision based on the law. I’ve come to understand the amount of ignorance in this nation, its overwhelmingly prevalent. But I applaud their decision.

      • LLH
        September 13, 2016 at 7:20 am

        what are the modfications

      • LLH
        September 14, 2016 at 1:58 pm

        is this decision for all Michigan people who have to register or just those who filed the lawsuit

        • rwvnral
          September 14, 2016 at 9:24 pm

          There is no definite answer to this question just yet. Will be a matter for the lower court to determine once the case is finally disposed of at the circuit level (meaning, all available options to the appellees have expired).

      • Michael
        September 15, 2016 at 12:30 am

        RWVRNAL…

        Below is a copy of the news report for 914/16

        Let me know what think. You mentioned that all options will have expired once it goes back to circuit court. They are in no hurry to get this done, My opinion, the attorney general will fight this vigorously. but the decision of the 6th courts will be upheld. Your thoughts on below article:

        Michigan: Court goofed and should reopen sex offender case
        Posted: Sep 14, 2016 9:38 AM EDT
        Updated: Sep 14, 2016 9:38 AM EDT
        LANSING, MI (AP) –
        The attorney general’s office is asking a federal appeals court to reopen a dispute over Michigan’s sex-offender registry.The court recently said Michigan is illegally treating many sex offenders as “moral lepers” by putting additional restrictions on them long after their convictions. But in a new filing, the state says the court overlooked a key decision from 2007 that should have led to a different result.
        It’s a case about electronic monitoring of sex offenders in Tennessee, a retroactive policy that was upheld by the court. The state admits that its lawyers also overlooked that decision.In 2006, Michigan lawmakers restricted people from being near schools. More restrictions followed.
        Miriam Aukerman of the American Civil Liberties Union says the appeals court rightly found Michigan’s registry is “ineffective and unconstitutional.”

        • rwvnral
          September 15, 2016 at 1:39 am

          The case remains in the circuit court’s sphere until such time as the circuit court rehearing options expire. Then the case heads back to the district court where it originated. Should the case finally end up “below” (at the district court level), everyone can relax a bit and take comfort in knowing that the case cannot be disturbed at the present appellate level. At that point in time, the state (AG’s office) will still have the privilege of seeking a Writ of Certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court. But the District court will not wait around to see what the Supreme Court does….and will proceed to dispose of the case in accordance with the 6th Circuit’s opinion (and this is also likely to take a while since the AG’s office will then be arguing that the opinion was more narrow than not).

        • Ron
          September 15, 2016 at 8:56 pm

          It is the direct dissent and jusrisprudency involved that exposed the true intention of this thinly veiled laws. You have jurist who respect the exact interpretation of the constitution and others whom seek pompous point making regarding their own self asorbed understanding with egotistical English comprehension breakdown.

          From the military courts to the district courts all the prosecutorial pundits are concerned about is the notch and the number and the banishment becomes their perpetual pet project from the self righteous tool box.

      • Michael M
        September 22, 2016 at 10:46 am

        Hi all and rwvnral,

        I heard from a few Laywers that deal in Sexual cases that once it does go back to the federal district judge, it may very well only apply to the Named plaintiff’s. Meaning that each offender will have to file individually to be heard and taken off. This may very well be their way of analyzing and determining risk factors of that individual.

        It’s all about money, you have it, you’ll get off it. The argument in the courts and even with AG’s office and Head of State police is that yeah, there are those that need to be monitored closely. News media puts a new case on news of an offender daily. Problem is, no matter how bad the case is of the new offender, they categorize ALL into same category and adds fuel for the AG’s office.

        The state needs to have an actual risk assessment of each and every offender, because there are many that are not the risk the state claims them to be, and there are those that yeah, They want to watch them.

  12. rick
    September 9, 2016 at 11:36 pm

    I’m sorry if i seem abrasive and angry, but I am. I and my family members have had to endure so much related to the nys sora I really wish all those who support and impose it were subjected to something similar or worse.

    What’s really heinous and reprehensible is when politicians think they own people. First they punish you, then subject you to civil confinement, then you are subjected to their vicious and all intrusive sora. So no matter what, you just continue to be in their custody forever.

    They use the same slogans, its all for the children. All the while the state is completely controlled by alcoholics, drug abusers, and thieves. Cuomo even said he would violate the law to protect people. So much for law in this state. But I bet he would never be a foster parent or adopt a child. He’s never done anything but for himself.

    I’m sick and tired of fake people claiming they care about children, when they teach only hatred, greed, self indulgence, and abide by the law only when the votes help them politically.

    All SORA’s are illegal and unconstitutional as a matter of law, and no judge or scrotus can legitimize them. Its a shame a person has to abide by a law they know is illegal by every standard of law in this nation. Now I know how the jews , Indians, Africans, and all those subjected to slavery have felt.

    This is reprehensible and heinous on a large scale, but no judge has the courage to say so. If our nations strength comes from its law, this nation has no right to criticize any other nation.

    As I’ve always said, when in Rome be roman, so if you live by Nazi law then you are a Nazi, that’s the stripe they must bare, while we have to bare the number on our arm.

    I wvill never forgive this nation, and have lost all respect for its flag. Its all so meaningless to me now.

    Its all about pandering for power in this state. The state constitution is worthless. Honestly,

    • Joe M
      September 14, 2016 at 10:09 am

      Please don’t give up on America. The only hope we have is to get the country back to being a republic which follows a constitution. Vote vote vote if you can for constitutional politicians who follow the law and will vote for constitutional Supreme Court Justices. The only reason you can speak out on this subject is the Constitution and the blood of patriots who fought for you to speak nomatter what your past. Respect the Flag and our way of government. Yea there are a lot of assholes and idiots in there now but we have the vote and a voice to fight them.You ARE a citizen and there is power in that alone. This website is a testimony to free speech and gathering a lot of people of the same mind is paramount to getting back to the constitution.

      • Michael
        September 22, 2016 at 11:02 am

        Well said,

        People need to look closely at the people they are voting for. What do they
        Stand for. Correct me if I’m wrong, But read that republican Vice presidential nominee ” Pence” and his Office, wrote the SORA. Pence is very strict on it.

        That said, in the days of Clinton, The truth in sentencing was put into place,
        and even the smallest of Sex crimes was punishable instead of probation. The build up of jails and prisons went thru the roof when Clinton was president.

        Hard choices, Fact is, as long as there is sexual crimes crossing the desks
        of prosecutor’s in every state, the laws will for ever be harsh until it stops.
        The anger goes to a point of crossing the line in punishment however. Problem is, the public will agree on them crossing that line and getting away, until high courts rule they can’t do that… and folks, they count on that because it take a recent offender to challenge it. A vicious circle, abuse of power that needs to stop.

    • Thomas
      September 17, 2016 at 8:12 am

      I agree. It’s sad. And to think we claim to be the greatest nation and that we are free unlike other third world countries is sad

  13. September 9, 2016 at 10:54 pm

    Romeo and Juliet hmmm ? I use to watch Sonny and Cher way back when and yes she was 16 when she met him, they married at 17 and he was a lot older. I still love some of her songs. If this law was the way it was back than there would be not Sonny and Cher but the point is there none the less. I think its time to .. turn back time with this one. It doesn’t do anyone any good to be on the registry for life with restrictions.

    • Maestro
      September 12, 2016 at 8:13 pm

      James,
      The laws were the same back in the Sonny and Cher days (legal age 16 in 27 states) it’s just that back then there was no internet, no social media outlets (other than newspapers and typical TV) and no serious uproar about the fact that human beings dabble in their sexualities.
      Remember, there USED to be a 42nd Street that was nothing but sex. I was there back before the days of Rudy Guilianni. Granted it looks much nicer now, but the point is that we are a society that is somehow disgusted by sex yet we use it to sell beer and cars on lots of commercial advertising. Or how about those “bikini car washes”? Yeah. We’re all so disgusted by the idea of sex.
      I’ve never seen a bikini car-wash with 40+ yr old women jumping around holding up “car-wash” signs. But I DO see maybe the 20 somethings looking as YOUTHFUL as possible to attract men. The very same men they would call “creepy” if we randomly flirted with them on the street. Hypocrites.

  14. rick
    September 9, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    Are there really three judges in America who actually go by the Constitution, they should be disbarred immediately. This country is Nazi and fascist, we apply their laws.

    Just ask justice Kennedy, he thinks freedom means you have to tell local, state, and federal governments everything about yourselves or go to prison. That’s true fascism.

  15. Fred
    September 9, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    This just came to my attention . The state of Michigan is asking for a rehearing from the same court and same judges. The court has not answered them. I would sure like to know if there is a time limit for the court to respond.

    This is one of the options that rwvnral highlighted for us last week on a different blog post. I understand that this is the option that is least likely to go in the state’s favor and that if the court does not grant a rehearing then the case goes back to the lower court where it started and that court must issue a new judgement that is in par with the 6th’s opinion.

    • rwvnral
      September 9, 2016 at 3:51 pm

      Very well put, Fred.

    • rick
      September 9, 2016 at 5:41 pm

      Yes, its a bit surprising to me to see them make this ruling. But, it only relates to the Michigan sora amendments of 2006 and 2011. It does not abolish the registry at all.

      When it should be abolished because the state and federal government know all of your information through public and private forums there is no need to have individuals report at all.

      • Michael
        September 22, 2016 at 11:18 am

        It will only apply to those convicted prior to enactment of 2006 and 2011.

        The registary will always be in place, even if the 6th court decisions is upheld
        Those prior to 2006, won’t really be off the registary, just won’t be searchable
        for public, and reporting duties will seize for those prior to those dates.

        I have been on it 25 years, I travel to different countries without a problem.
        Notify proper people ( local fuzz) that I’m traveling and there’s never a problem.
        The new law that Obama signed is going to be a doozer for many as it places
        restrictions and burden on the whole family not just the offender. Be sure
        to Log into that Live voice your opinion and be heard to get this overturned, or
        you’ll be on a world wide registary, not just your state.

  16. Dave
    September 9, 2016 at 11:21 am

    This should end the registry for all who are under this courts jurisdiction because if the registry rules are considered punishment then it is a double jeopardy violation for anyone to be on the registry after punishment has been served.

    • steri
      September 12, 2016 at 9:12 am

      I completely agree! The registry should be destroyed. If a sex offender is a criminal, then all criminals need to be treated equal.

    • Michael
      September 22, 2016 at 11:37 am

      It should end it but it won’t. After the enactment of the registary, sentencing judges
      are required to inform you and included it as part of the sentencing. If you pled to
      it in your plea deal, then your bound to it. It’s within their legal jurisdiction now. And really hard to challenge.

      However, if you were sentence and that was NOT part of your sentencing and
      Plea agreement, then yes it’s challengeable and those are (I think), will be the ones
      that this case affects and subject to be removed. Reference from several different law Offices. I myself hold two graduate degrees and yea, I’m an offender as well. We all come from different walks of life and make bad mistakes.

      I do hope it changes a lot of the registary and that, but that’s wishful thinking.
      The AG’s office is not going down without a fight, there’s a lot behind him.
      But is all sense, the constitution is the constitution, lets hope for positive results
      in the up coming weeks.

    • Michael
      September 24, 2016 at 1:02 am

      Double Jeopardy doesn’t seem to hold much weight nowadays. Least they always tend to claim the “whoops” excuse then pass the buck.

      I was arrested 6 times in 2 years for failing to register. ( And I never failed to register either). After about the 4th time The same cop kept arresting me, saying “uh, something isn’t right here” and didn’t even handcuff me the last 3 times.
      It appeared someone didn’t enter information correctly when I sold my house and bought a new one in same area. ( county) It was thrown out of court on all 6 times.
      The last two times I never even gotten into the court room, the prosecutor walked by
      looked at me, put his head down shaking it with the ” Oh Thiiittt” look and walked back over to me with a dismissal. that quick. No apologies or nothing.

      Attorney made it clear that next time suit gets filed. So far that was years ago.
      Point is verify all info is correct and verify they filed it, and changed it. So many times when having to go in for registration the police forget, and papers end up….well who knows. Point is they are over burdened with having to keep up the registry. They actually don’t like doing the paperwork. A point mentioned in the 6th court of appeals case that it is a burden to state and it cost $1.3 million a year to keep it up Tax payers foot the bill.
      They want to save money, do something better with it like fix the roads, or flints water. Instead of the registry.

  17. Karen J Knoll
    September 9, 2016 at 9:28 am

    Thanks to all the people that are involved in this fight to make a wrong right! Initially, the sex offender list was intended for protection from hardened, repeat sexual offenders. Then the state of Michigan and many other states got carried away. Low risk people have been punished long enough. Romeo and Juliet cases should never have been made public. The tier system pigeon holed everyone convicted into one of three categories and the judges hands were tied to look at individual situations. Kudos and praise for all that have been involved in getting a Federal Court ruling. It’s a step in the right direction for many people that have served their sentences and the punishments should end. So many families have also suffered and needlessly!

    • Ron
      September 10, 2016 at 7:14 am

      Thank you for you compassion. In the worst way I’ve had to unfortunenately seek to move my family from military base to military base, even overseas to avoid ostracization from a supposedly civil community, I had people make up lies and disseminate information on my SO status in government housing and I had no choice but to fight back. The mere fact is, that I understood the law and exercised authority due to many years of experience as a service member and my rank helped getting others to listen and to bring forth dialogue. I had to educate idiots and literally write up recommended punishment of vigilant harassers who thought they had a right to infringe or disrespect me and my family. It did take a significant amount of research procedural know-how to fight back with satisfying results. Now I’m similarly in the most profound fight of my life in federal court defending my constitutional protections for deserved retirement which was taken from usual honors of any similarly positioned retiree at this point in military life. I was a Convicted SO (with a class B felony) that carried a weapon and went to war post conviction , awarded and promoted numerous times past that point as well. It is contradictory towards the normal conscript and regular expectations of a felon in possesion of a weapon. I ponder if I can go to court and challenge proven responsible rehabilitative arguments In regard to restorative rights dealing with the use of a firearm that I legally actively used and carried post-conviction. Their are so many impossibles that I’ve surpassed he standard threshold of due to being a convicted SO and allowed to persist for a long period until congress and the office of the president of the United States got involved, which literally dictated my discharge and eventual outcome. The pentagon knew I was a “problem child” that had a family which needed protection from vigilance and sent me overseas to alleviate that harm caused. My privacy and criminal background was illegally disseminated by a security clearance operator within my command to others who had no need or authority to know my status which eventually compromised my family and caused immediate
      furor among the military community at large. I am sure my presence there, was responsible for shaping federal and congressional policy for my ouster and eventual return to he US because of my semi-defunct SO status. The military community at best, contains a repugnant reactionary stance qualifying itself with uneducated comprehension of its own said policies. I’ve learned eversince to adapt to military’s affinity for awkwardness and I’m very keen on combating against the bureaucracy that bemoans the us government as a whole. My federal court petition is being fought and won on the preliminaries and follow up continuances
      while awaiting interim of suffering due process before arbitrary boards. I have never thought I would come to live in a country so bound by it political ambitions and self serving ways. I risked my all and every to serve even in the face of ptsd and other stigmatized constraints yet to be told I am not honorable enough for receiving retirement. That is an outright shame. To show a true intent and case of rehabilitation furthered with resiliency yet to be discredited and downed by those who have no humility such as this proud non commissioned officer, decorated, served with honorable and valuable distinction among his peer and subordinates. This is nothing like the nation I have come to have known. We are losing on all fronts.

  18. rick
    September 9, 2016 at 1:12 am

    In Snyder v. Doe the 6th circuit claimed there were regulatory aspects to a sorna. And it cited Kennedy’s rambling narrative saying no restraints of liberty were imposed.

    When in fact there is nothing regulatory about a sora. The information was already widely available to ignorant Americans, not only through criminal conviction sites but also through numerous public websites, and now through a federal website.

    When a government utilizes judges and cops to force a person to appear in a court or police station at fixed times this is called “custody”, but there is no mention of this in the Snyder v. Doe case. Secondly, this means you are on a state continuum of punishment as any circuit court would know, and a mere substitute for a court or police station appearance by using a registration form is the sane thing, ” custody.”

    Yet you have no right to invoke your 5th amendment right not to be compelled to incriminate oneself even if you were lying to them. Can you smell a rat or what. They have made a joke out of the entire legal system.

    This doesn’t even begin to touch the total and complete unraveling of the 1st amendments protections against compelled or discrimated sppech. I could easily destroy Kennedys entire rationale in less than ten minutes. The guy is a commie who should be disbarred and all of his writings and decisions banished from our history books. That man is entirely responsible for this sham of a law, and probably in cahoots with the group who assembled the law for the legislature.

    I was born a free man and intend to die a free man, not as a slave to this nation of lies. This country has survived 240 years, I hope it doesn’t make it to 250.

  19. September 9, 2016 at 12:05 am

    On a lighter note the only problem Andy Taylor had was Otis Campbell making moonshine but I’m sure they could make a federal sex case out of that.

  20. September 8, 2016 at 11:52 pm

    Guys you all got to stand up on this and I’m doing my part here. I like Fred saying he just got finished from verifying. Every month when my PO comes to the house, sometimes I will go to his office.
    One time he told me leave my bible at home LOL. Now I know he has his orders but when it comes right down to it all a money game and a type of controlling effect.
    Heck I get off PO in about 10 yrs. but last time he came to the house I told him,, The only person I fear is God and I know its hard to get some sort of biblical standards in this Nation and that’s why the election is so important.
    In the long run I feel I shouldn’t of taken a Plea but I wasn’t better prepared to go to court
    Most of those pubic attorneys still get their money any regardless and weather the truth comes out or not the state doesn’t want to bow down.

  21. Lin
    September 8, 2016 at 10:54 pm

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but does this still not set a precedent? They seems to jump all over rulings from other states when it suits them, why shouldn’t this be treated the same way?

    • rwvnral
      September 8, 2016 at 11:00 pm

      It certainly sets precedence among the states that comprise the Sixth Circuit, and it will be binding there. Outside of the Sixth, its effect is called “persuasive authority,” meaning that sister circuits (and federal district judges) WILL TAKE NOTE of the decision and consider its weight whenever they are called upon to decide a similar question of law. “TAKE NOTE” means to consider…not to be bound by.

      • Jeremy Heady
        September 8, 2016 at 11:06 pm

        And, since the courts seem to vary in their decisions in these matters, once the Supreme court gets a writ of certiorari, they will definitely grant it. I have to agree with another poster though that it will take a minimum of three years for it to change. Prohibition was recognized as a mistake almost immediately, yet it still took the government three years to fix it.

      • rick
        September 9, 2016 at 12:07 am

        Your persuasive authority argument related to other circuits is not genuine. Other circuits do not need to consider the 6th circuits decisions at all. Insofar as the 6ths circuits decision goes this was already determined in smith v. Doe they were so willing to utilize. If several circuits issued the same ruling then it might be considered persuasive authority.

        Granted those in Michigan will receive some relief it is likely to be short lived since the state will enact different measures.

        You people just don’t get it, do you. This issue isn’t about registration, its about slavery and loss of citizenship. Its so fascinating to watch the corruption of the law in real time. But hardly surprising since Europeans are very adept at violating treaties and their own law.

        Nice try with the legal narrative but its about 50 years out of date. Simply sharing reality with everyone, not legal jargon.

        • rwvnral
          September 9, 2016 at 12:14 am

          As a matter of judicial courtesy, persuasive authority is always considered. But it is not binding. Which is what was previously stated. Unfortunately, this is ALL about “legal jargon”…and RSOL is committed to expanding our advocates’ capacity to understand “legal jargon.” We cannot be ignorant and expect to be useful. We must learn the jargon of the system to comprehend how to advance our cause.

        • rick
          September 9, 2016 at 12:45 am

          Well I hardly think north Carolina would give anyone any courtesy regarding so’s, especially a northern circuit. Lol

          As far as ignorance of the law goes, maybe you could discuss the ignorance of judges like Kennedy, who knows nothing about the law.

  22. rick
    September 8, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    You might as well go on a long vacation before the law changes, if at all. Should be about three years, in the meantime the state will write new laws to complicate your lives further. They have all the money and corrupt judges to back them up, like dumbya bush said, the constitution is just a piece of paper.

  23. Fred
    September 8, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    I am in Michigan. I just got home from verifying. It was business as usual. The registering officer even reminded me to come back in March.
    According to this ruling by the 6th, I am among those who will be removed from the registry when this ruling goes into effect. I understand that it doesn’t happen immidiatly and that the state has options on how they can proceed I wish someone could tell me if there is a deadline for when the state has to act or for when the lower court can issue a new judgement that is in par with the 6th’s opinion. How long is this wait going to be before anything happens? Does anyone know?

  24. Jeremy Heady
    September 8, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    I think what’s really important about this decision is that it will lead to overturning Smith v. Doe. If you read the transcript of the argument in Smith v. Doe, registrants did not have to register in person. They were only required to fill out and return a form by mail to the state. The information was not widely distributed online by third party sources. There was also no such thing as range restrictions and liberty restrictions at the time. My biggest fear is that prosecutors and state AGs know that once Smith is overturned, the whole system will fall to pieces, so if they lose in court at the appeals level, they may refuse to raise the argument to the Supreme Court. What it might take is a court to side with the state and the offenders will have to appeal to the higher court. It’s sad that this is how our system works, but a law or decision cannot be overturned without someone claiming injury.

    • Emil S
      September 8, 2016 at 10:18 pm

      I hope this whole registry fall to pieces as it is no more than added punishment and passive eugenics.

      • Jeremy Heady
        September 8, 2016 at 11:01 pm

        The good thing is that about half of state’s supreme courts have already deemed the registry in their state as punishment and now federal courts are starting to follow suit. It’s only a matter of time before the entire system is declared punishment although that won’t fix things immediately. Once it’s declared punishment, a whole slew of constitutional arguments are going to be raised. Ex post facto is the most common argument today, but other arguments will gain ground once Smith is overturned such as no bills of attainder, the equal protection clause, no cruel and unusual punishment, and especially due process. Due process is the requirement that you be able to defend yourself in a court of law before a punishment can be imposed. I am ordering my trial transcripts as we speak to fight on those grounds here in Indiana since my state has declared SORA punitive.

        • Dave
          September 14, 2016 at 11:28 am

          And Double Jeopardy!

  25. Ryan
    September 8, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    Can anyone please explain this a little bit further. I feel that this will affect me in a good way. I have read the entire article however I am still lost a bit

    • Fred
      September 8, 2016 at 3:51 pm

      If you were convicted before 2006, the changes in the SORA do not apply to you IF this ruling ever goes into effect.

      • Ryan
        September 8, 2016 at 4:53 pm

        So this would overturn (if it goes through) the tier that they put me in? This would be awesome news as in NC I am elegible to get off.

        • rwvnral
          September 8, 2016 at 10:29 pm

          The ruling in the Sixth Circuit will only affect registrants on the Michigan sex offender registry. It will provide additional relief to registrants in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio who are similarly situated and affected by the same variety of restrictions—and who bring challenges seeking relief pursuant to the Sixth Circuit’s decision. We do NOT anticipate that this decision will remove anyone from the standard registration requirements as the challenge was successful only insofar as the state of Michigan has ADDED requirements to basic registration. This case should not be read as any kind of relief from the core requirement of registering as a sex offender. That is to extend the decision far beyond the questions presented to the Court.

          In North Carolina, you should be most attuned to similar actions that make their way before the Fourth Circuit. Federal circuit court opinions only control in their geographical jurisdictions. For example, a similar decision (or any decision) by the Fourth Circuit would only be controlling in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

        • Ryan
          September 13, 2016 at 8:31 pm

          Let me give you some information. I was convicted in 2001 of CSC 2 in Michigan. I am now 34 years old of a crime that happened when I was 17. For me every time I go to register in person they would ask me why don’t you just petition to get off of the registry. Apparently North Carolina you can petition the sentencing court to allow you to be removed from the state registry after 10 years.
          In 2013, I believe, when they change the laws in group me into a tier 3 registration instead of looking at my case specifically that was no longer on the table. Now this gives me hope that I can potentially get off of the registry, at least here in North Carolina.

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