7th Circuit rules on sex offender registration

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A reasonable grace period is required before the federal government can enhance a convicted sex offender's punishment for not registering after a move to a new state, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today.

That timeframe falls somewhere between zero days and five months, according to the ruling in the consolidated cases of U.S. v. Marcus Dixon, 08-1438, and U.S. v. Thomas Carr, No. 08-2008.

In deciding a case that's the first of its kind in this Circuit, the federal appellate panel dismissed claims that the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act was unconstitutional on several fronts and instead focused mostly on the notice received from the federal government before a criminal failure to register with state authorities is enhanced to a federal crime.

The court reversed the judgment against Marcus Dixon with direction to acquit while affirming the decision in Thomas Carr's case.

Both were convicted in the Northern District courts - Dixon after a bench trial in 2007 for failure to register with state authorities after moving to Indiana in 2006 before the regulation was adopted; Carr after pleading guilty and moving to the state.

The law in question imposes criminal penalties on any state or federally convicted sex offender who, among other things, knowingly fails to register as a sex offender. Congress gave the U.S. Attorney General authority to specify when that timeframe to register applies. Dixon was charged and ultimately convicted on grounds that he didn't register on or about Feb. 27, 2007 - the date the rule was adopted; Carr had not registered by July 2007.

But while Dixon should have known that he needed to register, his ex post facto rights were violated because the federal law imposes on that existing crime a new federal criminal penalty on top of any state punishment for not registering, the court wrote.

"Whatever the minimum grace period required to be given a person who faces criminal punishment for failing to register as a convicted sex offender is, it must be greater than zero," Judge Richard Posner wrote, referring to the government's charge that he didn't register on or near the same time the rule was passed.

Carr's case was different, as he had about five months to register and failed to do so, Judge Posner wrote, noting that it was a sufficient grace period.

"Remember that on our interpretation of the statute as filled out by the regulation, the duty to register does not come into force on the day the Act becomes applicable to a person, or on the next day or next week, but within a reasonable time..."

Overall, the court determined that the law isn't unconstitutional and any convicted sex offender must register even if they came to the state prior to the federal law's passage.


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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.