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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. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  2. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  3. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  4. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  5. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

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