ILNews

Application of residency law unconstitutional

Rebecca Berfanger
January 1, 2008
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The Indiana Court of Appeals today upheld a lower court's ruling that in at least one case of the state's application of a law prohibiting violent and child sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school or public area where children congregate is unconstitutional.

The ruling came in State of Indiana v. Anthony W. Pollard, No. 05A02-0707-CR-640. Judges heard arguments in the case March 31. The state argued that Indiana Code Section 35-42-4-11 was not considered ex post facto law as applied to Anthony W. Pollard, but the appeals court disagreed and affirmed a ruling by Blackford Superior Judge John Forcum that dismissed the felony charge against him.

At the time of his April 4, 1997, criminal conviction of committing a sex-related offense against a child, Pollard's home was within 1,000 feet of a school property, a youth program center, or a public park. He was not required to move away from his home as part of his sentence or as a result of his conviction. At the time he had lived there for about 10 years. That was nearly 10 years before the sex-offender residency statute went into effect July 1, 2006.

He still lives in the same home. On Jan. 26, 2007, the state charged Pollard with a Class D felony sex-offender residency offense. On March 2, 2007, Pollard filed a motion to dismiss. The trial court granted Pollard's motion to dismiss June 21, 2007, determining that Indiana Code section 35-42-4-11 violated the ex post facto prohibition contained in Article 1, Section 24 of Indiana's Constitution as applied to Pollard, adding that the application of Indiana Code Section 35-42-4-11 served to retroactively increase the punishment for the crime committed.

The state appealed, but the Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court.

"While we cannot speak to the purpose of the residency statute, we can observe its unmistakable effect," wrote Judge Paul D. Mathias. "The residency statute clearly increases the penalty applied to affected sex offenders by preventing those offenders from residing and taking full advantage of their ownership rights in property acquired prior to conviction and prior to the imposition of the statute. In contrast, the registration statute does not implicate any fundamental rights; rather, it places only an administrative burden on offenders."

Judge Mathias continued, "The residency statute also impinges upon one of this country's most closely held rights, the right to property."

The opinion also examines other states' versions of the sex-offender residency restrictions.
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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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