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Justices take sex offender case

November 22, 2010

The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer to a case filed by a convicted felon who refuses to register as a sex offender for life.

The justices accepted Edwin G. Buss, et al. v. Michael L. Harris, No. 52S02-1011-CV-642. Michael Harris pleaded guilty to felony child molesting in 1999 and was re-incarcerated twice for parole violations. He learned in 2007 that he’d be designated as a sexually violent predator and would have to register for life after state statutes had been revised. He refused to sign the forms and sued in late 2007.

The trial court granted Harris’ requests for declaratory and injunctive relief, relying on Wallace v. State, 905 N.E.2d 371, 374-377 (Ind. 2009), and Jensen v. State, 905 N.E.2d 384 (Ind. 2009).

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court in May 2010, ruling the Indiana Department of Correction isn’t authorized to determine whether an offender is a sexually violent predator. They rejected the state’s construction of the statutory provisions, ruling the legislature didn’t intend that an offender could have completed his sentence and reporting requirement and, without notice, be found in violation of lifetime reporting requirements because of amendments to statute.

The appellate judges cited Jones v. State, 885 N.E.2d 1286 (Ind. 2008), to support their ruling.
 

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