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Judge believes court could remove man from sex offender list

July 26, 2012

Indiana Court of Appeals Chief Judge Margret Robb dissented from her colleagues in a case involving a man who wanted his name taken off the Indiana Sex Offender Registry.

Jeremiah Cline had sex with a 15-year-old and 14-year-old in February and June 2001. An amendment to the Indiana Sex Offender Act effective July 1, 2001, required someone with Cline’s Class C felony sexual misconduct with a minor convictions to register as a sex offender.

When he was released from prison, he was required to register. In 2011, he sought to have his name removed from the registry. The trial court found he had no obligation to continue to register but that it lacked authority to “expunge” his existing information from the registry.

Judges L. Mark Bailey and Paul Mathias agreed, pointing out that Cline argues for complete expungement of his name and information from the registry because retention of that information has a punitive effect upon him. The majority declined to read Wallace v. State, 905 N.E.2d 371, 384 (Ind. 2009), as broadly as Cline wants and won’t add a provision to include expungement, Bailey wrote.

Although Indiana Code 11-8-8-22, the statute created as a result of Wallace to provide for how to remove one’s name from the registry, provides a mechanism to petition the court for relief from obligation of continued registration and disclosure, the majority believed that Cline must go through administrative routes with the Department of Correction to remove his name.

Robb wrote that the majority misused the term “expungement” and that Cline wanted removal of his name, not a complete erasure of his record. She believed that I.C. 11-8-8-22, which “is poorly written and confusing,” allows the trial court to remove one’s name from the registry. If the statute does not mean that a court may remove an offender’s name and information, then it has no meaning at all, she wrote.


 

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