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COA decides sex offender registration plea case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals today declined to ignore a year-old precedent from the state's highest court about sex offender registration, finding that the ruling still applies to cases where an offender once signed a plea agreement requiring him to follow lesser registration requirements.

Unanimously deciding Oscar Blakemore v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0907-CR-614, the appellate panel reversed a ruling from Marion Superior Commissioner Marie Kern that found Oscar Blakemore guilty of Class D felony failure to register as a sex offender.

Blakemore pleaded guilty in 1999 to felony sexual misconduct with a minor, and that document said he would "comply with the statutory requirements of registering with local law enforcement as a sex offender." He was released from probation in early 2000 - before state law was changed to include his offense on the registration list ­- but returned to prison for probation violations twice more through the years. He was finally released without any remaining probation requirements in February 2005, and he registered at least five times after that. In April 2008, police arrested him for failure to register as a sex offender.

Arguing that his newest conviction is unconstitutional, the Court of Appeals agreed when applying last year's Supreme Court decision in Wallace v. State, 905 N.E.2d 371, 377 (Ind. 2009). In that case, justices decided that Wallace's conviction for failure to register as a sex offender violated the state constitutional prohibition against ex post facto laws because no registration requirement was in place at the time of his conviction. For Wallace, a plea agreement wasn't at issue as it is in Blakemore.

While the Indiana Attorney General's Office didn't explicitly argue that the registration requirement could be imposed on Blakemore without violating the ex post facto law, it did assert that the Wallace analysis "may be ignored" because Blakemore had agreed to follow statutory registration guidelines - even though the requirement being imposed on him for his 2008 arrest wasn't in place at the time of his plea agreement.

Applying contract law analysis and reviewing precedent, the appellate court ruled in Blakemore's favor. Judge Melissa May authored the opinion, with Judges Carr Darden and James Kirsch concurring.

"We therefore decline the State's invitation to ignore the Wallace analysis," Judge May wrote. "We decline to hold Blakemore 'agreed' to requirements the (Indiana) Code did not impose when he entered into that requirement."

In a later part of the ruling, Judge May addressed the state's assertion that Blakemore waived his ex post facto argument by not raising any constitutional concerns at the time of his guilty plea.

"As explained above, the 'constitutional concern' now before us did not exist when Blakemore entered into his plea agreement," she wrote. "Rather, his plea agreement contained a clause that by its very language did not apply to Blakemore, and neither he nor his counsel could be expected to predict what amendments our legislature might make to the sex offender registration act."

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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