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COA rules on re-registration of offenders

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Two sex offenders serving or who had completed their 10-year registration period shouldn't have been required to re-register for another 10-year period after being convicted of any other crime, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded today.

In Michael Greer and John Maggi, on their own behalf and on behalf a class of those similarly situated v. Edwin Buss, et al., No. 49A02-0903-CV-243, the appellate court found the Marion Superior Court erred in granting summary judgment for Edwin Buss, Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Correction, and other defendants in Michael Greer and John Maggi's suit arguing that they didn't have to re-register as sex offenders for a second 10-year period.

The two filed for a proposed class action lawsuit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief with respect to the DOC's policy that individuals convicted of certain sex or violent offenses requiring a 10-year registration period must re-register for another 10 years if convicted for any criminal offense.

Greer was convicted of child molesting in 1991, registered as a sex offender in 1996, and was no longer required to register in February 2006 because the 10-year period expired. Several months later, he was convicted of a drunken driving charge and told by the DOC he had to re-register as a sex offender until November 2016. Because he had to re-register, he wasn't able find a place to live that wasn't within 1,000 feet of where children congregate.

Maggi was convicted of possessing child pornography in Illinois in 1998 and registered in Indiana in 2003 when he moved here. He pleaded guilty to a drunken driving offense in 2004 and was told in 2008, after his 10-year registration period had ended, that he had to re-register for another 10-year period because of the 2004 conviction.

The statute requiring registration for 10 years changed July 1, 2008, which added language about an offender having to re-register if they are convicted of a sex or violent crime after their original registration period ended.

It could be argued that prior to the addition of that language, the statute required registration upon a subsequent conviction for any offense or for an offense that itself required registration under the statute, wrote Judge Carr Darden. But using the rule of lenity, the appellate court concluded prior to the amendment, the statutory provision didn't specify that registration would be triggered for another 10-year period upon any future conviction.

"This leads to the logical conclusion that an offender was only required to register again after completion of the ten-year registration period upon conviction for an offense for which the statute requires registration," wrote Judge Darden.

In addition, to interpret the statute as the DOC does would violate the prohibition on ex post facto laws with regards to Greer and Maggi.

The Court of Appeals also disagreed with the trial court decision that declaratory judgment wasn't appropriate because Greer and Maggi could bring their challenges against the statute as a defense if they're prosecuted for failing to register. A plaintiff doesn't have to expose himself to actual arrest or prosecution to be entitled to challenge a statute that may deter him of his constitutional rights.

The appellate judges did affirm denial of the class action certification because the plaintiffs failed to show "representativeness" and Greer and Maggi have factual and legal issues that separate them from others.

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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