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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. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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