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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. I can understand a 10 yr suspension for drinking and driving and not following the rules,but don't you think the people who compleate their sentences and are trying to be good people of their community,and are on the right path should be able to obtain a drivers license to do as they please.We as a state should encourage good behavior instead of saying well you did all your time but we can't give you a license come on.When is a persons time served than cause from where I'm standing,its still a punishment,when u can't have the freedom to go where ever you want to in car,truck ,motorcycle,maybe their should be better programs for people instead of just throwing them away like daily trash,then expecting them to change because they we in jail or prison for x amount of yrs.Everyone should look around because we all pay each others bills,and keep each other in business..better knowledge equals better community equals better people...just my 2 cents

  2. I was wondering about the 6 million put aside for common attorney fees?does that mean that if you are a plaintiff your attorney fees will be partially covered?

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  4. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

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