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Judges reverse man's removal from sex offender list

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A trial court erred in ordering a man’s name removed from the state’s sex offender registry because the court didn’t provide notice to the appropriate parties or hold a hearing before doing so, ruled the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Mickey Shawn Gambler wrote a letter to Allen Superior Court in April 2010 to see if he could be removed from the Indiana Sex Offender Registry. Gambler was convicted of a sex offense in Ohio in 1995; the act occurred in 1994.

The trial court issued an order taking judicial notice of the letter and directed Gambler to serve the letter to all parties of record. The order, letter, and matter were forwarded to the appropriate Allen County court for a ruling. In May 2010, Allen Superior Judge Frances Gull ordered the Allen County Sheriff’s Department and Indiana Department of Correction to remove Gambler from the registry. Judge Gull ruled due to Wallace v. State, 905 N.E.2d 371 (Ind. 2009), Gambler isn’t required to register in Indiana based on the Ohio conviction.

The Court of Appeals reversed in In Re: State of Ohio Conviction Against Mickey Shawn Gambler, No. 02A04-1008-CR-509, because Gambler didn’t follow the required steps under state statute to have his named removed from the registry. A petition, or document purported to be a petition, must be submitted under the penalties of perjury, list each jurisdiction in which the offender has to register, and for each criminal conviction list the offense, court and date of judgment, and whether the offender pleaded guilty or was convicted by trial.

Gambler’s letter was insufficient to raise the issue of whether the trial court would remove him from the registry, so on the face of it, the trial court erred in ruling his letter provided sufficient information to proceed in this matter, wrote Chief Judge Margret Robb.

“Further, even if Gambler’s letter was sufficient to constitute a petition under this statute, the trial court must either summarily dismiss it or give notice to several government actors and set the matter for a hearing before proceeding,” she wrote. “Here, the record does not indicate the trial court provided notice to the necessary government actors or held a hearing on the matter. Therefore, on the face of the record, DOC has demonstrated prima facie error in granting Gambler’s petition.”

The judges ordered the trial court to dismiss the case without prejudice subject to further proceedings in the event Gambler files a sufficient petition.

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