ILNews

Justices accept sex-offender registry cases

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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The Indiana Supreme Court is taking on three issues relating to sex-offender restrictions, from when juveniles can be placed on a statewide registry to whether someone can be placed on the list for life.

Justices granted transfer in the past week for three criminal cases relating specifically to sex offenders and when people convicted of those crimes must have their names put on the online-accessible public registry.

In J.C.C. v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0403-JV-266, the court is taking on a case that asks whether a Marion Superior magistrate erred in 2000 when ordering a 14-year-old boy who'd forced younger boys into various sexual acts to be placed on the state's sex-offender registry. Magistrate Christopher Piazza had determined enough evidence existed to prove that the juvenile would re-offend - a standard established in caselaw exploring differences in the adult criminal justice and juvenile delinquency systems. The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the trial court's decision in a Not for Publication ruling Dec. 28, 2007, also affirming that the juvenile court didn't abuse its discretion when denying a motion to set aside the adjudications.

A second case, Richard P. Wallace v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0706-CR-498, involves an issue being argued in various state courts relating to other sex-offender restrictions. Wallace is appealing a January decision from the appellate court on his failure to register as a sex offender, which he argues is unconstitutional because it's an ex post facto law and the state had forfeited the prosecutorial right because of a plea agreement. Wallace pleaded guilty to child molesting in February 1989, and was ordered to a five-year suspended sentence with probation. Years later, Wallace argued his agreement hadn't stipulated he register as a sex offender because the state statute changes that would have required him to do so weren't passed until 2001. The appeals court panel dismissed his ex post facto claims and affirmed the decision by Marion Superior Judge Lisa Borges.

In Todd L. Jensen v. State of Indiana, No. 02A04-0706-CR-351, justices will consider whether Allen Superior Judge Frances Gull correctly ordered a man classified as a sexually violent predator to register on the statewide list for life. Jensen pleaded guilty in 2000 to child molesting and vicarious sexual gratification, was sentenced to prison, and formally released from probation in July 2004. He annually registered for the Indiana Sex Offender Registry, as he was required to do for 10 years, but was informed in September 2006 that he'd have to register for life as a sexually violent predator. The trial judge considered his registration status and determined he'd have to register, but the Court of Appeals in December 2007 reversed on grounds it violated the ex post facto considerations and ordered on remand Jensen abide by the 10-year registration requirement.

Judge Cale Bradford disagreed with the majority panel of Senior Judge Jonathan Robertson and Judge John Sharpnack, writing a dissent that noted he didn't believe any violation existed and he would have affirmed the trial court decision.

He wrote, "Given the public interest in certain informational filings, it is my opinion that requiring a sexually violent predator to maintain his current address in the registry, even for a lifetime, does not rise to the level of being so punitive as to overcome its non-punitive legislative intent, that is, to monitor the whereabouts of a violent sexual predator, the necessity of which does not diminish over time."
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  3. 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.

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