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SCOTUS accepts Indiana offender-registry case

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The nation's highest court has taken an Indiana case that asks whether someone can be criminally prosecuted under a federal sex-offense registry law if that defendant's underlying offense and move to another state predated the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act's passage.

At its daylong opening conference Tuesday, the Supreme Court of the United States granted certiorari in Thomas Carr v. United States, No. 08-1301, a case from the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division, that the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled on late last year.

The certiorari petition was filed April 22, 2009, with the government's opposition brief filed in August. The petitioner's reply brief is here.

The Carr case was the first its kind in the Circuit. It's now one of 10 cases the justices accepted, including two others from the 7th Circuit - one asks whether the Second Amendment is incorporated into constitutional clauses in order to be applicable to the states, thereby invalidating home handgun possession ordinances; the other case asks whether someone must file a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after the employer's use of the discriminatory practice or awareness of the practice.

In the Carr case, justices will delve into an issue that's been surfacing more nationally and has brought disagreement from state and federal courts. The 7th Circuit issued its ruling in December 2008, combining it with the related case of U.S. v. Marcus Dixon, No. 08-1438. Judges found that a reasonable grace period is required before the federal government can enhance a convicted sex offender's punishment for not registering after a move to a new state and that time frame falls somewhere between zero days and five months.

The judges dismissed claims that federal law was unconstitutional on several fronts and instead focused mostly on the notice received from the federal government before a criminal failure to register with state authorities is enhanced to a federal crime. Overall, the court determined the law isn't unconstitutional and any convicted sex offender must register even if they came to the state prior to the federal law's passage.

But in its certiorari petition, attorneys argue that the requirement violates the Ex Post Facto Clause of the U.S. Constitution and that failure to register under the federal law is not a continuing offense under the clause.

Fort Wayne attorney Stanley Campbell with law firm Swanson & Campbell is one of Carr's lawyers, joining a cast of defense and federal prosecuting attorneys from Washington, D.C., and other jurisdictions.

The high court hasn't yet set a date for arguments in this case.

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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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