The Indiana Court of Appeals says a ruling by the state justices last year can’t be used to stop juvenile courts from
ordering juveniles to register as sex offenders.
In a five-page decision today in C.E.K., II, v. State of Indiana, No. 28A05-1002-JV-100, a three-judge panel affirmed a decision
by Greene Circuit Judge Erik C. Allen in a juvenile sex offender case. The juvenile known as C.E.K. was 14 years old when
he committed two child molesting acts that would have been Class B and C felonies if committed by an adult. The judge found
him to be delinquent and put him on supervised probation until the age of 18, and the state later asked that C.E.K. be placed
on the state’s sex offender registry. Judge Allen found him to be “a high risk to re-offend” and ordered
that registration, but C.E.K. appealed.
On appeal, C.E.K. argued that the Indiana Supreme Court decision last year in Wallace v. State, 905 N.E. 2d 371
(Ind. 2009), applied to him as a juvenile and didn’t allow for his placement on the sex offender registry. In Wallace,
the justices held the registration statute as applied to that defendant was unconstitutional because it constituted retroactive
punishment forbidden by the Ex Post Facto Clause of the Indiana Constitution. C.E.K. seized that analysis and argued the juvenile
court lacked the subject matter jurisdiction to apply it.
Not the case, according to the intermediate appellate court.
“C.E.K reads too much into Wallace,” Judge Edward Najam wrote for the panel. “The court did not
hold that the Act is facially unconstitutional, and C.E.K. does not (and cannot) raise an ex post facto challenge to the juvenile
court’s order that he comply with the Act. Further, in a companion case to Wallace, the court held that the
Act was ‘non-punitive when applied to’ another defendant. Thus, while the Supreme Court recognized that the Act
had punitive elements that forbade its retroactive application under Indiana’s Ex Post Facto Clause, the court did not
hold that the Act is a wholly punitive measure that would violate the juvenile court’s rehabilitative policies.”
With that, the appellate court relied on its decade-old holding in K.J.P. v. State, 724 N.E.2d 612, 615 (Ind. Ct.
App. 2000), which had rejected another juvenile’s claim that requiring juveniles to register as sex offenders conflicted
with the rehabilitative purposes of the state’s juvenile code.