The Indiana Court of Appeals has found the trial court should have granted summary judgment to a Department of Correction employee on a man’s claim that he was personally deprived a liberty interest when the DOC refused to remove his name from the sex offender registry.
In Brent Myers v. Jarod Coats, No. 49A04-1104-PL-208, Jarod Coats had tried unsuccessfully to have his name removed from Indiana’s sex offender registry. Coats pleaded guilty but mentally ill in 1999 to two counts of battery, one count of intimidation, and one count of criminal confinement. Although no children were involved in any of the charges and Coats has never been convicted of a sex offense, the DOC told him he had to register as a sex offender. The DOC maintains the registry; Brent Myers is the director of registration and victim services.
Coats kept his registration current, while disputing the requirement and unsuccessfully attempting to have his name removed from the list. After filing suit in federal court in 2009, Coats was removed from the registry and the case was dismissed. He then filed a complaint for declaratory relief and damages in state court against Myers under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, alleging Myers failed to provide Coats with a procedure to challenge his erroneous listing.
The trial court concluded that Coats had a liberty interest in not being mistakenly labeled as a sex offender and that the process to challenge the erroneous listening was inadequate, which the COA affirmed. The trial court found that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Myers personally deprived Coats of a constitutional right, which the judges reversed. Any policy Myers contributed to or produced was subject to input from supervisors and the DOC’s legal counsel, which undercuts Coats’ argument that Myers was the driving force behind the failure to provide a policy, ruled the COA. The judges entered summary judgment for Myers on this issue.