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Justices take 2 sex offender registry appeals

September 8, 2015

The Indiana Supreme Court took two appeals last week challenging the application of the state’s Sex Offender Registry Act. The cases are among five transfers granted for the week ending Sept. 4.

The challenges to SORA present similar issues: whether people convicted of sex crimes in other states before Indiana’s act was amended must register as a sex offender when they moved to Indiana.

A divided Court of Appeals panel reversed a trial court order removing a man’s name from the registry in State of Indiana v. Scott Zerbe, 49A05-1410-MI-463. Zerbe was convicted in 1992 of sex acts with a 14-year-old in Michigan, where upon his release from prison in 1999 he was required to register as a sex offender for 25 years. Indiana’s law was amended in 2001 to state that any person required to register elsewhere as a sex offender must register in Indiana.

The COA majority in Zerbe held that he had fair warning of SORA’s registration requirement before he moved to Indiana in 2012 and the statute placed no additional punishment on him.

In the other SORA case, Sidney Lamour Tyson v. State of Indiana, 45A03-1405-CR-143, the court will her an appeal of a trial court denial of Tyson’s motion to dismiss a Class D felony charge of failure to register as a sex offender based on a requirement that he register as an offender for a 2001 assault in Texas while Tyson was a juvenile. The Court of Appeals affirmed in a memorandum opinion.

Justices also granted transfer in these cases:

Justices denied transfer petitions in 15 cases last week. Supreme Court transfer dispositions may be viewed here.

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