Saturday, May 2, 2009

NE - Jury trial needed in sex-crime parole cases, high court rules

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By Leslie Reed - World-Herald News Service

Law requires lifetime supervision for offenders in rapes of children younger than 12 or under threat of serious violence.

LINCOLN - Accused rapists are entitled to a jury trial to determine whether they have committed a crime that warrants parole supervision for the rest of their lives, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The high court, in a unanimous opinion written by Judge Kenneth Stephan, ruled that the Nebraska Legislature increased the punishment for certain sex offenders when it passed a 2006 law requiring lifetime parole supervision for those convicted of raping a child younger than 12 or of raping someone under threat of serious violence.

That means a judge cannot require lifetime parole supervision unless a jury has found the accused guilty of an aggravated offense.

The Supreme Court nonetheless upheld the first-degree sexual assault conviction of _____, 24, in the 2007 sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl. Judge Steven Burns sentenced _____ to 18 to 25 years in prison and ruled that he had committed an aggravated offense calling for lifetime parole supervision.

Although _____'s jury had not found specifically that the crime involved the "threat of serious violence,'' witnesses said the girl was raped at knife point.

"On this record, any rational jury which convicted _____ of the sexual assault would have also concluded that it was committed through the use of force or the threat of serious violence,'' Stephan wrote in concluding that a new trial was unnecessary.

Today's decision contrasts with a 2004 ruling by the court that lifetime sex offender registration is a civil regulation designed to protect the public, not a punishment. Registration requires those convicted of certain sexual offenses to report their place of residence to their county sheriff. The Supreme Court has said the registration law is intended to help prevent recidivism and to help law enforcement solve future sex crimes.
- It's punishment, I don't care what these idiots say.  You live with the "civil regulations" for many years, then tell me it's not punishment!

Lifetime parole supervision, however, requires more constitutional safeguards than lifetime sex offender registration, the high court determined.

Those under parole supervision not only must regularly report to a parole officer, they also can be restricted on where they live and work and on their choices of friends and leisure activities. They can be required to submit to medical or psychiatric treatment and be forced to take drug or alcohol tests or a lie detector examination.

LA - Jindal's sex offender ideas scaled back after blunt questions from House speaker

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BATON ROUGE (AP) - Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (Contact) has scaled back plans for toughening sex offender laws.

House Speaker Jim Tucker and another lawmaker sent Jindal an unusually blunt letter questioning whether the proposals were constitutional and how they would be paid for in a tight budget year.

Tucker is a Jindal ally on most issues. Representative Ernets Wooton is chairman of the House Criminal Justice Committee.

The letter amounts to a long list of problems in Jindal's plans to crack down on sex offenders - a topic that has remained a favorite of Jindal's since his 2007 election campaign. It was written in February. The Associated Press obtained a copy.

Wooton said his committe staff poured over the proposals and found problems with their purpose, costs and constitutionality.

In January, Jindal's office said the governor wanted to ban "sex offenders from being around children, period." Tucker and Wooton's letter questioned how the state could entirely ban convicts from being in the presence of minors, in such places as jobs.

Jindal is now backing nine sex offender bills. Nne of them prohibits sex offenders from being in the presence of children. Instead, the governor is backing a measure that strengthens already strict laws regarding convicted sex offenders working in public schools.

A Jindal spokesman characterized the Tucker-Wooton letter as part of the back & forth process of developing legislation.

GA - Governor signs bill prohbiting sex offenders on school boards

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A Georgia legislative bill designed to keep convicted sex offenders off school boards was was signed into law on April 30 by Governor Sonny Perdue (Contact).

SB 14, co-sponsored by state Senator John Douglas (R-Social Circle), will become effective July 1.

"I am delighted Governor Perdue has signed our bill to prevent those on the state or national sex offender registry from seeking or holding a position on a local board of education," Douglas said. "Representatives Doug Holt and John Lunsford joined me in working for passage of the bill and now we can assure the people of Newton County and the other 179 Georgia school systems that this is a problem that will not surface again."

Douglas previously said he was spurred by a 2008 incident where a convicted sex offender, _____, attempted to run for a school board seat in Newton County.

_____ recently entered a not guilty plea to charges of felony count of false swearing and one felony count of false statement. The charges stem from a question on qualifying paperwork he filed to run for a seat on the Newton County Board of Education last year. On it, he indicated he did not have a previous felony conviction of "moral turpitude." In fact, _____ had been convicted of felony sodomy in DeKalb County in 1988 and served just under 10 months of a one-year sentence at Rivers State Prison before being released on May 14, 1989. In addition to one year in prison, _____ was also ordered to serve 11 years on probation, making him ineligible to seek office until 2010.

_____ chose to continue to seek office even after his past convictions came to light. He withdrew his candidacy by letter moments before a special hearing in from of the Board of Elections to decide his eligibility.

IN - Rulings affect sex offender state registry

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By Rebecca S. Green

Court decision might remove names

A pair of rulings by the Indiana Supreme Court might bring dramatic changes to who is listed on Indiana’s Sex and Violent Offender Registry.

One ruling deals with sex offenders who committed their crimes and were sentenced before the state’s sex offender registry laws existed. The other ruling, involving an Allen County case, deals with whether sex offenders’ listings on the registry are subject to further changes to the registry.

There are 753 people on Allen County’s sex and violent offender registry.

In the first ruling, the state’s highest court overturned _____’s 2000 conviction for failing to register as a sex offender.

_____ was convicted of Class C felony child molesting in 1989, five years before Indiana passed its version of the Sex Offender Registration Act, known as Zachary’s Law.

In 2001, the state legislature amended the law to include all people convicted of certain sex offenses regardless of their conviction date. And in 2003, _____’s ex-wife told authorities that _____ never registered as a sex offender.

_____ was convicted, but he appealed, arguing in part that the changes to the registry violated the state’s Constitution by creating an “after the fact” punishment.

And the state’s high court agreed.

_____ was charged, convicted and served the sentence for his crime before the statutes collectively referred to as the Indiana Sex Offender Registration Act were enacted,” Justice Robert D. Rucker wrote.

The changes to the act violated the state’s Constitution by imposing burdens on _____ that added punishment beyond what could have been imposed when his crime was committed, Rucker wrote.

In the second case, the court upheld a ruling by Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull involving Allen County resident _____.

Gull had ruled that _____ must register for life as a sexually violent predator even though the provision in the law that created that designation did not exist when he was convicted.

_____ qualified as a “sexually violent predator” because of his conviction for vicarious sexual gratification, one of the crimes included under the designation by the state legislature in a 2006 change to the registry law.
- So in some cases it's unconstitutional, and it other cases it's not.  Seems like they want their cake and eat it too.

He objected to the requirement and asked Gull to consider his case. She ruled he was a sexually violent predator and as such was subject to the changes in the registry. The 2006 changes contained no limitation on the date of conviction, according to court documents.

_____ appealed, using in part arguments similar to the ones _____ used, that the requirement created a punishment after the fact. In a split decision, the appellate court agreed and sent the case back to Gull to limit _____’s registration requirement to 10 years.

But in a 3-2 decision, the state Supreme Court upheld Gull’s ruling that _____ should have to register as a sexually violent predator for life.

Gull on Friday said she could not comment on either ruling because she doesn’t have a certified copy of them and there are matters that could be further appealed.

Looking ahead

For now, those tasked with monitoring the registry will wait to see what effect the rulings will have on how the registry is handled. But they are sure it will lead to some changes.

It’s going to create a lot of work in the next few weeks because we’ll have to go through each file and see what box these offenders are going to fit into,” said Allen County Cpl. Jeff Shimkus, who handles the registry for Allen County.

He will wait to see how the Indiana Department of Correction interprets the ruling and wants to put it into practice. Shimkus also expects a meeting with the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office.

As police officers, we’re the gatekeepers of the criminal justice system,” Shimkus said. “We enforce the law the way it’s written.

The Indiana Department of Correction will comply with the changes, but officials there are still trying to figure out what it all means.

We don’t know yet how many offenders this will affect,” said Doug Garrison, DOC spokesman. “If it means taking offenders off the registry, then that’s what we’ll do.

FL - Defense: Perverted Justice denies access to computer evidence

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What is Perverted-Justice hiding?

Well, if the man did not have a search warrant, then they do not have to allow them to search it. Get a search warrant, then they have to, or be taken to jail.



BUNNELL -- Charges against a former police officer snared in a Dateline NBC "To Catch a Predator" sex sting in Flagler Beach should be dropped, in part, because a vigilante group didn't allow its computer to be examined, according to a court document.

While Perverted Justice acted as an agent for police and "essentially conducted the entire investigation" leading to the arrest of 21 men, the vigilante group is not following rules that would apply to police and are meant to ensure fair trials, states a motion filed by an attorney for _____.

_____, 43, was fired from his job as a police officer in Florala, Ala., after his arrest during the December 2006 sting. _____ is charged with attempted lewd or lascivious battery, two counts of lewd or lascivious exhibition, and computer pornography and child exploitation.

_____' attorney, Ted Zentner, said he and defense attorneys for other defendants sent a forensic computer expert "pursuant to a court order" named Richard Connor to Kentucky to examine chat logs. But Perverted Justice denied Connor access to its computer server.

"Perverted Justice has continuously engaged in a pattern of conduct designed to thwart the defendant's rights to due process and a fair trial under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments," Zentner's motion argues.

In an e-mail response Friday, someone identified only as a Perverted Justice administrator rejected those claims.

"It's a baseless, desperate accusation by a defense attorney who knows his client is guilty. We have participated in hundreds upon hundreds of convictions across the country and have had our evidence examined by hundreds of defense attorneys."

Did the group deny Connor access to its computer?

"Nope" was the single-word response.

Prosecutors oppose Zentner's motion as well as similar ones by attorneys for other defendants and plan to respond accordingly, said Chris Kelly, spokesman for the State Attorney's Office.

Stetson University law professor Bruce Jacob doesn't think Zentner's motion will succeed in having the charges dismissed, but he does think Zentner has a point about the Perverted Justice computer.

"If it had been the police department and the defendant needed to get access to records or computer access to help prove his case, certainly he and his attorney would have to be allowed to do that," Jacob said. "If the computer might hold any information that could assist in the defense, it ought to be turned over to the defense."

Jacob said that, instead of dismissing the charges, it's more likely a judge would order Perverted Justice to allow access to its computer. If Perverted Justice continues to deny access, then the judge might dismiss the charges.

"We don't know what the computers show," Jacob said. "Certainly those computer records could have been doctored, parts of the conversation could have been left out."

_____ of DeFuniak Springs, which is near Florida's border with Alabama, was arrested after he tried to meet a decoy who was posing as a 13-year-old girl, police said. According to a police report, _____ planned to start a sexual relationship with the teen's mother so he could continue seeing the girl.

_____ drove to the decoy house but then drove away without getting out of his sport utility vehicle, police said. _____ was pulled over a few blocks away by Flagler Beach police. Police said they found handguns, an assault rifle and a shotgun -- all loaded -- in his SUV.

Investigators said they also found pornographic DVDs, condoms, an anchor and a rope, a floating fishing light, handcuffs, a bulletproof vest, two police scanners and video cameras and digital cameras.

HR-1966 - Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act


1st Session

H. R. 1966

To amend title 18, United States Code, with respect to cyberbullying.


April 2, 2009

Ms. LINDA T. SANCHEZ of California (for herself, Ms. KAPTUR, Mr. YARMUTH, Ms. ROYBAL-ALLARD, Mrs. CAPPS, Mr. BISHOP of New York, Mr. BRALEY of Iowa, Mr. GRIJALVA, Mr. HARE, Mr. HIGGINS, Mr. CLAY, Mr. SARBANES, Mr. DAVIS of Illinois, Mr. COURTNEY, and Mr. KIRK) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


To amend title 18, United States Code, with respect to cyberbullying.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

This Act may be cited as the `Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act'.

Congress finds the following:
  1. Four out of five of United States children aged 2 to 17 live in a home where either they or their parents access the Internet.
  2. Youth who create Internet content and use social networking sites are more likely to be targets of cyberbullying.
  3. Electronic communications provide anonymity to the perpetrator and the potential for widespread public distribution, potentially making them severely dangerous and cruel to youth.
  4. Online victimizations are associated with emotional distress and other psychological problems, including depression.
  5. Cyberbullying can cause psychological harm, including depression; negatively impact academic performance, safety, and the well-being of children in school; force children to change schools; and in some cases lead to extreme violent behavior, including murder and suicide.
  6. Sixty percent of mental health professionals who responded to the Survey of Internet Mental Health Issues report having treated at least one patient with a problematic Internet experience in the previous five years; 54 percent of these clients were 18 years of age or younger.

(a) In General- Chapter 41 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

Sec. 881. Cyberbullying

(a) Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person, using electronic means to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

(b) As used in this section--
(1) the term `communication' means the electronic transmission, between or among points specified by the user, of information of the user's choosing, without change in the form or content of the information as sent and received; and

(2) the term `electronic means' means any equipment dependent on electrical power to access an information service, including email, instant messaging, blogs, websites, telephones, and text messages.'.

(b) Clerical Amendment- The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 41 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new item:
`881. Cyberbullying.'.

WI - Locals get their panties in a wad over a sex offender moving into their parents home

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By Dan Benson of the Journal Sentinel

An uproar among residents over the presence of a registered sex offender in the Town of Port Washington has prompted local authorities to schedule a community forum to explain how the state's sex offender registration program works.

In early April, some neighbors of _____, who was convicted in 2003 of sexually assaulting two 15-year-old girls, distributed fliers in local parks that included a picture of _____ from the Department of Corrections.

The fliers invited people to a meeting at the Port Washington public library and listed the names and phone numbers of _____'s mother and her husband.
- Why list the persons mother and father's phone number?  That is asking for harassment, which apparently they did, see below.

Since the fliers have been distributed, _____'s mother, _____, said her family has received harassing phone calls and letters.

"We've been living in fear," she said Friday. "We got a crazy letter just the other day. We don't even want to answer the phone anymore."
- So report it.  If it's a terroristic threat, the person can be put into prison, where they belong.

_____, she said, is emotionally disabled.

"I'm fearful for him to leave our home. This has really gotten out of control," _____ said.
- Mob mentality, created by the media and ignorant politicians.  So what are the police doing about the harassment?  Probably nothing, but why?  Now they are harassing innocent people!

_____'s brother, _____, got into a scuffle with one of the people posting the fliers on April 9 and was issued a citation accusing him of disorderly conduct, according to Port Washington police (Email).
- You see, the brother gets a citation, while the vigilante mob squad has nothing done to them.  This needs to be taken to court, and the people involved, sued and put into prison.  If nothing is done, then they will continue, and more people will fall victim to these vigilantes.  And this is not a small issue, it's a LARGE ISSUEVisit the above police department web site, and send them an email about these threats, and demand something be done about the harassment.  If the man is living legally, then the police need to do their job, and stop the harassment, period.

The neighborhood group scheduled a meeting on April 15 at the library at which they hoped someone from the state Department of Corrections would speak.

But that meeting was canceled after Library Director David Nimmer learned that a threat had been leveled at one person attending the meeting, Nimmer said. No charges were filed.

Barbara Patterson, who moved into the area near _____ about a year ago and is one of those who helped put up the fliers, said she, too, has received harassing calls.

Patterson said she and the group of neighbors received an anonymous flier in their mailboxes in early April and that they made copies and posted them in the parks.

"We're talking about a group of mothers who are concerned about their children. Shouldn't we be?" she said. "I feel bad about participating in something that might be perceived" as being harassment. "I was under the belief that this was a new person in town."
- Sure you should be, but resulting to vigilantism, isn't the way to handle it.

The group asserted in the fliers that _____ had just moved into the area, though he lives with his mother and stepfather in the house he grew up in and which has been in his stepfather's family for three generations.

_____ was convicted in March 2003 in Washington County of two counts of second degree sexual assault of a child and one count of child enticement.

Nine additional felony counts were dismissed at the request of prosecutors, according to court records.

According to a criminal complaint and court testimony, two 15-year-old girls told police that _____ bought them alcohol and forced them to have sex with him at Regner Park in West Bend.

_____ said he thought the girls were 18 and that the sex was consensual.

He pleaded no contest to the three counts.

Sex offender forum
A forum explaining the state's sex offender registry program will held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. June 3 at the Grafton High School auditorium, 1950 Washington St., Grafton. (Map)

For more information on the forum, call Ozaukee County Sheriff's Capt. David Guss at (262) 238-8470.