By James Minton
ST. FRANCISVILLE -- The attorney for a man fighting lifetime sex-offender registration said he is considering taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court after Louisiana’s high court ruled against his client this week.
“It’s going to have to go up if anybody’s going to get a break on this,” said Charles Griffin, of St. Francisville, the attorney for [name withheld].
“It’s going to take some guys up in Washington who have a little more insight into due process,” Griffin added.
|Scarlet Letter on Drivers License|
Driver’s licenses for sex offenders must be renewed annually.
[name withheld] was accused of having sex, when he was 19, with a girl under the age of 17 in the back of a truck while a friend drove them from East Baton Rouge Parish to East Feliciana Parish.
In 1995, [name withheld] pleaded no contest in East Feliciana Parish to indecent behavior with a juvenile and guilty in East Baton Rouge Parish to carnal knowledge of a juvenile. He was sentenced to two concurrent three-year prison terms.
At the time, [name withheld] was required to register as a sex offender for 10 years after his release from prison.
Griffin said [name withheld] served his sentence for the 1995 convictions, completed his probation and complied with post-release registration requirements for a 10-year period after he was released from prison.
But Louisiana authorities told [name withheld] in 2009 that he would have to register again as a sex offender for the rest of his life because the law had changed after he was convicted, court rulings
- And that is unconstitutional ex post facto punishment and a violation of the contracts clause of the constitution.
A three-judge appellate panel overturned a District Court ruling against [name withheld], saying in 2010 that case records show that [name withheld] fulfilled his duty to register as a sex offender for the period of time that was applicable when he was convicted.
The lower court opinion says Louisiana’s version of “Megan’s Law” has a legitimate civil purpose to alert and protect the public from sex offenders who might offend again, but the amendments adopted after his conviction are “so punitive in effect as to transform what was intended as a civil remedy into an additional punishment for him.”
The retroactive application of amendments to the law violates the U.S. and Louisiana constitutions, the appellate judges said.
The Supreme Court ruled, however, that [name withheld] is a “multiple sexual offender” because of the two convictions, and the 1999 amendment requiring lifetime registration therefore applies to him.
- It still a violation of the constitution, period!
The high court also said the retroactive clauses of the U.S. and state constitutions do not apply in [name withheld]’s case because the lifetime obligation was added to the law during the time [name withheld] was required to register.
- Yeah right, bend and twist the laws/constitution to suit your own needs, that is politics for you.
A spokeswoman for state Attorney General James “Buddy” Caldwell said the 1st Circuit’s opinion created “irreconcilable conflict” within the statutory provisions of the sex offender registry.
“Had the 1st Circuit’s ruling stood, many multiple and aggravated sex offenders would have been removed from the registry’s rolls,” Caldwell spokeswoman Laura Gerdes said in an email. “Our office asked the Supreme Court to correct the 1st Circuit’s interpretation, and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. Ultimately, the Supreme Court rendered the correct decision.”
- I disagree! It doesn't matter if they are or aren't dangerous, the constitution forbids what you are doing, and your oath of office to defend this document.
Griffin said the opinion would affect other cases with the same or similar issues.
“What really bothers me is that their argument was that the 1999 amendment applied to him. All the amendment did was add that you could have life (sex offender status) and set the criteria as a multiple offender. I don’t see how you can automatically say you get that without a hearing,” Griffin said, noting the two convictions stemmed from the same incident.