Thursday, November 14, 2013


Justice scales
Original Article

This matter is before the Court on the latest challenge to the Michigan Sex Offenders Registration Act, MCLA § 28.721 et seq, ("SORA"). Plaintiff, an individual convicted of an offense that requires registration as a "sexual offender" pursuant to the SORA, argues that the statute violates constitutionally protected procedural due process.

Defendants are the Michigan State Police, the government entity charged with maintaining the registry, and Colonel Michael D. Robinson (the "Director"), in his official capacity as Director of the department. Defendants contend that Plaintiff's liberty interests are not implicated by the required registration and the public dissemination of registry information; therefore, no procedural due process safeguards are mandated. Further, Defendants assert that the issues raised by Plaintiff have all been considered and decided by other courts in this district and circuit, or that the outcome can reasonably be predicted against him based on these prior rulings.

While these prior decisions have upheld the notification provisions of the SORA against due process challenges, none addressed the specific argument made by Plaintiff here: namely, that the reputation damage resulting from registration as a sex offender, coupled with the ongoing legal obligations of registration and the attendant criminal penalties for failure to fulfill the obligations of registration, alter the registrant's legal status, and, therefore, the "stigma plus" test is met and his right to be free from government defamation entitles him to the procedural safeguards under the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Court finds that the Plaintiff has sufficiently demonstrated a liberty interest recognized by the United States Constitution which is deserving of minimal due process protection, because of the damage to reputation as a labeled sex offender, coupled with the burden and duty of continuing registration obligations over a course of years. Because the SORA does not provide notice to registrants or an opportunity to be heard, it is struck down as an unconstitutional denial of due process afforded under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

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