Thursday, November 14, 2013


Justice scales
Original Article

Doe entered an Alford plea to the charge of sexual abuse in the first degree in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County on October 13, 1992. Doe was ordered to serve five years' probation with counseling, and was given a suspended imposition of sentence ("SIS").

Following his guilty plea, Doe allegedly completed his counseling in March 1995, and was released from probation in March 1996 (nineteen months early). Upon the passage of Missouri's Sex Offender Registration Act ("SORA"), §§ 589.400 to 589.425,3 in 1995, Doe registered as a sex offender. In 2006, however, the Missouri Supreme Court held that, under article I, § 13 of the Missouri Constitution, SORA could not constitutionally be applied to offenders convicted before the state statute's effective date. Doe v. Phillips, 194 S.W.3d 833, 852 (Mo. banc 2006). The Supreme Court has recognized, however, that the federal SORNA, enacted in 2006, independently mandates sex-offender registration for individuals convicted of sex offenses prior to SORNA's effective date, and that the federal statute is not subject to the Missouri Constitution's prohibition on retrospective laws. Doe v. Keathley, 290 S.W.3d 719, 720 (Mo. banc 2009). See also Droney v. Fitch, No. 4:10-CV-114 CAS, 2011 WL 890704, at *3-*4 (E.D.Mo. March 14, 2011).

Doe filed a petition seeking declaratory and mandamus relief in the Circuit Court of Cole County on November 22, 2006, seeking to be free of SORA's registration requirements. Although Keathley conceded that Doe did not need to register under SORA in light of the Doe v. Phillips decision, he nevertheless filed a motion for summary judgment on the basis that Doe had an independent obligation to register under SORNA. The circuit court initially ruled for Keathley, concluding that, "[u]nder federal law, a suspended imposition of sentence is considered a conviction." After further briefing, however, the trial court reversed course, finding that "[u]nder Missouri law, a suspended imposition of sentence is not a conviction. . . . [A] suspended imposition of sentence will not satisfy a federal statute that requires a conviction to trigger its application." Keathley appeals.

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