Archive for January 24, 2009

Judge Throws Out Sex Offender Residency Restrictions

January 24, 2009 Comments off (NY) : State judge throws out Rockland’s housing law for sex offenders.

A state Supreme Court judge sitting in Rockland today invalidated Rockland’s law restricting where sex offenders can live. Justice William Kelly, in an eight-page decision, found that state has specifically taken the responsibility for sex offenders.

Kelly also wrote the state law specifically empowers local probation officers to decide where sex offenders can live without any borders. He also cited a similar decision banning residency boundaries in New Jersey by a judge in the Garden State.

Kelly nullified Rockland’s 2007 law. As the first decision on the pre-emption issue, Kelly’s ruling becomes precedent and could nullify 80 similar laws across the state that establish some boundaries in which sex offenders cannot live.

In Rockland, for example, sex offenders were prohibited from living, working, and loitering within 1,000 feet of schools, day care centers, libraries or any facilities. Kelly’s decision would dismiss misdemeanor charges against up to 13 sex offenders living in prohibited areas.

Oberlander’s lawyer, David Goldstein, raised the legal arguments. He said the 1,000 feet or any boundary is arbitrary and meaningless as far as protecting the public.

“The state law of letting probation officers use their discretion is more effective,” Goldstein said. “The county law was an over-reaction with a nebulous 1,000-foot magical line.”

He said Kelly’s decision on the pre-emption issue has implications statewide and could overrule other residency laws.

Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act

January 24, 2009 Comments off

Why the Federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act Raises New Constitutional Questions.
Corey Rayburn Yung, John Marshall Law School, Chicago
Harvard Journal on Legislation, Vol. 46, 2009

In 2003, the United States Supreme Court issued its only two opinions regarding the constitutionality of sex offender registration and notification statutes. The two opinions, Smith v. Doe (“Smith”) and Connecticut Department of Public Safety v. Doe (“DPS”), upheld the Alaska and Connecticut registry and notification laws against Ex Post Facto Clause and due process challenges. Three years later, the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”) was passed as part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. The federal statute was very different from the state statutes that the Court reviewed. Most notable among the differences was the creation of the federal crime of “failure to register” which was punishable by up to ten years imprisonment. Despite the significance of the disparities between the state and federal laws, district courts across the country have virtually rubber stamped the criminal provisions of SORNA as constitutional. The district courts’ reasoning has been almost entirely based upon superficial, mechanical applications of the Court’s decisions in Smith and DPS. This article contends that most district courts have been severely misguided in reading the two Court opinions and the statutory provisions of SORNA. Consequently, this article concludes that either Congress should amend SORNA or courts should strike down portions of SORNA on Ex Post Facto Clause, due process, and Commerce Clause grounds.

Keywords: Sex Offenders, Registration, Notification, SORNA, Adam Walsh Act, Ex Post Facto, Due Process, Commerce Clause

To view the complete document, click the “download” link at the top of the link.