Archive for November 5, 2009

Ohio RSO’s : A Call to Action

November 5, 2009 Comments off

All Ohio Registered Sex Offenders must mail a letter to the Ohio Supreme Court this week, in response to the four cases being heard before the Court. For details about these cases see:

It is very important that we all send letters to each Justice by this weekend (Nov.8). This Court expressed concern about how these changed registration laws are affecting us. Justice Pfeifer said he wants “to know what matters in their lives” as it relates to registration requirements. They will use our letters to determine if this extended registration is legally “punishment”, or not (see our blogs for more information).

Guidelines: Follow these guidelines to be most effective.

*Be respectful and polite; address your comments to “the Court” and “Your Honor”.
*Do NOT tell your life story, or details of your case or situation. This tactic will not work. Be concise and direct. Limit your statements to the points listed below. Limit each point you make to just one sentence. Limit your letter to ONE page.

Points: Stick to your points; do not wander or ramble on about details.

*How does your extended registration affect your life? (Be concise and communicate each point in ONE sentence)

*How is your extended registration considered punishment in your life? eg. job, neighborhood, public shame, harassment, registration requirements, children, etc..(Be concise and communicate each point in ONE sentence)

If you have challenged your re-classification, mention how it is not reviewed by a Court, and if you were denied a public defender.

If you are involved with a Juvenile case, relate your letter to the Juvenile cases. (see link above)

Make 7 copies, sign each copy in pen with your address (at least; city). Mail 7 letters ($3 cost) to:

Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer/ Justice Paul E. Pfeifer/Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton/ Justice Maureen O’Connor/ Justice Terrence O’Donnell/ Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger/ Justice Robert R. Cupp
Supreme Court of Ohio
65 South Front Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215-3431

I cannot over-emphasize this point : BE CONCISE and DO NOT tell your life story or ramble about details of your case. I know it’s difficult to be unemotional about your own situation, but try to make each of your points in just one sentence each. Think like a lawyer. The Court will not consider your individual case, but needs to know how these extended registration laws are affecting those who must register for longer periods. If we do this properly, our letters may have a profound effect on the Court’s decisions in these cases- and could result in a ruling which forces repeal of these laws.


SAMPLE LETTER – use this as a guide, but use your OWN words.

Ohio Supreme Court Fight on Sex Offender Laws

November 5, 2009 Comments off (Columbus) : Lawyers fight law on sex offenders before Ohio Supreme Court.

Thousands of registered sex offenders would be subject to less-stringent reporting requirements if defense lawyers succeed in challenging parts of a 2007 state law intended to crack down on sexual criminals.
The attorneys told the Ohio Supreme Court yesterday that the get-tough law was applied illegally to more than 26,000 sex offenders who were sentenced before it took effect.

In addition, the lawyers said, the measure penalizes people who commit sex offenses before they turn 18 by requiring them to continue to register as sex offenders well into adulthood.

The state’s highest court heard four cases yesterday challenging Senate Bill 10, which created a new system for classifying sex offenders based more on the severity of the crime than the likelihood of committing future offenses.

More than half of the offenders were placed in the most-serious category — sexual predators — who are required to register every 90 days for life.

Jeffrey M. Gamso, a Toledo lawyer who argued one of the cases, said the law had more to do with securing federal funding under the Adam Walsh Act than protecting Ohioans.

“Is the sheriff really keeping tabs on all those people?” Gamso asked in an interview. “We know that some people will re-offend, and we want to be able to target those people. “You want to find the needle in the haystack, and what this does is build a bigger haystack.”

State Sen. Timothy J. Grendell, R-Chesterland, said “The timing was based on us being told we’d get an additional 10 percent (in Adam Walsh funding) if we did this by a certain time. We would not make public policy just to get money.”

The two adult cases:

• Three adult sex offenders from Huron County who were classified as sexual predators under the 2007 law say it’s unconstitutional to subject them to a “punitive” law that didn’t exist when they were sentenced.
Gamso, who represented the men, said lawmakers can’t step in and redo classifications for sex offenders that already were determined by judges.

• Roman Chojnacki, who was convicted of sex with a minor in Warren County in 2006, was reclassified from a low-risk sex offender under the old law to a medium-risk offender. His attorney, Jason A. Macke, argued that Chojnacki and others who were reclassified should have had access to lawyers during that process.

Lesson: ” Kennedy 7″ Criteria ( Punitive vs. Civil )

November 5, 2009 Comments off

In the Ohio Supreme Court Oral Argument videos below, you will hear reference to the “Kennedy 7” criteria. This legal reference is the accepted standard in determining whether a punishment labeled as civil is in reality criminal. The seven-factor test adopted by Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez, 372 U.S. 144, 168-69 (1963)asks 7 questions:

(1) whether the sanction involves an affirmative disability or restraint;
(2) whether it has historically been regarded as a punishment;
(3) whether it comes into play only on a finding of scienter*;
(4) whether its operation will promote the traditional aims of punishment — retribution and deterrence;
(5) whether the behavior to which it applies is already a crime;
(6) whether an alternative purpose to which it may rationally be connected is assignable for it; and
(7) whether it appears excessive in relation to the alternative purpose assigned.

*Scienter is a Latin term for “guilty knowledge.” Under all federal forfeiture statutes, some degree of guilty knowledge is required — this is inherent in the innocent owner defense.

This standard differentiates between “criminal” (punitive) and “civil” (remedial) statutes.