Archive for April 3, 2010

30 Yr Computer Ban for Sex Offender Overturned

April 3, 2010 Comments off 30-Year Computer Ban for Sex Offender Overturned.

A federal appeals court Friday overturned a 30-year computer ban imposed on a sex offender caught in an online police sting.

Mark xxxx, 50, was arrested in 2006 after traveling from his home in Columbia, Maryland to a location in Washington D.C. where he expected to meet a 13-year-old girl he’d sexually solicited in a chat room. The “girl” was actually an undercover cop, and Russell was ultimately sentenced to 46 months in prison and ordered not to “possess or use a computer for any reason” before the year 2039.

That inflexible ban on computer use is “substantively unreasonable” and “aggressively interferes with the goal of rehabilitation,” ruled the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

It’s the latest decision on an issue that has some, but not all, courts moving toward accepting the internet as a basic freedom that even convicts should not be permanently denied. In January, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia overturned a lifetime internet ban against a child porn offender, calling such bans “draconian” in terms of employment opportunities and “freedoms of speech and association.” But a few months earlier, the first unconditional lifetime internet ban to be appealed was upheld by the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Before his arrest, Mark had worked as an applied systems engineer at Johns Hopkins University for 10 years. “It is hard to imagine white collar work in 2010 not requiring access to computers, just as white collar work 100 years ago would almost invariably have required the use of pens and pencils,” wrote Judge Stephen Williams for the three-member panel.

Upon release, Mark’s computer ban prevented him from applying for a job at a McDonalds, which required computer use for filling out the application, and barred him from other low-tech employment opportunities, including keeping inventory at a pet supply store, according to the ruling.

Prosecutors agreed with Mark’s lawyer that the blanket computer ban was unreasonable. Friday’s decision sends the case back for re-sentencing, where, at a minimum, Mark’s probation officer has to be given discretion to modify the computer ban, the court ruled.

Notice: Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Died

April 3, 2010 Comments off

Notice: Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Died Suddenly Today.

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer passed away suddenly on April 2, 2010 at age 70. This comes during a time when the state and nation awake a critical decision on the constitutionality of Ohio Senate Bill 10 (Adam Walsh Act).

These four consolidated cases challenge several constitutional violations of the law, which we have written about extensively on these blogs. He was to retire and surrender his seat after this year and the May 4, 2010 election will replace his position on the Court. What this means to the fate of the ruling on these challenges remains to be seen. Ohio’s Governor Strickland (D) will appoint an interim replacement to hold the seat until Jan 2011 when a new Justice will take office. It is unknown whether the rulings on these cases have been made, and just not yet announced, or not.

See related posts:
When Will Ohio Supreme Court Rule on AWA?
Ohio Supreme Court Oral Arguments