Alabama case now before 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

By Cameron Kiszla . . . A lawsuit before a federal appeals court may have broad implications for Alabama’s sex offender laws, which some critics claim are the harshest in the United States.

Montgomery resident Michael McGuire is suing the state of Alabama for relief from the residency restrictions, travel limits, sex offender registration and other punishments that accompany a conviction of a sexual offense. The case is before the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

McGuire was convicted of sexual assault in Colorado more than 30 years ago, before many of the modern punishments around sexual crimes were enacted into law, and his argument hinges on constitutional protections against punishments created after a crime is committed.

After serving three years in prison and another on parole, he was released in 1989. He did not find himself in trouble with the law again until 2010, when he moved back to his native Montgomery to be closer to his mother and family.

Upon returning to Alabama, McGuire went to a Montgomery police station to confirm if, as a convicted felon, he was in breach of any state laws. It was at the station he learned he had to register as a sex offender.

He couldn’t live with his wife, mother or brother in Montgomery, because the state required him to stay away from kids, schools and daycares. Soon he was jobless and living under a bridge, with “Criminal Sex Offender” stamped in red letters on his driver’s license.

“He feels like he’s in prison again, a prison without bars,”  said Phil Telfeyan, McGuire’s lawyer. “He is restricted where he can live, where he can take jobs. It’s like being a permanent prisoner.”

Alabama’s sex offender laws are among the most stringent in the nation. Home to more than 11,000 registered sex offenders, Alabama is among four states that put sex offenders on a mandatory registry for life and the only state that puts the sex offender stamp on a driver’s license.

And while there’s little sign the state’s voters want to ease up on those restrictions, policymakers in other states are beginning to question whether their registries are doing what they’re intended to do: make the public safer.

“Very few people on the registry are going to commit another offense, and it has nothing to do with the public knowing where they are,” says Sandy Rozek, communications director for National Association for Rational Sex Offense Laws….

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    • #15077 Reply
      Sandy Rozek
      Sandy Rozek

      Best of luck to this case. Mr Telfeyan spoke at our conference this year, and he is a fighter!

    • #15124 Reply

      This is the type of case I have been waiting for, as this can very well replicate the Snyder case from the 6th circuit. A ruling here will be binding precedence for Florida (where I’m from, live and caught my case) since the 11th circuit pertains to that state. The good thing is that the 11th circuit already referenced Snyder and some other cases from its sister courts in their reversal of a dismissal made by a FL district court in regards to residency restrictions in Doe v. Miami Dade earlier this year. The McGuire case here is an important one for RCs in Fl, AL, and GA to be watching closely. I’m excited and confident, but a bit nervous as well.

      • #15424 Reply

        Indeed, I’m in Georgia and will be following this case real close. Thank goodness this opportunity landed in our side of the woods. Hoping for the best.

    • #15492 Reply

      The lawyer has a pretty impressive resume. This is a pretty strong case in favor of us. It should be a slum dunk considering the circumstances already commented above, but even so, it would still make me on edge as well. I guess all of the recent outcomes in our favor seem to good to be true. I’m so glad the tides are turning in our favor for once. Full steam ahead!!!

    • #16925 Reply
      Gary Woodroffe

      I am currently in the 11th ckt also, a resident of Florida. My story is similar, out of state, retroactive, Stigma-plus big time. I am about to embark on seeking a Declatory judgment. Any cooperation or collaboration would be of interest.

      • #18025 Reply


        We have cited Witta v. State. We cite the 6th District in our motion as well as PA S.C. ruling. We cite floriduh cases where plea agreements are considered contracts. We also argue Padilla. floriduh has said it would not retroactively apply Padilla, as it has “relied heavily for 22 years” on pre-existing legislation that adequately warned of the potential for deportation. They don’t dispute SCOTUS ruling in favor of Padilla; they simply say adequate warnings were in place during the time leading up to Padilla ruling. We raise the question, what warning did floriduh rely on for 22 years in warning of the civil SO consequences? Still waiting on Judge’s ruling.

        Hope this helps you.

    • #17160 Reply
      Jeff T.

      The original article is incorrect about Alabama being the only state to mark drivers licenses with SO on them. Oklahoma has been doing it for 9 or 10 years now and I believe Kansas does it as well…probably a few others.

      • #17175 Reply

        Yup, about 5 or 6 states do so that I can think of…. Florida puts the words sexual predator on driver licenses for those designated as sexual predators and puts a numerical statute code on those designated sexual offenders.

        • #18067 Reply
          GA Reform

          Here is the link to the Louisiana statute about driver’s licenses

          (I)(1) The Louisiana driver’s license, regardless of its class, issued to any person who is required to register as a sex offender pursuant to R.S. 15:542 and R.S. 15:542.1 shall contain a restriction code which declares that the license holder is a sex offender. The secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections shall comply with the provisions of this Subsection and the driver’s license shall include the words “sex offender” which shall be orange in color.

          (2) Any person to whom this Subsection applies shall carry upon his person the last driver’s license issued to him.

          (3) The department shall issue a license required pursuant to this Subsection for a period of one year. When the department issues a license pursuant to this Subsection the license shall be valid for a period of one year from the date of issuance.

          (4) Any person to whom this Subsection applies shall personally appear at a motor vehicle field office to renew his driver’s license every year, in addition to the yearly reregistration pursuant to R.S. 15:542 et seq. Reregistration shall include the submission of current information to the department and the verification of registration information, including the street address and telephone number of the registrant; name, street address and telephone number of the registrant’s employer, and any other registration information that may need to be verified. Upon successful completion of reregistration, the bureau shall electronically transmit this fact to the office of motor vehicles which may then proceed to renew the driver’s license. In order to reimburse the office of motor vehicles for the cost of a yearly issuance, the regular renewal fee shall be collected at each renewal pursuant to this Subsection.

          (5) The provisions of this Subsection shall apply to all registered sex offenders regardless of the date of conviction.

          They also require them to have a special ID card-
          J.(1) Any person required to register as a sex offender with the Louisiana Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information, as required by R.S. 15:542 et seq., shall obtain a special identification card issued by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections which shall contain a restriction code declaring that the holder is a sex offender. This special identification card shall include the words “sex offender” in all capital letters which are orange in color and shall be valid for a period of one year from the date of issuance. This special identification card shall be carried on the person at all times by the individual required to register as a sex offender.

          (2) Each person required to carry a special identification card pursuant to this Subsection shall personally appear, annually, at a field office of the office of motor vehicles to renew his or her special identification card but only after he or she has registered as an offender pursuant to R.S. 15:542 et seq. Reregistration shall include the submission of current information to the department and the verification of this information, which shall include the street address and telephone number of the registrant; the name, street address and telephone number of the registrant’s employer, and any registration information that may need to be verified by the bureau. No special identification card shall be issued or renewed until the office of motor vehicles receives confirmation from the bureau, electronically or by other means, that the reregistration of the sex offender has been completed.

          (3) The provisions of this Subsection shall apply to all sex offenders required to register pursuant to R.S. 15:542 et seq., regardless of the date of conviction.

          (4) Whoever violates this Subsection shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars and not more than five hundred dollars, or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.

    • #17700 Reply

      I am also in the 11th…floriduh to be exact. 1992 plead deal; still paying long beyond the plea. Any idea as to when the 11th Circuit will rule on this case? Be nice to see the State and U.S. Constitutions adhered to by those who swore to uphold them. Good luck to all.

      • #17872 Reply

        I can’t find anything on the dockets of the 11th circuit of when this case will be heard.

        • #17995 Reply

          Thanks Alex. I couldn’t either. Hopefully soon.

          • #18047 Reply

            No problem. I’m actually checking from time to time the oral arguments calendar on the 11th circuit’s web page. Nothing scheduled for August thus far pertaining to the Mcguire case. Will check the September and October schedules once they have posted them on their site. Hopefully soon indeed.

          • #21140 Reply

            Let us know, please, if you find something. Thanks.

    • #18084 Reply

      I live in Alabama but I’m not very optimistic about the 11th circuit doing us any good. An earlier post mentioned the plea agreement contract idea. My conviction would fall under an Al Appeals Court decision, Tennyson v Al. I have been trying to research if a Rule 32 petition would require me to recant my guilty plea and thus violate my plea agreement and subject me to a dropped charge being reinstated. I have completed my probation and thus paid my debt.

    • #19482 Reply

      Does ANYONE know a Lawyer that isn’t afraid of having drugs planted on themselves and is willing to stand up to a SERIOUSLY corrupt county judicial system in Alabama????…….
      PLEASE let me know.

    • #19481 Reply

      Good Luck with any relief from the State of Alabama…. the entire state is (in my opinion – CORRUPT).. finding a honest lawyer isn’t possible where I live… you cannot bring one in from another county.. they will get NO WHERE….except a scare and warning not to return…
      Until the people in the judicial system die out and there are no more lemmings left to replace them.. the entire judicial system will forever be corrupt.. (it is NOT limited to sex offenders either–works against anyone that has drank one beer and drove, or gets caught with one joint,.. they become instant depraved criminals that are dangerous and pose a threat to the rest of the world) and they get shafted through the courts without an HONEST lawyer..they are found guilty, even if its a plea deal..they get UNJUSTLY SCREWED….this is AFTER their face is posted on EVERY news channel, website, newspaper, flyer, etc..etc for at least a week.. forget getting another job…or ever having friends.. you are a pariah…SIMPLY TO GET RE-ELECTED and further their corrupt state…(Allegedly- even the ABI/FBI can’t/won’t touch them!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

    • #20385 Reply

      I agree J.D.B. They are all in cahoots. The rule 32 petition would have to be granted since the decision came from Appeals court but my worry is does that breach my plea agreement. I’ve been trying to research it but not made much headway.

    • #21134 Reply

      I was unable to locate the status of this case at the 11 circuit website.

      Can someone provide the status on this case. Has the court heard oral arguments yet?

    • #34503 Reply
      Gregory Gaddis

      When I was 21 years of age this girl that was liking me i assume she was legal and we was like each other and we had consensual sex I found out later she was young and then I stopped conversation with her now I’m label as a sex offender for life in Alabama and why I do not think is fair for people to lie about their age just to get with a boy

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