*On January 22, 2018 SCOTUS denied hearing Muniz. The advocates in PA and NARSOL are working to develop a strategy to support those impacted by Muniz. The Pennsylvania Prison Society and the Pennsylvania Defenders Association are both recommending to all of their clients that they sit tight in terms of getting off the registry unless they are in prison for violating SORNA itself. The reasoning behind this recommendation is that (a) relief obtained in the short term might quickly be taken back when a new law is enacted, and (b) flooding the courts will only pressure the Senate to adopt HB 1952 (the “legislative fix” intended to contain as many people as possible on the registry). The strategies now being examined are focused on helping as many individuals on the PA registry as possible in the most efficient and effective way. *
By NARSOL . . . January 22 SCOTUS denied to hear the case of Pennsylvania v. Jose M. Muniz.
In looking at what led up to this, Joshua Vaughn now writes (The Sentinel, 1/22/2018)
The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear a challenge to a recent state court ruling that determined part of Pennsylvania’s sex offender registration law was unconstitutional.
The high court denied a petition from the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office to review a July decision from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that found the state’s current sex offender registration law was punishment and thus could not be imposed retroactively….
In July, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that [a] 2012 update, which expanded the offenses covered under the law and changed how often and for how long some people must register, was punishment.
Prior to the ruling, the registry was generally considered a civil penalty, which allowed it to be imposed on people retroactively.
The challenge came from a Cumberland County case where defendant Jose Muniz argued he was subject to harsher penalties under the 2012 update than he was at the time of his conviction.
So the ruling of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stands. What happens next? As soon as we have official legal opinions and advice, we will pass it on.
Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.