NARSOL’s attorney wins important procedural due process case

By Robin . . . Jonathan Merideth moved to North Carolina in 2004 after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor sexual offense in the state of Washington. Upon arriving, Merideth checked in with the sheriff’s office in his county of residence to find out if his out-of-state conviction would require him to register as a sex offender in North Carolina. After determining that his Washington state conviction was not “substantially similar” to a registerable offense in North Carolina, Merideth was advised that he did not have to register.

Merideth would go on to live registration free for 13 years in North Carolina where he found work, began a family, and settled into a productive, post-conviction life. In 2009, Merideth moved from Person County, NC, to Wake County, NC. Again, he paid a visit to the sheriff’s office to inquire about the possibility that he might have to register, since, by that time, NC had added the electronic solicitation of a minor to its list of registerable offenses. Still, Merideth was told by a Wake County Sheriff’s deputy that he did not need to register.

But, wait. That wasn’t the end of it after all. Merideth and his family’s lives were unalterably changed in June, 2017, when the Wake County Sheriff’s office informed him that he would have to register as a sex offender or face felony consequences for failing to do so.

Faced with the possibility of serious criminal consequences (much more serious than the out-of-state conviction for which he was now determined liable to registration), Merideth dutifully registered as a sex offender. He then contacted NCRSOL and spoke with me about his new and challenging circumstances. I promptly referred him to our attorney, Paul Dubbeling.

In October, 2017, with Dubbeling as his counsel, Merideth filed a complaint to the United States District Court for the Eastern Division of North Carolina. The case drew one of the most conservative federal judges in the nation, Terrence Boyle—a Reagan appointee and close, personal friend of the late senator and conservative stalwart, Jesse Helms.

In his complaint, Merideth alleged that his placement on NC’s sex offender registry after 13 years—having twice been informed by law enforcement in two separate counties that registration was unnecessary, and then informed by the latter county that it had changed its substantially related mind—was a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment right to procedural due process.

At issue in the case was a fairly simple question: When evaluating whether a person who was convicted in another state may be required to register as a sex offender in North Carolina (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-208.6(4)(c)), can local law enforcement agencies make determinations about the “substantial” similarity of another state’s statute and a comparable NC statute that is included in the list of registerable offenses without any procedural guidelines or legal process? In Judge Boyle’s estimation, the answer to that question is no.

The state’s attorneys moved for dismissal of the case in May, 2018. Their ace-in-the-hole (so they thought) was arranging to have Mr. Merideth removed from the registry in an effort to moot the case. Their argument fell flat and appeared only to exacerbate an already skeptical judge who wasn’t all too pleased by the state’s back door machinations to manipulate the Court’s jurisdictional authority. The motion to dismiss was summarily denied on grounds that the important constitutional issue raised by the complaint would continue to evade review and was likely to reoccur.

Both sides moved immediately for summary judgment on the pleadings as there were no material facts in dispute and both sides felt confident of prevailing on the merits of their arguments. The state moved for summary judgment in its favor, claiming that the plaintiff lacked standing (essentially a redux of its motion to dismiss) and that the defendants were all immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment. In his opinion, Judge Boyle efficiently disposed of the state’s arguments and denied its motion for summary judgment outright.

In finding in favor of the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, Judge Boyle stated, “North Carolina’s process for requiring individuals who have committed out-of-state sex offenses to register as sex offenders in North Carolina (1) deprives plaintiff of a cognizable liberty interest and (2) the procedures protecting that interest were constitutionally inadequate.”

Judge Boyle held that it is “plainly true” that requiring an individual to register as a sex offender deprives him of substantial liberty interests as a matter of law, stating, “United States citizens have a protectable right not to be placed on the sex offender registry-not to have their legal status changed so abruptly and severely-without sufficient process,” and “Where there is no process, there can be no due process” [emphasis his].

The state’s attorneys attempted to overcome plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment by arguing that sufficient process had already been provided when Merideth was first convicted in Washington state, that the declaratory judgment he sought was inadequate to provide him relief, and that any additional process he might require was already available through the state’s registry removal options.

Judge Boyle wasn’t having any of that. “The essential components of due process are prior notice and the opportunity to be heard . . . North Carolina provides neither prior notice nor a hearing. In fact, North Carolina provides nothing at all.” Judge Boyle seemed most concerned about the arbitrary determinations of local sheriffs making legal judgments in lieu of any procedures or guidelines provided by the state. “[S]ubstantial similarity has been described as a ‘question of law’ State v. Springle, 781 S.E.2d 518, 522 (N.C. Ct. App. 2016).”

In his order, Judge Boyle granted Mr. Merideth an affirmative declaration of his right to procedural due process protection and permanently enjoined the state from:

(1) Placing plaintiff on the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry without first affording him prior notice and an opportunity to be heard;
(2) Prosecuting plaintiff for any failure to comply with any North Carolina, federal, or other law or regulation applicable solely to registered sex offenders without first affording him prior notice and an opportunity to be heard on whether his previous out-of-state offense is “substantially similar” to a reportable North Carolina conviction.

While the outcome of this remarkable case only applies to Jonathan Merideth at this time, the ramifications for a thousand or more North Carolina residents is palpable. Left to be seen is whether the state attorney general’s office will file a notice of appeal to the Fourth Circuit in Richmond. And until there is a final disposition, it’s too early to decide how best to provide relief for the rest of North Carolina’s sex offender population who were required to register for out-of-state convictions without any procedural protections.

Still, the Court’s judgment is an exceptional victory for registered sex offenders in North Carolina and provides a substantial foundation on which to build. It’s also an illustration about the important relationship between an affiliate organization and competent legal counsel to whom critical cases of opportunities such as this can be quickly referred. We owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Merideth for his courage as a named plaintiff and to attorney Paul Dubbeling for his skilled representation and winning legal strategy. Well done!

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Robin Vander Wall

As vice chair of NARSOL, Robin is the managing editor of the Digest, director of development, and provides assistance to the webmaster in keeping our websites running smoothly. He also serves as founder and president of Vivante Espero, NARSOL's 501(c)(3) foundation and legal fund.

  • This topic has 71 replies, 1 voice, and was last updated 9 months ago by AvatarCODY JAMES MCCLAIN.
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    • #49230 Reply
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      B

      The mere fact that this is an issue so heavily fought is proof in and of itself that the registry is punitive.

      • #49289 Reply
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        erich raulfestone

        SO TRUE!!!

      • #50689 Reply
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        Tim

        B,
        They defend a golden goose!
        The retributive nature and punitive effects are ignored for the benefit derived by some from the advantages domestic electronic surveillance offers those in power to retain relative status quo. There is so much profit for both big gov labor unions AND big data vendors. With the power of the databases and use of flimsy criminal justice processes in hand the various parties were set free to “ghost” potential political rivals. The fact is our criminal justice often produces false positives making ‘felon’ from those not. ( See innocence projects) Furthermore the likelihood of wrongful felonization especially increases when sexual pathology is implicated! (See wrongfulconvictionblog).
        The entire boondoggle has always been about THE DATABASE, the pervert was the means by which the unfettered government use thereof was first justfied and unleashed. Scapegoats for electronic surveillance saints whom of course week to save the world from themselves. An easy sell… TO FOOLS!
        HAGO!

    • #49231 Reply
      Avatar
      Ed C

      I also have to hand it to Judge Boyle for his allegiance to constitutional principles. Many judges take the easy way out when making decisions regarding sex offenders. It is much less painful to decide against a defendant than to face possible criticism from colleagues and the public for siding with a “pervert”.

    • #49232 Reply
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      allie

      This is all well and good but how is this helping registered citizens that aren’t moving out of the state where they were convicted? No citizen of the USA should have to be on any registry if they served their time. Put drug dealers and murderers and arsonist and drunk drivers that kill children and whole families on a registry and see how fast it get’s abolished.

      • #49251 Reply
        Robin Vander Wall
        Robin Vander Wall
        Admin

        Thanks. Unfortunately, the federal judiciary is not yet ready for such a bold leap, and we must be careful not to reach too far too fast or we run the risk of setting ourselves back a generation. Incremental steps in pursuit of our ultimate ends is the policy of NARSOL and its legal team. So far, we believe that the significant legal victories we’ve been connected to are proving this the wisest legal strategy. Your sentiment is correct, just not yet ripe as a reasonable legal strategy.

        • #49627 Reply
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          RegisteredNotOffender

          I have the same conviction from the same state as Mr. Meredith, does this ruling mean I wouldn’t have to apply were I to move to NC?

      • #49371 Reply
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        Lawrence Rider

        Love that

      • #49404 Reply
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        Lawrence Rider

        Love that!

      • #49628 Reply
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        RegisteredNotOffender

        I think you take every small victory you can get before the whole thing comes crashing down.

      • #52875 Reply
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        CODY JAMES MCCLAIN

        well for many who dont know the state of california regisration pc 290 is sex and arson registration and they also regiser drug cases at least thats how it was in 2015 when i was convicted. i am going to court in cumberland county nc on march 13 2019 to be removed at least that is the reason for the hearing and i am intending to bring this case to the judge as an example of simmlar cases that are ruled in favor of the out of state registrant and removed them from the registrtion

    • #49234 Reply
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      Dr. Michael Christianson, M. Esq., JUD

      Thank you for the great win! Hope that you will remember to politely refer to our population as “registered citizen population” or a registered citizens. Instead of referring to us as their “sex offender population”. As if we deserve to be civilly shunned, separated and ostracized from the millions of other normal citizens in North Carolina and elsewhere. No just people can properly think that the sex offender label is polite way to address those who have served their sentences and are living a law abiding life. It’s as demeaning as the word “Nigger” and as thoughtless as the word “Wet back.”

      • #49252 Reply
        Robin Vander Wall
        Robin Vander Wall
        Admin

        Thanks, Michael. I understand your perspective and I respect your feelings about the use of the moniker. As a registered person myself, I don’t appreciate the denigration that attaches to it. However, there is a context in which I believe the term can and should be used, as in this case, so as not to confuse anyone about precisely what population of people I am referring to. Even the pejorative terms you have provided as examples are properly used in certain contexts. Indeed, your use of the terms validates my point. I am not dismissing your concern, however. And I will consider more carefully how I use the term in the future.

      • #49305 Reply
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        Carol Salacka

        Especially since we will be moving to NC by 2020 I am greatly encouraged. I feel hopeful that, as people begin to accept the truth about the registry, these laws will all finally abolished nationwide. I agree with the comments about using terms like “registered citizens” or preferably “citizens required to register”–indicating that the requirement is inappropriate and unconstitutional. Thank you Robin, Paul D., and all the people at NARSOL working so hard for us.

    • #49240 Reply
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      Timothy

      @Robin &NARSOL
      Well done. Confronting the North Carolina legislature through the courts is no simple process. With the courts tending to side with stated legislative intent of SOR, the proof needed now exists. The win here marks a sea change and the tide is turning. The electronic surveillance saints misadventure towards continuous search is finally being recognized for what it is – abhorrent to freemen. The people indeed sold liberty short when they embraced the electronic indenture of humans to machine. There is egregious error in an equation MN > HN, yet so easy to sell to the ignorant mainstream. Thanks to the collateral implications for governmental USE thereof, the concept upheld by the very institutions entrusted and imbued to protect the public welfare sold it out to big data. All three branches failed to do their duty to uphold constitutional limitation and prohibition. And all for the sake of unfettered use of the database. For the billions spent are we any more safe?
      Clearly not.

      The surveillance saints claim the need to protect, but they protect only their own. Ever notice who’s not on the list.

    • #49250 Reply
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      Gilbert Alden Schaffnit

      Congratulations. great work

      • #49271 Reply
        Robin Vander Wall
        Robin Vander Wall
        Admin

        Thanks Gilbert. Excellent work on Paul’s part. I’m secretly hoping the state will appeal so, if upheld, the holding could be extended across the Circuit. But I think the state would be foolish to take that gamble. Then again, maybe the other states in the Fourth have some sort of process in place for evaluating the substantial similarity of out-of-state convictions.

      • #51401 Reply
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        Ron

        This guy could have been off the sex offender list if he accepted the states game, but now he could be on it after he has his due process

    • #49259 Reply
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      Matt S.

      Reading this article lifted my spirits. To see how one man, and possibly so many more at a later date, was protected when the law stepped in and tried to punish him unfairly.

      My only negative views regarding this article, are how so many are still deprived of their rights on a daily basis with no one to step in and help them. Most times with no chance for their voice and stories to be heard.

      As for myself, in the state of Texas, I have no rights under the constitution. Police, courts and anyone else who wants to deprive me of basic rights are allowed to do so. When if the reason they were doing the things they do were for any reason other than being a registered citizen, they would not be allowed to occur. But I and possibly thousands of others have no voice. No protections. I even wonder if this comment will be allowed.

      Which is why I want to publish a free to use app, that gives community support to all registered offenders. Allowing all registered citizens to post, comment, ask questions and get answers. Giving all of us a voice. Hopefully Narsol will support my idea.

      • #49288 Reply
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        SW

        It’s an interesting idea, and it is important that we can and do have a way to communicate, many people are severely limited to the type of phone or internet access.

        As for the article, I think its great that we are having the wins, however “small”, as it is part of a long strategy. Don’t give up!

      • #49306 Reply
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        Scott Wieland

        Justice delayed is justice denied.

      • #49415 Reply
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        David

        I would like to know more about your app idea. Please let me know how we can make contact. Thanks! David

    • #49254 Reply
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      Kristen

      I heartily agree with Ed’s comment, and I’m very encouraged to see a judge siding with our Constitution. As my family is at the beginning stages of a question of due process and constitutional rights violation as I type (our initial motion and supporting brief are filed), I am so heartened to see this. I truly hope to see things change to reflect and awareness of safety – and the rights of registered citizens and their families.

    • #49255 Reply
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      WC_TN

      Now, if NARSOL could only find a willing and competent affiliate attorney here in Tennessee to start chipping away at some of our state laws and policies for registered citizens.

      • #49268 Reply
        Robin Vander Wall
        Robin Vander Wall
        Admin

        Finding attorneys is not the problem. Finding willing plaintiffs with solid cases is the challenge.

        • #49273 Reply
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          Jeremy from Indiana

          Robin, I have a strong case, I think. I’m in Indiana. The last time I brought this up to Narsol, they gave me the email of an attorney here in Indiana whom I sent an email to and never got a reply.

        • #49282 Reply
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          Eli

          That’s interesting to me. Is there a list somewhere of the kind of plaintives and “solid cases” being sought after? And, in which states? If so, publishing it may help find those plaintives or allow them to find you and volunteer.

          Also, very glad to see a positive court result. Great work. I thank you all for your perseverance.

          I have moved to 2 different states other than the state of conviction. Neither had any process to verify if my case is appropriately similar.

          Also, the state I’m in now refused to work with the state I was convicted in when they requested an updated photo. The person in charge in this state told me on the phone they are not required to do so. I believe interstate agreements do require them to do so. Then, she told me to ignore the original state because “you aren’t ever going back there anyway, so what if they put a warrant on you.” Then she hung up on me. Why did she think I would never go back there? Why did she think they wouldn’t have me arrested and transferred to the original state?

          My point is, those administering these systems need a well defined legal process for handling those with out-of-state convictions. Especially when the crime of conviction is not a crime in the other state.

          Thank you for reading my babble. Have a great day.

        • #49295 Reply
          Charlie
          Chuck

          Hi Robin, Finding an attorney to take a case without money to back it up is the problem so far as I’ve been told. If you have any info on attorneys that would honestly review our cases to see if there is merit, or a group of plantiffs even for a strong case, it would be a tremendous relief just to have an interested advocate attorney to speak with…even if the decision is to wait or not at all likely to win assessment. My frustration, as I expect is the frustration of my fellows is, attorneys won’t even reply to their own email contact for a in line when I give them the basics. The few exceptions have asked right off, “how much are you willing to spend” or some variation of that. The only attorney to spend time with me is one that you yourself pointed me to (and I am so grateful for that) was the one on the pod cast in October from Colorado. She did advise me to wait in the 10th curcuit, and then, if that isn’t upheld, how to address my issues through my current home state. The relief to hear that I had to wait was actually a gift. I have sat for years anxious that I could or should be doing something I didn’t know about, extending my suffering and my families suffering unnecessarily. So, having a fair review by an attorney who actually cares is a huge need for us. She only had to spend 5 or so minutes to help me get the fear off my heart.
          I also know that it is not NARSOLs job to take up everyone’s case. That would be an unwise use of limited funds. The war strategies you have are wise and we all need to remember that. My only wish is that enough attorneys who are interested in this area of social justice in each of the states would agree to get on a list that NARSOL could provide. Perhaps if that happened, there would be a way to collect solid cases and pool the meager money we have to hire someone. Money may not equal justice, but lack of money certainly equals no justice.

          • #49353 Reply
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            Matt S.

            Everything you said was accurate, but your ending statement was dead on. Without money there is no justice in most cases.

            After being literally threatened by the assistant prosecutor into taking an Alford plea, when if they couldn’t have forced me to sign under threats of them sending my mom to prison on made up charges the case was going to get dropped that same day due to the only “evidence” they allegedly had was a rapist turning states evidence, making false contradictory claims on his neighbor for a reduced sentence, a lawyer told us he could get it all reversed easily. For $25,000 we didn’t have.

            Then after being court ordered, and police enforced, to live at my moms house, I was revocated from the probation and charged again for living to close to a school near my moms house.

            Every day I live in a world where there is no justice. Currently going to court for a ticket that the cop told me he was writing me because I’m a sex offender. After he tried to find a reason to send me back to prison (heard it in the police dash cam), because he hates sex offenses, during the traffic stop. Plus the accused violation doesn’t even exist in my state, my city, or my countys law.

            But still, I’ll have to pay a lawyer more money to beat it than it’d cost me if I lost. I’ll probably find a way to pay him even though I can’t afford it cause I’m tired of being punished and mistreated for a past conviction.

            There’s no justice for most of us. Only the realization that maybe one day the law will protect us too, and there’s a better life in the end when this life is over.

            For the lawyers that do help, I pray God blesses y’all with the best life’s y’all can have. I understand y’all can’t save everyone, and I’m proud of y’all for doing what y’all can.

        • #49336 Reply
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          Misty

          In some states it’s as challenging to find a solid plaintiff as it is finding an attorney who is familiar enough with the tedious registration laws- regardless of how much money is available.

        • #49781 Reply
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          Joseph R Park Jr

          Robin,

          I’m in Atlanta Georgia. I completed my sentence over 3 years ago, am under no probation or parole. I am 67, retired on a lifetime pension. I am a registered citizen and I volunteer to be a plaintiff in any action that NARSOL wishes to bring. I presently have a case in the Georgia Supreme Court awaiting a decision. Oral arguments were October 10, 2018. It’s a criminal case having been charged with tampering with an electronic monitoring device. I expect a favorable decision due to the many precedents I have on my side. I have an excellent attorney, Mark Yurachek, who is a master of the written brief. But, he ain’t cheap so I would like to continue my legal fight against the registry as a plaintiff for you.

          There is a very interesting case I’m following, Tyson Timbs v Indiana. Oral arguments were November 28, 2018 in the United States Supreme Court:
          https://www.supremecourt.gov/search.aspx?filename=/docket/docketfiles/html/public/17-1091.html
          This is an 8th Amendment case involving the seizure by the state of his $40,000 Land Rover because he used it to transport a small quantity of drugs. It’s a case of excessive penalty for the crime charged. And why would this be important to us? Because hanging criminal penalties on a so-called civil regulatory law, the sex offender failure to register law, is obviously excessive. Failure to do something is akin to doing nothing at all. How can the state justify throwing someone in prison, usually for years, for doing nothing? Failure to register is a classic non-violent, victimless crime. I would think that any experienced attorney could argue that a felony sentence for such an offense is excessive and unreasonable. Actually, I think the Federal District Judge who ruled on this procedural due process case above would be an excellent choice to bring such an action before.

          There are several others right now either requesting or having been granted Cert that will have an enormous impact on sex offender registry laws if thing go our way with them. There’s Bethea v North Carolina, Gundy v United States, Boyd v Washington. These are exciting times for court followers such as myself.

          Again, if you are seeking a plaintiff for any action whatever to do with sex offender registry laws, I’m your man. I’m up for just about anything.

        • #49901 Reply
          Avatar
          RJK

          Hello there, I think I have a strong case as well. I believe I am the victim and am currently still within court proceedings. I have tried to retain an attorney but he quoted me for a certain price but tripled it before trial. I have learned alot about registrants since this year and I want to help these people. I believe my court case highlights the harshness the court pursues without the burden of proof required and that even those convicted should not be barred from recovery. I am required to make AA meetings everyday because I admitted I was roofied by the alleged victim, thus I must hear about convicts of arson, robbery, battery, and man slaughter and how they have recovered, why is there no such path for registrants? As a man with no money but what I believe to be a strong case I am left with pleading to something I did not do or risking going to trial without counsel. Even if I plead my denial will only create harsher sentences. This is corrupt and as the victim I cannot call many findings about my case that question their sexual deviancy or past crimes, I only hope that adequate counsel can help me and others to highlight the witch hunt that goes on in America especially regarding the burden of proof and protections that are only afforded to one side. If you can connect me to an attorney it’d be greatly appreciated

        • #50031 Reply
          Avatar
          Joseph R Park Jr

          Robin,

          Failure to register is a non-violent, victimless crime. Failure to do something is the same as having done nothing. Therefore, any penalty amounting to a felony sentence, is excessive. Due process is a valid approach in its own way, but the 8th Amendment bar on excessive penalties is more what we need to focus on. The 8th amendment to the constitution says, among other things, that the punishment must fit the crime. Putting a person in prison for doing nothing is by its very definition excessive.

          Furthermore, it would seem to me that even the most astute attorney would not find in the constitution the right for the government to compel a person who has completed his sentence to do anything. A person who is not under any form of court supervision must have the right to be let alone by the government. I have been convicted of a sexual offense, I was sentenced to prison, I served my sentence and am now free of all that. Yet, I am encumbered for life by the government for past crimes. I highly resent that I have to set aside time from my life to report to the sheriff of my county to fill out forms and sign acknowledgements that I understand what I sign for. I resent that an investigator intrudes on my property 4 times a year to investigate a crime that has not even occurred. They come to my residence as if maybe I lied and they are investigating the probability that I gave false information. I have told the investigators that if I need a policeman at my door I’ll call 911 and to get off my property unless called. Nevertheless, they come back as if nothing ever happened.

          Many sex offenders are still on probation or parole or supervised release, by many have completed their sentences and as such should be let alone by the government and not compelled to involuntarily do something at the government’s command.

          If you need a client to challenge this abomination, I’m right here.

      • #51309 Reply
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        Elaine

        Amen to that , the laws and restrictions ;(

    • #49272 Reply
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      Jeremy from Indiana

      I have a strong feeling that the state will not appeal this case. I believe that the government entities involved in these cases are purposely avoiding the higher courts as much as possible. Maybe it’s because they know if enough cases go up higher, then the entire registry scheme will fall apart at the seams. This case is further evidence of my hypothesis when the state tried to remove him from the registry to get the case dismissed. We may be seeing my case soon using this one as comparable case law. I was convicted by military court-martial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and was never directed by the court to register. I now live in Indiana and am forced to register under the “substantially similar” rule. I was also denied due process.

      • #49297 Reply
        Avatar
        TS

        @Jeremy

        Under the UCMJ, the court will not tell you need to register, but DOD Instructions and applicable Federal law will tell you to register when convicted through a court-martial.

        • #49344 Reply
          Avatar
          Jeremy from Indiana

          That’s not entirely true. DoD Inst. 1325.07 is the directive you are referring to, but that was not distributed until 2013. My conviction was in 2010. In 2009, the registry here in Indiana was considered punitive by the Indiana Supreme Court (Wallace v Indiana). So, a directive in 2013 cannot tell me to do something that is punitive “after the fact” and since they didn’t tell me to do it when I was convicted, telling me to do it now is denying due process and could be considered ex post facto. That’s the gist of my case.

          • #49373 Reply
            Avatar
            TS

            @Jeremy

            No, actually I am referring to DODI 1325.7, July 17, 2001, Incorporating Change 1, June 10, 2003, Paragraph, 6.18.5, Notice to prisoners subject to sex offender registration requirements.

            Nine years (or seven if you count the change incorporation publish date) before your 2010 UCMJ conviction. Your reference to the 2013 revision is Change 2 incorporation of the DODI and since then has had Change 3 incorporated as of April 2018.

          • #50953 Reply
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            Jeremy from Indiana

            Do you happen to have a link or source for that directive? The problem I have is that I was never even told of my obligation to register until I was checking out of the brig to be released on parole. These directives treat the registry as an administrative measure rather than a punitive one. Since Indiana declared it punitive in 2009, my argument is that I should have been informed at sentencing to satisfy due process of a punishment I would have to endure. At this point, I only have 5 more years of a 10 year requirement and the courts take so long on most of these cases that it would probably be pointless for me to fight. My biggest fear though is that they change the law when I’m at year 9 to make Indiana a lifetime registry state. Even worse would be year 15 after I’m already off. I guess I would have a strong case then though as the registrant in this article did.

      • #49790 Reply
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        Joseph R Park Jr

        I agree with you that the sex offender registry scheme is coming apart at the seams, one victory at a time, building upon each victory great or small. I think I might move temporarily to North Carolina to this very same jurisdiction and using the very same attorney, try ’em up. It is my personal opinion that North Carolina is fertile ground for challenging registry laws because they write such sloppy, unconstitutional laws and then are unable to successfully defend them in court. Hence, Grady and Packingham, and now Meredith. (There may be others – these are just the ones I know about without looking.) It seems that the North Carolina Supreme Court has the misbegotten attitude that no goddam lowdown scum of the earth sex offender is going to win anything in our court. That’s (not) okay, just take it straight to the Federal District Court instead.

    • #49278 Reply
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      Rahkeem from New York

      I appreciate your taking this up. I hope we get another  win in Gundy v. United States. Many of us were not obligated to register for life at one point and now have to. This has affected me greatly. I hope we get wins in all areas of this. Robin Vander Wall, Admin, let NARSOL know that even though I’m not in North Carolina, this gives me hope. I want to say thanks so much for taking this issue on.

      • #49340 Reply
        Robin Vander Wall
        Robin Vander Wall
        Admin

        Thank you for your support and kind words.

    • #49283 Reply
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      Saddles

      I wonder who that guy was that said, “Don’t Give Up the Ship” Yes I can see this decision is a positive for those, maybe even me also but as Paul we all have to tread lightly and when your dealing with man’s court things can change but a dicision is a decision and is very different from a choice.

      We all have our own batles but thank those that understand the value of due process as its all about principal and caring people such as Paul and NARSOL and others to fight alot of this mockery of justice.

    • #49290 Reply
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      Vee

      That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

    • #49311 Reply
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      Eric Knight

      Just an aside:

      When you get a close, personal friend of Jesse Helms ruling AGAINST you and FOR the would-be registrant, you know that the law is seriously…SERIOUSLY…out of wack.

      • #49341 Reply
        Robin Vander Wall
        Robin Vander Wall
        Admin

        It also gives the lie to the idea that conservative judges can’t understand–or don’t sympathize–with the issues registrants are facing. But, truly, the sex offender registry is not owned by either party and the partisans on both sides are just as likely to campaign as “tough on sex offenders” as a political tool to win votes. Still, conservative judges ought actually to be more inclined towards our arguments since the very idea of a sex offender registry is a facet of “social engineering” (which is something more often associated with “liberals” and progressive democrats). As a general rule, NARSOL takes no side in politics (indeed, we are prohibited from doing so). And we are keen on making sure that our advocacy isn’t seen in a partisan light.

        • #49629 Reply
          Avatar
          RegisteredNotOffender

          Don’t forget Robin in Smith v. Doe it was the three liberal judges — Breyer, Ginsburg and Stevens who suggested the sex offender registry is unconstitutional for violating post facto.

        • #49914 Reply
          Avatar
          Tim

          Robin is absolutely correct in his observation that both Ds&Rs are guilty of protracting the domestic violence issue for political gain. The only necessary distinction a registrant must make between the two is SO not to confuse which party owns the plantation and which party operates the plantation.

          Currently them that own it are in power represented by the DON. They that run it are none to happy as represented by Mr. Schumer. Each party has databases of their own of good guys, and bad guys of course. The extremes of each party spend a great deal of time and money attacking the margins of the other in nasty ways utilizing law. Given that a people defer to leadership to set behavioral norms (See WI v Constanteneau: Smith V Doe) we can only expect our society to become more nasty, angry and nihilistic as per the obfuscation of duty already displayed by our two party leadership that merely represent two groups: Big business & BIG Labor. Big data is big business and in today’s business world, a firm or government cannot survive without both. Data is a definite commodity, the registrant generates it, registration agents takes it to market, firms use the data to profit. Mr. Kennedy said as much himself in NC v Packingham. It is quite obvious the intent of the electronic regulatory regime was to impose unreasonable affirmative disability, but the feds need the use to appear effective. I truely suspect the database is being used to protect the sovereignty of the two party system so that no viable third can naturally arise. Maybe 2020 will shed some light.

    • #49312 Reply
      Avatar
      CR

      Is it possible for the state to define a new process for determining whether an out-of-state offense is “substantially similar” to an NC reportable offense, and apply it to the plaintiff and anyone else who committed offenses out of state before moving to NC? If it affords the due process that the judge said was lacking, wouldn’t that suffice to make it constitutional?

      The judge’s order implies that possibility. It enjoins the state from placing the plaintiff on the sex offender registry “… without first affording him prior notice and an opportunity to be heard on whether his previous out-of-state offense is “substantially similar” to a reportable North Carolina conviction.”

      • #49342 Reply
        Robin Vander Wall
        Robin Vander Wall
        Admin

        Certainly, it’s possible. And that’s very likely what the state will do. Then the questions will be whether or not the process is sufficient and whether or not it’s permissible to impose it retroactively. There’s still a lot of juice to squeeze out of this one.

        • #49370 Reply
          Avatar
          CR

          We know what the state’s presumption will be regarding retroactive application of whatever new process they come up with. As long as registration is designated by the legislature to be a civil regulatory non-punitive measure, and the courts do not decide otherwise, it will most likely be applied retroactively.

      • #49944 Reply
        Avatar
        Joseph R Park Jr

        It would seem to me that no matter what is done by North Carolina to try to correct this, every person entering North Carolina with a sex offense committed in another state will have to be afforded a court hearing to determine if the offense committed in the other state qualifies as a registerable offense in North Carolina, therefore creating an unwanted clog in the courts. This is a good thing. This is one of those unforeseen consequences of having such an idiotic abominable scheme as a sex offender registry. Furthermore, it would seem to me that every state in the Union will have to do the same if any sex offender from any state relocates to a different state and retains legal representation to challenge the requirement to register as Meredith did. This is more than a good thing, it’s a great thing. It could be nationwide, maybe not creating chaos, but causing a serious irritation in the states’ legal systems. After all, every state has an offense called child molestation, but it will take a court to determine the legal question of whether your child molestation meets the elements of the new state’s offense called child molestation.

    • #49337 Reply
      Avatar
      Pennsylvania

      I am still baffled as to why we are not seeing more people suing the govt over due process as the entire concept of a registry itself is unconstitutional and in violation of our inalienable right to freedom and to pursue happiness. As far as due process goes. The entire concept of a registry suggests that you must register because you a danger to society when the ACTUAL TRUTH is that people who have been convicted of an offense that is sexual in nature are the LEAST likely to ever commit another crime and even less likely for it to be something sexual in nature. There is NO system or process that allows an individual to produce EVIDENCE and call on expert witnesses on their behalf. Once again violating an individual’s right to due process that a government can label someone a threat to society when they themselves have NO evidence to provide that even remotely backs up their claims. The even purpose of the registry is an absolute draconian law.

      All of this information has been published for decades from our very own government resources and departments, of which are continually submitted to Congress and State Sentencing Commission’s stating this evidence. Yet I see no one arguing these facts. Our system is supposed to be about “EVIDENCE” – NOT – “THEORETICAL ARGUMENTS & DRACONIAN LOGIC”.

      Why are we not attacking the issue at the actual source. Not the rules of registration, the REGISTRATION ITSELF IS THE ISSUE. I have mountains of information and published research papers, again, from our very own government. Put me in contact with someone who has some horsepower and can combat this thing.

      THE REGISTRATION AND THE LIKE MUST BE ABOLISHED!!!

      • #49343 Reply
        Robin Vander Wall
        Robin Vander Wall
        Admin

        We certainly agree with you. But, unfortunately, the judiciary is not ready to go quite so far just yet. This is an incremental battle. We have to take one hill at a time. As I responded earlier to another commenter, if we attempt to rush ahead too quickly, we can easily get flanked and that will set us back for an entire generation, legally speaking. So, please know that our hearts are totally with you, but our legal strategy is set to avoid catastrophe.

        • #51044 Reply
          Avatar
          Glen

          Robin,

          It’s been some time since Gundy was heard and still no verdict by SCOTUS. I was expecting a setback frankly because a positive verdict has the potential to greatly affect many many registrants. Due to the delay in issueing the verdict, I’m actually more optimistic; yet still, I don’t expect much.

          I’m curious what your take on that situation is. Any thoughts on the delayed verdict announcement by SCOTUS?

          Respectfully,

          Glen

      • #49363 Reply
        Charlie
        Chuck

        In Colorado, as was pointed out during the podcast last Sept or Oct, certain categories are now denied even the legal right to petition for removal from the registry, even if the sentencing guidelines at the time specified that right at the 10 year mark. This legislated prohibition denies due process from a certain sub-groip or the sub-class of ex- offenders. Compounding one problem upon another. Yet, after contacting ever attorney’s office in the Metro areas of Denver and Colo Springs that even suggest they have an expertise in the area of sex crime defense, they all refuse to either consider taking up the case, or ask for huge amounts of money for a case that will simply get denied before it ever gets going. There is no justice when we are barred from even petitioning the court. Due process won’t happen if we never get a voice. It’s like we don’t exist if we can be so silenced. It’s frustrating to wait and see when some of us are truly dying off while denied hope. I’m hitting retirement age, but can’t retire because of poverty. God forbid I need long term care, because I’m barred from nursing homes. And, in my state, there is no Medicaid for the elderly. So…some us will die being patient. That’s not comforting at all.

      • #49917 Reply
        Avatar
        Tim

        @ Pennsylvania,
        In truth is it has always been more about the ” uses of” the database than the sexual offender. As Justice Stevens put it, that state insists upon applying it to them AND ONLY THEM suggests punitive intent behind the regime. That specific intent of affirmative disability including the unreasonable. Remember state denied punitive intent and the courts erroneously opted to defer to stated legislative intent of the machines As if the founders had not anticipated a state would never embrace public safety when justifying the ex post, ” was in prison for a conviction or adjudication… “. If the state were forced to admit SOR.gov databases were being used to alienate liberty or to punish it would implicate necessary restrictions on government use. The powers that be just are not having that because it is a threat to their political security.

    • #49368 Reply
      Avatar
      dave

      i just read the article about the man from NC, and i applaud all the efforts made by everyone involved..i am listed on my state’s registry, and although i feel there is no reason for me to be there, i am also in a position where moving out of state is not an option..i was forced to register in 1998 when the law here first was enacted..my issue was, and always have been, that my “sentence” was completed THREE YEARS before the site was even considered..therefore, i feel as though i am punished twice..since ’98, i have been unable to find and sustain regular employment. i am in my late 50’s, with health issues and a partial disability due to a car accident. if not for immediate family, i’d be homeless and living in a vehicle. if this were to happen, my state would have no way of knowing where i was unless they were to pull me over for a traffic violation. this being said, i am still happy for mr. meredith, and i wish him well and better luck than i am having..

      • #50453 Reply
        Avatar
        Tim

        @dave,

        Christ horse, I’m in the very same boat!

        My state ignores its own law.
        304.15 ,g
        WHO IS COVERED
        304.15g(a)
        “A person found guilty of adjudicated delinquent on or after December 23, 1993, for an offense…”
        Clearly Congress opted not to include those convicted prior, yet we are?

        How does your state law read?

    • #49375 Reply
      Avatar
      Lawrence Rider

      Makes me wonder how a “national” registry created by Congress only applies in many cases according to geographic happenstance, which coerces departure from one’s home county or state. I didn’t think that kind of interstate conflict was suppose to happen.

    • #49405 Reply
      Avatar
      Lawrence Rider

      If ‘similarity’ is a question of law, how can that be answered by the legislative branch rather than the judicial branch?
      And if a legislature made a determination of law in order to comply with the AWA, why isn’t that a legislative trial and Bill of Attainder?

      • #51043 Reply
        Avatar
        Glen

        Agreed. Additionally, it is nearly requiring any registered citizen to pay and retain an attorney prior to visiting or moving out of state due to the different registration laws.

        And, due to the convuluted and difficult to understand laws in the different jurisdictions, even an attorneys interpretation and advise doesn’t ensure you won’t be found in violation or prosecuted.

    • #49442 Reply
      Avatar
      aurelius

      Similar happening in Michigan when?

    • #49552 Reply
      Avatar
      Mike

      Let’s be real. We have all heard over and over and over again this same song and dance. The registry isn’t going anywhere any time soon. We can wish all we want but it’s not going to happen.
      Sorry but I’ve seen no real change in 10 yrs and that’s just how it is.
      There are a lot of bad laws but nothing changes.
      Still we are abused.
      I’ll get excited when I see real change.
      Sorry for being blunt honest.

    • #49592 Reply
      Avatar
      John DOE-TX

      Congratulations on the Victory. Our case was just denied in Texas. I’m one of the main Does in this case. And will not give up on the fight. We’re all entitled to due process. My case fits this case to the T. My conviction was in another state. I moved to Texas and now have to register after 21 years. Wish me luck on the higher court.

      • #51041 Reply
        Avatar
        Glen

        I do wish you luck John Doe. Much support out here for your case, and I’m rooting for you.

    • #50688 Reply
      Avatar
      Hayden Johnson

      I moved to NC from Washington state in 2009 where I was convicted of 3rd degree rape. I was told that in NC I would have to be registered as having committed 2nd degree since NC does not recognize 3rd degree rape. There was no procedural due process. I have done everything I am suppose to do, but now am being denied the opportunity to buy a house because the rear property line is 263 feet from a rarely used ballfield. The house itself is 325 feet from the field. Effectively am not on the field, but the sheriffs office doesn’t see it that way. Help.

      • #50876 Reply
        Avatar
        Tim

        Hayden, I’m not a member but I’d but I’d write Mr. Kennedy and ask him what to do.
        I do not have his address, but iF you use USPS send it to the supreme court in DC, they’ll likely forward it to him or send it back.

    • #51040 Reply
      Avatar
      Glen

      I’m in a similar situation. 18 years ago, I pled guilty to a 1st offense misdemeanor peeping Tom offense in SC. Naively, at the time I didn’t realize the severity and didn’t retain an attorney. I had never been in trouble with the law, and didn’t even realize it was a registerable offense until after the court plea when I was signing the documents for the two years probation I received. Because it was a misdemeanor, I only had 10 days to appeal. I was stupid.

      Anyway, the charge (regardless of felony, misdemeanor, etc) is a lifetime registerable offense in SC.

      The charge is not even a registerable offense in NC, but the law states if you are required to register in another state, you are required to register in NC… regardless if it is not even a registerable offense in NC. So, I’m required to register in NC.

      Keep in mind also that if you are convicted in another state of a crime that doesn’t require registration, you may still be required to register in NC if the PTB determines that crime (in a different jurisdiction) would have “equated” to a similar crime in NC that requires registration; not doing so is a violation. In other words, damned if you do and damned if you don’t. And it almost requires the offender to have juris doctorate – certified in all states- to even interpret the law. Unfortunately, I do not. It’s hard enough, I hear, to pass the BAR in merely one state…much less, 50.

    • #51326 Reply
      Avatar
      aurelius

      It saddens me about all the progress that seemed to be made in Michigan, only to get swept under the rug simply because of elections and a corrupt governor. I am glad however not all states are this cruel, as this case is showing.

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