Federal Judge to hear new arguments on unconstitutional Michigan Sex Offender Registry

By Justin Dwyer

Lawyers will make their case in front of a federal judge on Wednesday over what to do about the state’s sex offender registry.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled nearly four years ago that many of the requirements of Michigan’s registry are unconstitutional. But the law hasn’t been changed, and people continue to be on the list.

“The court has said that this registry is so ineffective, that it is also unconstitutional,” says Miriam Aukerman, senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Michigan. “And yet the Legislature has done nothing to fix it.”

In its August 2016 opinion, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals described Michigan’s Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA) as “a byzantine code governing in minute detail the lives of the state’s sex offenders.”

“SORA brands registrants as moral lepers solely on the basis of a prior conviction,” the court wrote in its opinion. “It consigns them to years, if not a lifetime, of existence on the margins, not only of society, but often, as the record in this case makes painfully evident, from their own families, with whom, due to school zone restrictions, they may not even live.”

The court declared parts of Michigan’s Sex Offenders Registration Act unconstitutional because some things retroactively applied to people whose convictions happened long before the law was put in place.

“And while many (certainly not all) sex offenses involve abominable, almost unspeakable, conduct that deserves severe legal penalties, punishment may never be retroactively imposed or increased,” the judges for the Sixth Circuit wrote in 2016.

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    • #67829 Reply

      Having someone on a sex offender registry is no different than having a personal protection order (PPO) on someone in Michigan. By the time the crime is committed it’s to late. The last thing on a person’s mind that has the PPO on them is a piece of paper saying they can’t be near that person or contact them in any shape or form. Especially if that person with the PPO against them is mentally unstable. A sex offender registry is not gonna stop the sex offender from committing another sex crime if they really want to. Let’s be smart about this and not strict about this since being strict about this for all these years since Rick Jones, a former sheriff, who helped with this registry hasn’t been working. Think about it, there is people on the registry that has never even attempted sex or came into physical contact with anyone. The dictionary meaning of the word sex is intercourse between two people. So unless that happened or an attempt of that happened then people that didn’t have that happen shouldn’t be in there either. The crime for indecent exposure if u have your child use the bathroom outside and gets caught three times your kid will be on that registry too. If u grab a person’s butt in the bar whether it’s a man or woman u will be on the sex offender registry too if it is reported. People who r on that registry don’t all need to be on there. There is people on there with no victim at all in their crime that should have never been on there in the first place. When someone has to register while in jail on their way to prison, that incarceration time in jail in prison should also apply to their registration period of whatever years to be on it. It’s not likr they don’t know where u r if u r in prison for so many years do incarceration time should count towards the registration period as well. This should all apply retroactive to those already on the registry too. Some of this can be done safely without doing away with the sex offender registry too if needed. Having the sex offender registry is a waste of money and it’s not about being strict on this it’s about being smart on this. There is more people on the sex offender registry in Michigan than people in prison. I prefer to do away with the whole registry. If not then only allow law enforcement know where that person lives that is on the sex offender registry since people who r on there can be found and killed who r on there and if that happens then their family should due the state because of it including the judges and prosecutors and police who put them on the sex offender registry and not have the taxpayers pay for the lawsuit either. That’s just my opinion though.

    • #67832 Reply

      The problem with keeping a sex offender registry, even if only accessible by police, is that your registration may still entail the same reporting obligations as they do currently. Also, it will allow “Brat Watch” (and yes I am being sarcastic there) to still inform other countries that you plan on visiting.

      The registry must be done away with. IML must be done away with. I get the whole idea of wanting to protect children across the world from sex tourism but how many registrants can even afford to travel at all, let alone pay for sex in other currencies?
      Many registrants can’t even find employment. The people tracking for illegal sex tourism are our very own government officials who can afford it. Period.
      So when a registrant’s family and children want to go on a nice vacation and they can scrounge up the money to afford it, let them go! IML is punitive and damaging to the spouses and children of registrants.
      The cops don’t need to know where any of us live. Crime is going to happen no matter what. Police should probably focus more on the gang violence that KILLS innocent bystander children in cities like Chicago, IL., Bridgeport, CT., Los Angeles, CA. and all other big cities where there are KNOWN gangs and illegal gun crimes. But this country is literally obsessed with S E X. Somehow sex is a threat to the safety of the public but gang shootings aren’t. Go figure.

    • #67836 Reply

      Something else I’d like to add here as an argument against the ideas of some registrants saying they’d prefer a “police dept only registry” – Even a private police only registry will get you banned from places like Disney World if you have children who would like mommy and daddy to take them there. A huge corporation like Disney will surely have access, or have police at the gates doing the checking.

      Here’s something that Disney should ask itself: Have there been sex offenses BEFORE Megan’s Law? Yes. That’s obvious. Have people with sexual convictions ever entered Disney World prior to Megan’s Law? Quite possibly since there was no restriction back then. How many sex offenses happened from a convicted offender on Disney property? All they need to do is look back in their records of any arrests on their property. I bet the answer will be “No”.

      So, even a private registry would be as detrimental to us all just like the public one currently is.

    • #67839 Reply

      So..”Do nothing but waste more taxpayer money” part 2? or was it part 3? I lost count. I’m still waiting for the joke to have a punchline.

    • #67934 Reply

      Anyone hear about yesterday?



      • #67936 Reply

        Yes Mac,
        Judge Cleland is expected to rule on this in the coming days or weeks. We don’t know when, but we are following it closely and something will be posted as soon as we know.

    • #67943 Reply

      Thanks Fred, any thoughts on how he will go?


      • #67945 Reply

        Our people in Michigan felt that the Judge seemed favorable to our side, but the State is asking him to send the case to Michigan’s Supreme Court and let them decide it, which would take longer. So we don’t know what he is going to decide. I hope it won’t be a long wait.

    • #67946 Reply

      @Fred, I know you probably don’t know this, but think it’s still worth asking, so it sounds like those of us that are pre-2006 and 2011 will be or should be removed from the registry, but once its revised and meets constitutional muster, can they legally place us back on it?. If you remember my conviction was in 1992 before the registry existed. I was placed on it for 25 years then changed to life and now I will have 28 years on it June 19th, unless I am removed by then, but can they put me back on once the registry meets constitutional muster. Thanks in advance.

    • #67949 Reply

      Anything to delay the inevitable. Those who support the registry know the law’s days are numbered. I don’t understand how a subordinate attorney with the state A.G.’s office can argue from a position that disagrees with their superior, the state A.G. herself. She argues severability should NOT apply and that the law should be struck in its entirety because its punitive nature outstrips the safety issues it is supposed to address. How does that work, Fred? How can a subordinate lawyer in the A.G.’s office try to undermine his superior’s argument?

      Why wouldn’t the judge look at the state’s past inaction and say, “Enough is enough. This is bull shit. You’ve had 3 chances to fix this law and you blew it EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Therefore, since this legislative body refuses to act, I will. I hereby issue a PERMANENT INJUNCTION AGAINST ENFORCEMENT OF ANY PART OF THIS LAW. NOW GO DO YOUR JOB AND DRAFT A LAW THAT COMPLIES TOTALLY WITH THE 6TH CIRCUIT’S RULING.”

    • #68007 Reply
      Not a SO

      Hi Fred. Perhaps you may be able to answer a question or two for me concerning the Court’s statement in “Smith v Doe, 538 US@ 101-102”. Here, the court is speaking about: 1) In Person Reporting to a police agency, and 2) registrants being able to live and work where they wish and to travel without restriction. Now, my interpretation of this is that the court is saying that if Alaska’s sex offender statute had required in person reporting to a police agency and registrants could not live and work where they wished and travel without restriction, then the statute would be unconstitutional. Am I correct? Or is the court just running off at the mouth? Please offer your insight.

    • #68038 Reply
      Not a SO

      Fred, as to my questions above, you don’t know this but, I have asked 21 attorneys here in Texas, yes 21, this same question and for some strange reason not one (I got crickets) could or would answer this question!!! I don’t know if you’re an attorney and cannot: however, I know that NARSOL has attorneys on staff that perhaps can answer/interpret these statements by the court. And if my interpretation is correct then it may well the magic bullet needed to “Exercise” this demon called sex offender registration.

    • #68099 Reply
      Tim in WI

      Stuck! Hard up against the police state and surveillance saints.
      Designated “civil” indeed. The uses of the machine to attack. There are many.
      Electronic poll stations are another. As if the practice of free men and votes have never been an historical issue. By limiting residence you impact the vote by isolation, similar to gerrymandering.
      By limiting SPEECH, as in FB TOS, the pattern of silence continues. Kicking the can is precisely what I expect as clawing back from ” unfettered civil” use of data collection is not possible.

      Given NO widespread protests by registrants are occuring, one can only presume disinterest by registrants their families and advocacy groups to do what other oppressed groups have done. Imagine the press!

    • #68141 Reply
      Not a SO

      So, yet again, no one is willing to address/comment on/answer my inquiry on statements made by the court in “Smith v Doe, 538 U.S. @ 101-102”. But I will persist, because there has to be an attorney (and not compromised) out there somewhere brave enough to address this issue. Anyway, in the meantime, I’ll throw a soft ball with this comment on the state of MI wanting a do-over with the Synder case. It’s equivalent to the San Francisco 49ers, who lost the Superbowl to Kansas City Chiefs, complaining to the league their dislike of the outcome of the game and begging to have the game replayed. Same difference. The state of MI lost in Synder, didn’t like the outcome, and want to replay the game. And 5-1 odds if they lose this round (unless they have a bought and paid for Judge) they’ll want another!!! Wait and see.

    • #72422 Reply

      Im surprised it has taken over 30 years for Courts to realize the Sex Offender Laws are Unconstitutional, and Punitive.
      While I understand that Criminals should not get away with crimes, and should be punished for them. ASex Offender Registry is not the way to do this because it takes away from the original meaning, and sentencing by the Courts at sentencing, and also violated Court Contracts. Theres a reason why we have trials, and sentencing Courts, and Sentencing Guidelines through Due Process.. Sex Offender laws are vindictive and misuse of legislators power to attempt to change an outcome of the original sentencing courts. This is why certain sex crimes carry certain lengths of prison sentenced because is based on the severity of the crime, and evidence, and any variable factors involved. This is why crimes like Rape carry a min, and max sentence. This gives Courts, and Judges leeway at the point of sentencing on the above factors, and conditions. Legislators get mad because they cannot give longer sentences legally after a Judge rules, and the person does the time, and is released with all rights restored after Probation or Parole. The legislators take it up on themselves to be Judge, and Jury, pass additional laws, call it sex offender registration with the whole attempt to monitor, and re incarcerate a person again based off the same crime.
      Legislators please have faith in the Court Systems, and our Judges!!!! You are not above Judge, and Jury,,,,

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