Unfavorable Decision in the Hearn Case

Hearn v. Castilleja

(Filed by Attorney Richard Gladden)

Today, May 27, 2020, I and my clients Jack, Donnie and Jimmy, received a final judgment and opinion from the U.S. District Court in Austin which ruled against us, and in favor of the State of Texas, in our civil rights case challenging the constitutionality of lifetime registration. The Court’s decision is posted along with this comment.

As many of you are aware our constitutional claim rested on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Santobello v. New York. In Santobello the Supreme Court ruled a state violates substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment when it breaches a plea bargain agreement with a criminal defendant. In our case the State of Texas did just that: it changed state law to require Jack, Donnie and Jimmy to register for life, long after they accepted a plea bargain agreement in their criminal cases. The negotiated terms of their plea agreements, at the time of they were induced to waive their constitutional rights to a fair trial, either provided they would not be required to register at all, or that they would only be required to register until they completed their probation.

Today the U.S. District Court in our case ruled against us on two, and only two, issues. First, the Court correctly ruled contract principles generally apply to our constitutional breach of plea claim. However, to our surprise, the Court further ruled that a valid breach of contract claim, as well as our constitutional claim based on Santobello, requires an aggrieved person to prove the consequences of the breach resulted in a criminal “punishment”  being imposed against him. Most of us are familiar that rule applies to Ex Post Facto claims. However, I am unaware of any case that recognizes such a principle in contract law, or any case that has interpreted Santobello in this way in the plea bargain context.

Second, the Court ruled the applicable two-year statute of limitations barred our claims because more than two years elapsed between the point in time that Jack, Donnie and Jimmy “knew or should have known” their rights were violated (some 20 years ago), and the point in time that we filed our lawsuit (in 2018). Our position is, and has been throughout this case, that the “continuing violation doctrine” adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 overruled the “knew or should have known” doctrine for purposes of determining whether a claim is barred by a statute of limitations. Based on that decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit likewise overruled the “knew or should have known” doctrine in 2017. Unfortunately, the District Court in our case, we believe, overlooked this fact. Instead, it based its statute of limitations ruling on an unpublished (and therefore non-precedential) case that was decided by the Fifth Circuit 1998, 19 years before that unpublished case was effectively overruled by the Fifth Circuit’s subsequent decision in 2017.

While the District Court’s decision in our case today is disappointing, and unexpected  given Judge Yeakel’s long and well-deserved reputation for getting things right, we consider this merely a bump in the road, and far from the end of our case. I’ve been here before, and I’ve learned ultimate success, which is just around the corner, can be delayed in this way. Having discussed this matter with Jack, Donnie, and Jimmy, we intend to appeal from this decision.

Although the appellate process may require another year or so to complete, we are confident we will prevail in the end. It is also our intention to keep all TVRJ members apprised of any significant developments in the case going forward. With Mary Sue’s assistance, we will do that by sharing those updates, if any, here.

Thanks to all of you who have generously given us support in this fight so far, and to those who have patiently waited anxiously with us hoping for a better outcome. The fight goes on.

Richard Gladden

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  • Author
    • #73089 Reply
      Tim in WI

      It comes down to what “lawfully” constitutes a breach in Tx. If an appeal is mounting ” a record” of the original terms must already be in place. What is in the record that concretely describes the ” cost” to the plaintiff’s liberty or property?Plaintiff’s have to burden to prove bad faith by the people

      The state & defendant fulfilled their agreement to the last day. However that doesn’t prohibit Congress from doing their duty- to serve by author of bills. Naturally as a consequence, an AG acting in good faith would engage in enforcement.but only after signature by Governor.

      This is precisely why IMHO it is best to implicate ” registration” as “Plain old indenture” as described in the 13th. Free men are paid to maintain machine database property. Even the government’s. Are men not paid a small wage to maintain prison property?

    • #73195 Reply
      Ed C

      I found it interesting that the Court described the plaintiff’s continuing violation argument to be “innovative.” The Court viewed the 10-year and lifetime registration disabilities to have happened at discrete points in time, i.e. when the new laws imposed registration requirements–“The fight is distinguishing between a continuing violation and a single violation with continuing impact.” While that may be true, it is also true that each registration event represents a distinct deprivation of liberty in that Hearn is required to periodically present himself before the authorities.

      The imposition of a registration requirement did not in itself (ex post facto aside) rise to the level of a constitutional violation. So arguing that as the issue may be futile. However, this is not a case of “a single violation with continuing impact.” Rather, it is an endless periodic series of constitutional violations. Deprivation of liberty began at the moment Hearn first appeared at the sheriff’s office to register, and these “continuing violation[s]” persist to this day.

    • #73196 Reply
      Capt Charles Munsey Jr. USN Ret

      The legal system in today’s world comes down to ‘everybody is in charge and nobody is in charge’. Justice seems to be dependent on what side of the bed the judge wakes up on in the morning. How can common sense abe respect for fellow citizens become so skewed?

    • #73197 Reply

      1.) Breach of contract simply means non-performance by the contractor, right? It does not hinge on the contractee sustaining damage (such as a criminal punishment or anything else). Have I got that right?

      2.)Stare Decisis depends on temporality, right? So the newer case should have prevailed. Plus, the older case was unpublished and, therefore, not as persuasive.

      I think that’s easy for even a non lawyer to see, if I have my facts right.

      Can a US District Court judge be censured for blatant (gross) malpractice?

    • #73227 Reply

      This is one of the very systems that must undergo a change to it. I cannot imagine how many complaints or grievances have been filed in regards to the court system or how the body of judges could swing from one side to another even though evidence and law (factual) states what harm was being done. Now this person must wait another year or so with latches attached to him in regards to the registry. It saddens me.
      I knew a registered citizen who took his fight from the state court to the federal and almost made it to the top. He based his claim on actual innocence with evidence in support if his claim. He was legally barred and the one of the judges took the side of the alleged victims stating that the alleged victim must have been so dis truant that they may have not been able to be reliable because of fear.
      In other words, besides going around the cause, they agreed that the plea should stand despite evidence claiming the contrary.
      A breach of contract is a breach and in criminal court cases there are so many loopholes. The system needs to be revamped. I hope this case gets addressed quickly and in favor of the plaintiff Santobello. Good Luck guys !!!!!

    • #73445 Reply

      That Judge, is most likely up for Reelection. That’s why he ruled as he did. So the way I see it, corruption was at it’s finest when he ruled as he did. The entire Registry System is Rigged from top to bottom and is continually being Re-rigged such that it may-if not already is-unbreakable by any means Legal or Not! Let’s not forget the fact that in so many of cases, the clause ‘Ex Post Facto’, is thrown out of the window, because some Judges just don’t want to Interpret Laws as they should from the Get-Go. Attorneys for The State almost always find corrupt ways and means of getting their arguments heard and suppressing ANY kind of Evidence that would totally sink theirs right on the spot and they know it!
      I hope they keep on fighting and keep on Appealing until they DO WIN!

    • #73521 Reply

      Why can’t we bring this case in my state, my nephew has signed his papers saying, “he signs in protest” since they started his lifetime registration? He has continuously made them aware of the fact that they without due process extended his sentencing guidelines. The only answer besides what the lawyer told him about taking it to court was what the State Police office said to him, “We made a mistake, and we corrected it.” I’m almost sure they have done this to others here extending their registration without reason or even a second thought as to the true legislative powers given. His previous lawyer told him that he could take it to court but it would cost upwards of $15,000 and obviously he doesn’t have that money. His previous lawyer also told him by everything he reviewed that he did not belong on the registry anymore. He even has proof of the misconduct but without a lawyer and the ability to prove it in a court, no relief from such misconduct is permissible. Why can’t my nephews case be a starting case for change?

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