By Olivia Covington . . . Six men required to register as sex offenders after moving to Indiana can have their names removed from the sex offender registry, the 7th Circuit has held, finding that the state’s registration law discriminates between offenders who have consistently lived in Indiana and those who more recently moved into the state. A dissenting judge, however, disagreed with the majority’s holding that the registration law burdens the plaintiffs’ right to travel.
Judge Ilana Rovner authored the Wednesday opinion in Brian Hope, et al. v. Commissioner of Indiana Department of Correction, et al., 19-2523. Judge Diane Wood joined the majority opinion, while Judge Amy St. Eve dissented.
The case involves the required registration of six men — Brian Hope, Gary Snider, Adam Bash, Joseph Standish, Patrick Rice and Scott Rush — under the Indiana Sex Offender Registration Act. Each man committed their sex crimes 25 to 35 years ago, each was required to register as a sex offender in another state, and each relocated or returned to Indiana after serving their sentences.
SORA was enacted in 1994 and amended in 1996 to require registration by anyone convicted elsewhere of a state offense that was “substantially equivalent” to an Indiana offense requiring registration. The law was amended again in 2006, this time to apply to a “person who is required to register as a sex offender in any jurisdiction.”
In 2009, the Indiana Supreme Court handed down Wallace v. State, 905 N.E.2d 371 (Ind. 2009), holding that the requirements of SORA could not be imposed on anyone whose offenses predated the enactment of the statute. Thus, as long as a person whose offense predated SORA remained an Indiana resident, they were not required to register as a sex offender.
“This case is before us now, however, because, despite the Wallace decision, persons with pre-SORA convictions who relocate to Indiana from another state where registration was required or relocate from Indiana to another state requiring registration and then back again, must register in Indiana, even if Indiana would not have required them to register had they committed their offenses in Indiana and never left,” Rovner wrote.
Hope and Snider filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief in the Indiana Southern District Court, and Judge Richard Young entered the injunction in April 2017. That case was consolidated with one brought by Rice, Bash and Rush.