Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejects SORNA challenge

By Larry . . . In these consolidated appeals, Commonwealth v. Lacombe and Commonwealth v. Witmayer, the Commonwealth (state) challenged orders of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas relieving appellees Claude Lacombe and Michael Witmayer of their duties to comply with Subchapter I of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. To achieve its dual goals of ensuring public…

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PA Supreme Court sends Commonwealth v. Torsilieri back to local court

Originally published at parsol.org; reprinted in full with permission. By Josiah . . . The PA Supreme Court (SCOPA) filed their opinions on Com. v. George Torsilieri on June 16 regarding the constitutionality of PA’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) Revised Subchapter H. Mr. Torsilieri and his attorneys argued that SORNA is based on outdated legislative findings and…

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An encouraging win in Pennsylvania

By Larry . . . T.S. v. Pennsylvania State Police was just decided by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. The Commonwealth Court is the intermediate court of appeals which leaves open the door for the state to seek review in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. This case has the potential to remove a significant number of people from the state’s sex…

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The importance of Gundy v. U.S.

By Peter J. Wallison . . . Gundy v. United States is not listed in most media accounts of important matters now before the Supreme Court, yet this case could profoundly change how courts intervene to preserve the constitutional separation of powers in the future. Involving just one individual petitioner, Herman Avery Gundy, and only one issue — how to interpret…

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Pennsylvania and SORNA: Take two

By Aaron J. Marcus . . . Two years ago, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court shook up long-settled orthodoxy by ruling that the state’s sex offender registration law, otherwise known as SORNA (Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act) was punishment. The case, Commonwealth v. Muniz, 164 A.3d 1189 (Pa. 2018), presented the Court with two questions: whether people who committed their crimes before the…

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Appeals court provides new vehicle to challenge registration

By Larry . . . We are excited to report that registrants in Pennsylvania now will have a new vehicle to challenge sex offender registration. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Court handed down a precedential decision on February 27th that has the potential to be significant going forward. See Piasecki v. Court of Common Pleas,…

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How Big Money Stymies S.O. Reform

By Michael M . . . When SORNA (Sex Offender Registration Notification Act, aka Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006) required the states to establish comprehensive minimum standards for their state sex offender registries, it created an unfunded mandate that left many states scrambling to comply or lose Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) funding…

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The abomination of the sex offender registry

By Jesse Kelley . . . The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that at least 95 percent of all state prisoners will be released from prison at some point. However, convicted sex-offenders almost exclusively face the vengeful, additional punishment of registration under the Sex Offender Registry and Notification Act (SORNA). Generally, under SORNA, an individual who is required to register as a sex…

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Pennsylvania Legislature attempts to “fix” unconstitutional law

By Paula Reed Ward . . . A bill introduced this week in Harrisburg attempts to fix flaws in the state’s sex-offender registration system identified in a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision in July and could affect more than 10,000 registrants. Bill sponsor Rep. Ron Marsico, R-Dauphin, called it “imperative” to amend the law. “We have worked hard to come up with a…

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PA’s “sexually violent predator” process ruled unconstitutional

By Eric Scicchitano . . . A panel of appellate judges ruled last week that Pennsylvania’s established process to designate a convicted sex offender as a “sexually violent predator” is unconstitutional. The Superior Court decision in a Butler County case found that the process — the designation carries lifetime registry and counseling under the state’s Megan’s Law — should not…

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