View decisions by the Federal Circuit States belong to.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
TAMPA — One day in September 2012, lawyer Michael Maddux walked out of a Hillsborough courtroom in shock. He couldn't believe what had just happened to his client, a middle-aged man with no criminal record who, prosecutors said, obsessively downloaded and categorized more child pornography than anyone else they had ever come across.
Peter Barnhill, 44, had more than 400,000 ghastly images on his hard drive. But there was no evidence he had ever touched a child, and he had passed a polygraph exam attesting to that. A psychologist who specializes in examining sex offenders pronounced him "low risk." Maddux thought his client might get, at most, five years in prison. Hillsborough Circuit Court Judge Chet A. Tharpe gave him 22.
"This child pornography phenomenon, if you will, is becoming an epidemic," Tharpe said in an emotional speech from the bench. There was a 50-50 chance that Barnhill would molest a child one day, he said, citing a study from 2011. "That is scary," he said. "We're not talking about a fantasy."
Months later, in a sharply worded decision that could affect whether Tharpe continues to hear child pornography cases, Florida's 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled that Barnhill would have to be resentenced, and by a different judge. The court faulted Tharpe for "abusing his discretion" by lumping Barnhill in with child molesters and rapists. The veteran jurist had implied that he would never consider giving a lighter sentence in a child pornography case, regardless of the facts.
"Even to the most casual observer, it could not be believed that Barnhill received a hearing in a dispassionate environment before a fair and impartial judge," the court wrote.
The decision was "en banc" or "entire bench," a rare unanimous ruling from all 13 appellate judges.
Friday, September 26, 2014
Wallace -v- State
In this case ("Wallace"),1 nine individuals ("Plaintiffs") claim that New York State sex offender registration requirements and residency restrictions punish them retroactively for offenses they already committed and, thus, violate the Ex Post Facto Clause of the Constitution (Article I, Section 9, Clause 3); and that similar residency restrictions under County and Town laws are not only unconstitutional, but preempted by state law. (Dkt. No. 5 ("Am. Compl.") ¶¶ 1-3.)
Plaintiffs also claim that, as a result of the County residency restrictions, they are, or have been, homeless and relegated to County-run trailers, subject to living conditions that infringe upon their Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection under the law. (Id. ¶¶ 45-46.)
Defendants—the State of New York (the "State")2; the County of Suffolk (the "County") and Susan Westergaard, in her official capacity on behalf of the Suffolk County Department of Social Services3 (the "County DSS") (collectively, the "County Defendants")4; Mark Epley, in his official capacity as Mayor on behalf of the Town of Southampton5 (the "Town")6; and Alexander Roberts, in his official capacity as Executive Director of Community Housing Innovations, Inc. ("CHI")—move the Court to dismiss the claims against them in the Wallace Complaint. (Dkt. Nos. 68-70; 79.)
For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants Defendants' motions in their entirety and dismisses the Wallace Complaint with prejudice, except Plaintiffs' state law preemption claims as to which the Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction and dismisses without prejudice.
See also: Judge Rejects Sex Offenders' Challenge to Residency Laws....NY Law Journal
Monday, September 22, 2014
Riley -v- NJ Parole Board
Sex offenders can not be subjected to punishments under newly created laws if they committed their offense and served their time before the legislation was passed, the state Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 decision Monday.
In 1986, George Riley was convicted of aggravated sexual assault on a minor and given a 20-year sentence. About six months after his release in 2009, when Riley was under no form of parole, the parole board said he would have to comply with the 2007 Sex Offender Monitoring Act meaning that he would have to wear an ankle bracelet form the rest of his life. He appealed the requirement of what he said was a new punishment constituting life time parole imposed after he had committed his act and after he served his prison term.
“A well established principle of ancient origin is that the Legislature cannot increase the punishment for a crime after it has been committed,” wrote Justice Barry Albin.
“Parole is a form of punishment under the constitution,” Albin wrote. “When applied to Riley, [the monitoring act] violates both the federal and state constitutional guarantees.”
The decision affirms an appeals court ruling that sided with Riley. The parole board argued that Riley should be subject to the ankle bracelet because the law mandated that someone in his risk category, which was determined to be high, must be subject to a monitoring bracelet.
Paille -v- Indiana
MUNCIE – A Muncie man convicted of sex crimes in Florida does not have to register locally as a sex offender, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled.
In a 3-0 ruling, the appeals court also ordered local authorities to dismiss two criminal charges pending against 44-year-old Michael Troy Paille that stemmed from his failure to register with the Delaware County Sheriff's Office.
In this month's decision, Judge Cale Bradford acknowledged that when Paille most recently was released from a Florida prison, in 2011, he was "required to register in Florida as a sex offender for at least 25 years."
However, because Paille's Florida crimes and convictions predated the 1994 enactment of Indiana's Sex Offender Registry Act, he is not required to register here, Bradford wrote. He noted a 2009 ruling by the Indiana Supreme Court that "the application of INSORA to crimes committed before INSORA's 1994 enactment was unconstitutional."