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Reynolds v US

11-2-2009 Pennsylvania:

Reynolds v US
132 S.Ct. 975 (2012)
181 L. Ed. 2d 935

Third Circuit Decision Appealed From:
US v Reynolds

On Remand from the US Sup court see below where it says ON REMAND:

The federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (Act), 120 Stat. 590, 42 U.S.C. § 16901 et seq. (2006 ed. and Supp. III), requires those convicted of certain sex crimes to provide state governments with (and to update) information, such as names and current addresses, for inclusion on state and federal sex offender registries. §§ 16912(a), 16913-16914, 16919(a) (2006 ed.). The Act makes it a crime for a person who is "required to register" under the Act and who "travels in interstate or foreign commerce" knowingly to "fai[l] to register or update a registration...." 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a). The question before us concerns the date on which this federal registration requirement took effect with respect to sex offenders convicted before the Act became law.

The Act defines the term "sex offender" as including these pre-Act offenders. 42 U.S.C. § 16911(1); see Carr v. United States, 560 U.S. ___, ___, 130 S.Ct. 2229, 2235-2236, 176 L.Ed.2d 1152 (2010). It says that "[a] sex offender shall register." § 16913(a). And it further says that "[t]he Attorney General shall have the authority to specify the applicability of the [registration] requirements ... to sex offenders convicted before the enactment of this chapter...." § 16913(d) (emphasis added). In our view, these provisions, read together, mean that the Act's registration requirements do not apply to pre-Act offenders until the Attorney General specifies that they do apply. We reverse a Court of Appeals determination that, in effect, holds the contrary.

... ... ...

Finally, we note that some lower courts have read the Attorney General's specification authority as applying only to those pre-Act sex offenders unable to comply with the statute's "initial registration" requirements. See 42 U.S.C. § 16913(b). That, however, is not what the statute says. Rather, its Fourth Statement, § 16913(d), says that the Attorney General has the authority (1) to specify the applicability of the registration requirements to pre-Act (and preimplementation) offenders, "and" (2) to prescribe rules for their registration, "and" (3) to prescribe registration rules for other categories of sex offenders who are unable to comply with the initial registration requirements. See supra, at 979. The word "and" means that the Attorney General's authority extends beyond those pre-Act "sex offenders who are unable to comply" with the initial registration requirements.

For these reasons, we conclude that the Act's registration requirements do not apply to pre-Act offenders until the Attorney General so specifies. Whether the Attorney General's Interim Rule sets forth a valid specification consequently matters in the case before us. And we reverse the Third Circuit's judgment to the contrary.

We remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
So ordered.

From here down is on remand from the US Sup Court:

This case returns to us after the Supreme Court's review in Reynolds v. United States, 132 S.Ct. 975 (2012). Remand requires that we reach the merits of Reynolds's claim that the regulatory rule upon which his indictment was based was promulgated in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"). This claim gives rise to three questions: (1) What is the appropriate standard of review of an agency's assertion of good cause in waiving the APA's notice and comment requirements? (2) Did the Attorney General have good cause to waive these requirements in promulgating a rule governing the retroactivity of the Sex Offender and Registration Notification Act's ("SORNA") registration requirements? (3) If the Attorney General lacked good cause to waive the requirements, was Reynolds prejudiced by the failure to comply with the APA's notice and comment requirements?

The courts of appeals are divided on each of these questions. On the first question, the Fifth and Eleventh Circuits have determined that the arbitrary and capricious standard is the appropriate standard for reviewing the Attorney General's actions, the Fourth and Sixth Circuits have not stated a standard but appear to use de novo review, and the Ninth Circuit has explicitly avoided the question.1 On the second question, the Fourth and Eleventh Circuits have held that the Attorney General had good cause to waive notice and comment, while the Fifth, Sixth, and Ninth Circuits have held that he did not.2 On the final question, the Fifth Circuit has held that the Attorney General's lack of good cause does not prejudice defendants, while the Sixth Circuit has held that it is prejudicial.3

We conclude that we need not decide the appropriate standard of review today because the Attorney General's assertion of good cause cannot withstand review even under the most deferential standard available. We also conclude that the Attorney General's lack of good cause is prejudicial to Reynolds. Accordingly, we will vacate Reynolds' conviction.

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