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US v Juvenile Male

US Sup ct held case was moot. Decisions within blog: SCOTUS Blog Holding: The Ninth Circuit lacked authority to hold that the requirements of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) violate the Constitution's Ex Post Facto Clause when applied to a juvenile who was adjudicated delinquent under the Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act before SORNA's enactment. At the time of the Ninth Circuit's decision, respondent's challenge was moot because the district court's order of juvenile supervision had expired, and respondent was no longer subject to the sex-offender-registration provisions that he challenged on appeal. Holding: The Ninth Circuit lacked authority to hold that the requirements of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) violate the Constitution's Ex Post Facto Clause when applied to a juvenile who was adjudicated delinquent under the Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act before SORNA's enactment. At the time of the Ninth Circuit's decision, respondent's challenge was moot because the district court's order of juvenile supervision had expired, and respondent was no longer subject to the sex-offender-registration provisions that he challenged on appeal.
9-10-2009 Montana:

US v Juvenile Male
581 F.3d 977 (2009)

See Amended 1-5-2010
US v Juvenile Male
590 F.3d 924 (2010)

As a society, we generally refuse to punish our nation's youth as harshly as we do our fellow adults, or to hold them to the same level of culpability as people who are older, wiser, and more mature. The avowed priority of our juvenile justice system (in theory if not always in practice) has, historically, been rehabilitation rather than retribution. Juvenile proceedings by and large take place away from the public eye, and delinquency adjudications do not become part of a young person's permanent criminal record. Rather, young offenders, except those whose conduct a court deems deserving of treatment as adults, are classified as juvenile delinquents and placed in juvenile detention centers. Historically, an essential aspect of the juvenile justice system has been to maintain the privacy of the young offender and, contrary to our criminal law system, to shield him from the "dissemination of truthful information" and "[t]ransparency" that characterizes the punitive system in which we try adults. Compare 18 U.S.C. § 5038(e) ("[N]either the name nor picture of any juvenile shall be made public in connection with a juvenile delinquency proceeding.") with Smith v. Doe,538 U.S. 84, 99, 123 S.Ct. 1140, 155 L.Ed.2d 164 (2003) ("[O]ur criminal law tradition insists on public indictment, public trial, and public imposition of sentence.").

In a surge of national concern, however, over the commission of sex offenses, particularly those against children, Congress in 2006 enacted the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act ("SORNA" or "the Act") and applied its registration and reporting requirements not only to adults but also to juveniles who commit certain serious sex offenses at the age of fourteen years or older. The Attorney General, exercising authority delegated by Congress, determined that SORNA would apply retroactively to all sex offenders convicted of qualifying offenses before its enactment, including juvenile delinquents. 28 C.F.R. § 72.3 (2007).

The retroactive application of SORNA's juvenile registration provision affects people of all ages—not only juveniles. As we are still close in time to SORNA's passage, some, like S.E., were adjudicated delinquent relatively recently and are still minors or young adults. The vast majority of persons affected, however, were adjudicated delinquent years or even decades before SORNA's enactment and quite obviously are no longer juveniles. Indeed, the brunt of SORNA's retroactive application to juvenile offenders is felt mainly by adults who committed offenses long ago as teenagers—many of whom have built families, homes, and careers notwithstanding their history of juvenile delinquency, which before SORNA's enactment was not a matter of public record. For these adults, sex offender registration and reporting threatens to disrupt the stability of their lives and to ostracize them from their communities by drawing attention to decades-old sex offenses committed as juveniles that have, until now, remained sealed. Although from this point forward no new individuals will be affected by the retroactivity provision, its effects will be felt by numerous individuals for the rest of their adult lives.1

We must decide as a matter of first impression—in our court and in any other circuit court—whether the retroactive application of SORNA's provision covering individuals who were adjudicated juvenile delinquents because of the commission of certain sex offenses before SORNA's passage violates the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution. In light of the pervasive and severe new and additional disadvantages that result from the mandatory registration of former juvenile offenders and from the requirement that such former offenders report in person to law enforcement authorities every 90 days for 25 years, and in light of the confidentiality that has historically attached to juvenile proceedings, we conclude that the retroactive application of SORNA's provisions to former juvenile offenders is punitive and, therefore, unconstitutional.2

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