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Smith v State

2-10-2009 Idaho:

Smith v State

203 P.3d 1221 (2009)


Jason Smith was incarcerated for the 1998 rape of a fifteen-year-old girl. Prior to his release, he was referred to the Sexual Offender Classification Board (the Board or SOCB) to determine whether he should be classified as a violent sexual predator (VSP). The Board classified Smith as a VSP. Smith sought judicial review of that decision. After conducting an evidentiary hearing, the district court upheld the Board's decision. We conclude Smith's designation was not constitutionally sound and, therefore, reverse and remand with instructions to vacate Smith's designation as a VSP.

... ... ...


When information upon which the VSP designation is based is withheld from an offender it cannot be said that there is either notice or a meaningful opportunity to be heard. The procedures afforded by the statute must comport with constitutional standards of procedural due process.
[F]airness can rarely be obtained by secret, one-sided determination of facts decisive of rights .... [s]ecrecy is not congenial to truth-seeking and self-righteousness gives too slender an assurance of rightness. No better instrument has been devised for arriving at truth than to give a person in jeopardy of serious loss notice of the case against him and opportunity to meet it.
Goss v. Lopez, 419 U.S. 565, 580, 95 S.Ct. 729, 739, 42 L.Ed.2d 725, 738 (1975) (quoting Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Comm. v. McGrath,341 U.S. 123, 170, 171-72, 71 S.Ct. 624, 648-49, 95 L.Ed. 817, 853-54 (1951) (Frankfurter, J., concurring)). As this Court has previously stated, a "`Kafkaesque chain of secrecy is not what the Due Process Clause contemplates.' See F. Kafka, THE TRIAL (1956)." H & V, 113 Idaho at 651, 747 P.2d at 60 (quoting Ridge v. Police & Firefighters Retirement & Relief Bd.,511 A.2d 418, 425, n. 11 (D.C.1986)).

The statutory scheme for VSP designation is constitutionally infirm. The district court did not succeed in fashioning an ad hoc remedy to the invalid statute. Until Smith has the benefit of his constitutional right to notice and an opportunity to be heard, the State may not designate him as a VSP. Accordingly, we reverse the decision of the district court and remand this matter to the district court with direction to vacate Smith's designation as a VSP.

ID justices lift man's violent sex predator label

2-11-2009 Idaho:

BOISE, Idaho – The Idaho Supreme Court says the state's method of classifying violent sexual predators is unconstitutional and has ordered that the label be removed from a man who admitted four rapes.

Tuesday's ruling from a divided court came in the case of Jason C. Smith, who was sent to prison for the 1998 rape of a 15-year-old girl in Twin Falls County.

Before his release in 2005, Smith was referred to the Sexual Offender Classification Board to determine if he should be classified as a violent sexual predator, according to the ruling. The board - after reviewing a psychosexual evaluation and other tests - decided he was likely to commit more crimes in the future and should be considered a violent sexual predator.

Smith asked for a judicial review of the classification, and after an evidentiary hearing, 5th District Judge John Hohnhorst upheld the label.

But the Supreme Court disagreed, saying that Idaho's laws dictating how violent sexual predators are classified are "constitutionally infirm" because they don't give offenders an adequate chance to fight the board's decision.

"Smith's history of violent deviant sexual behavior is such that the Board's designation as a VSP may well be warranted," Justice Joel Horton wrote for the majority, which also included Justices Roger Burdick and Jim Jones. "The important question presented by this appeal, however, is not whether he deserves that label. Rather, the question that is the focal point of this Court's inquiry is whether the State of Idaho has labeled Smith as a VSP in a fashion that comports with his constitutional right to due process."

Smith's criminal history extends over several years. In 1990, when he was 14, Smith pleaded guilty to lewd conduct with a minor for raping a 5-year-old boy that he was baby-sitting and was ordered to complete a sex offender treatment program. In 1993, a second victim came forward and Smith pleaded guilty to one count of male rape. In that case, Smith was sentenced as an adult to 30 days in county jail and then committed to the custody of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare until age 21.

In 1998, the then-21-year-old Smith pleaded guilty to raping a 15-year-old girl. At the time, he was on probation for burglary and was sentenced to eight years in prison and ordered to serve at least three years before he could be eligible for parole.

In 2005, Smith admitted to raping a third young boy before 1990, though that case has never been charged, according to the ruling. Smith testified that he only admitted to the rape because he had to complete a polygraph test.

Receiving a violent sexual predator designation is a scarlet letter, Horton said. Violent sexual predators must update their address and photograph with the state every 90 days, instead of the annual update required of other sex offenders. Additionally, they are required to remain on the registry as violent sexual predators for life. Other sex offenders can petition to be released from the registration requirements after 10 years.

Other than submitting to the mandatory psychosexual evaluation, offenders don't have any chance to provide input to the board that makes the classification decision, Horton said. Instead, offenders can only ask for judicial review after the fact, and the rules of evidence don't apply to the review.

"While both parties may introduce evidence, neither party is provided with the record utilized by the Board to make its determination," Horton said.

Instead, they are only given a written summary of the information the board used and they can get documents that would be accessible by other means - such as previous court records. Any records that contain witness or victim names or statements, any reports prepared as part of the parole determination process, and any other "confidential" records are withheld from the offender, his attorney and even the prosecutor under state law, Horton said.

"Without Smith or his counsel having the opportunity to respond to, much less review, the conclusions of the psychosexual evaluator, this court and the district court are asked to accept, at face value, the damning conclusions of this evaluation," Horton said.

Justices Warren Jones and Daniel Eismann dissented, saying Smith failed to raise any constitutional challenges to the violent sexual predator statutes for the high court to consider.

Warren Jones also held that Smith wasn't denied due process when the district court reviewed his classification, because since Smith never asked for the restricted information, the court never actually denied him access to it. ..News Source.. by REBECCA BOONE

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