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Czyzewski v New Hampshire Department of Safety

6-7-2013 New Hampshire:

Czyzewski v New Hampshire Department of Safety (PDF Copy)

In Czyzewski v. New Hampshire Department of Safety, decided today, the Court provided a classic example – and a very defensible example – of how Courts will literally ignore the language of a statute in order to reach a desired result.

Czyzewski tried to induce a 13 year old who he met on the internet to engage in sexual activity with him – a serious sex crime. It is a serious crime, even though there was no 13 year old. The “child” was a police officer engaged in a sting operation, chatting away online and pretending he was a sexually-vulnerable 13 year old.

After conviction for the crime of attempted sexual assault, the State of New Hampshire ordered defendant to register as a sex offender. Czyzewski fought this Order in Court, seeking a declaratory judgment that he did not have to register because the registration statute required sex offender registration for the crime of sexual assault only “‘where the victim was under [the age of] 18 at the time of the offense.” Czyzewski argued that because there was no victim, but rather an adult police officer who was not under the age of 18, he should not have to register under the plain language of the statute.

The unanimous Court disagreed, essentially ignoring the language of the statute, based on the reasoning that the legislature could not possibly have meant what it said because the legislature also criminalized attempt crimes that do not involve any actual victim.

The Court, in my opinion, is right. Contrary to the view of Justice Scalia that Courts should limit themselves to so-called “textual” analysis… and contrary to the famous and simplistic claim of Chief Justice Roberts that Judges merely “call balls and strikes” … Courts have a difficult job. Courts must determine the intent of the legislature in enacting a law. Courts must use their judgment, not just mindlessly adhere to the “plain language” of a law, because legislative bodies cannot possibly anticipate every fact pattern that might arise in the future. In this case, the Court’s decision is sensible and without doubt adheres to the legislative intent in enacting the sex offender registry law, even if it strays from the literal language the legislature chose. ..Source.. by Ted Lothstein.



NH court says convicted sex offender must register

6-5-2013 New Hampshire:

The New Hampshire Supreme Court says a man convicted of attempted sexual assault must register as a sex offender, rejecting his argument that there wasn’t an actual assault or victim.

Justin Czyzewski, 28, was convicted in October 2009 based on online conversations with an undercover detective he believed to be a 13-year-old girl.

New Hampshire law requires all persons convicted of sex crimes involving victims under age 18 to register as sex offenders wherever they live. Czyzewski now lives in Drexel Hill, Pa., and is listed in that state’s sex offender registry.

Czyzewski appealed the trial judge’s ruling denying his request for a declaration that he does not have to register. The Supreme Court’s unanimously upheld that ruling in its decision released Wednesday.

Czyzewski argued that he doesn’t fall within the registration requirements because his attempt involved a police officer and not an actual child.

The court ruled the law was not intended to give a break to convicts who take ‘‘a substantial step in targeting an ‘actual victim’ but do not complete the crime.’’

‘‘There is no indication in the statute that the legislature intended either to categorize attempt crimes in this way or to benefit a category of manifestly dangerous criminals for no other reason that the fortuitous fact that their intended victims turned out to be undercover police officers,’’ Justice Gary Hicks wrote.

Czyzewski’s lawyer, Philip Desfosses, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. ..Source.. by Boston.com

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