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McGuire -v- Strange

2-12-2015 Alabama:

McGuire -v- Strange

Michael A. McGuire was born in Montgomery, Alabama, where he graduated from high school in 1971. Eventually, he left the community for many years. In 2010, at the age of 57, he and his wife returned to his hometown to be with his aging mother and other family in the area. Unbeknownst to Mr. McGuire, his arrival coincided with the 2011 promulgation of the Alabama Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Act ("ASORCNA"). Ala. Code § 15-20A-1 et seq.

Mr. McGuire has one criminal conviction, a serious one: In 1985, he raped and otherwise assaulted his 30-year-old girlfriend of five years. In May 1986, he was convicted of sexual assault in a Colorado state court. Mr. McGuire spent his next three years in prison and a fourth year on parole, successfully completing his prison sentence. He then had a multi-decade career as a hair stylist and jazz musician in the Washington, D.C. area. Prior to relocating to Montgomery in 2010, he had never been required to register as a sex offender. He was, in his brother's words, "a free American." (Trial Tr. I, at 14.)

After resettling in his hometown and on the advice of his brother, a local attorney, Mr. McGuire voluntarily visited the Montgomery Police Department to inquire about the scope of Alabama's sex-offender laws, hoping to confirm his belief that he would not be subject to the state's restrictions. That belief was erroneous by multiples. Mr. McGuire now lives homeless and unemployed under a bridge in his hometown. Pursuant to ASORCNA, he is required to register as a homeless sex offender in-person at both the City of Montgomery Police Department and the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department every week. In fact, for the rest of his life, he is subject to the most comprehensive, debilitating sex-offender scheme in the land, one that includes not only most of the restrictive features used by various other jurisdictions, but also unique additional requirements and restrictions nonexistent elsewhere, at least in this form. He challenges ASORCNA as violating the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution.

The court held a four-day bench trial and received post-trial briefing on the constitutional issue. This opinion constitutes the court's findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52.

... ... ... ...


For the foregoing reasons, it is ORDERED and DECLARED that ASORCNA is unconstitutional under the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution to the extent that it requires
  • (1) in-town homeless registrants to register (or check-in) on a weekly basis with two separate law-enforcement jurisdictions as provided by § 15-20A-12(b) in conjunction with § 15-20A-4(13) and
  • (2) all in-town registrants to complete travel permit applications with two separate law-enforcement jurisdictions as provided by § 15-20A-15 in conjunction with § 15-20A-4(13).

It is further ORDERED that the Attorney General's oral Motion to Strike and Defendants' oral Motions for Judgment as a Matter of Law are DENIED AS MOOT.

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