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December 9, 2008

Tenth Circuit rejects various challenges to SORNA failure to register crime

Another circuit court has directly addressed various constitutional challenges to the federal crime of failing to register as a sex offender: yesterday the Tenth Circuit in US v. Lawrance, No. 08-6034 (10th Cir. Dec. 8, 2008) (available here) found the defendants claims unavailing.  Here is how the opinion begins:

Defendant-Appellant Keith Allen Lawrance appeals from his conviction for failing to register pursuant to the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”), 18 U.S.C. § 2250, enacted July 27, 2006.  Mr. Lawrance entered a conditional guilty plea to the indictment, reserving his right to appeal the district court’s order denying his motion to dismiss.  See United States v. Lawrance, No. CR-07-166-D, 2007 WL 5271934 (W.D. Okla. Sept. 5, 2007).  He was sentenced to fifteen months’ imprisonment and five years’ supervised released.  On appeal, he argues that the application of SORNA and its failure to register provisions to his case is unconstitutional because the statute violates (1) the Ex Post Facto Clause, (2) the Commerce Clause, and (3) the Due Process Clause.  Our jurisdiction arises under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and we affirm.

UPDATE:  Even more SORNA challenges go down in US v. Hinckley, No. 07-7107 (10th Cir. Dec. 9, 2008) (available here).  A concurrence and a dissent in Hinckley provide a potent reminder that these issues are subject to significant debate and will be subject to continuing litigation until the Supreme Court takes up one of these types of cases. 

In the meantime, Sex Crimes is the go-to blog for all the SORNA litigation updates and commentary.  Over there, Corey Yung has this post on the Tenth Circuit rulings and this post on a new district court SORNA ruling.  Notably, this new district court ruling from Florida, in US v. Myers, No. 08-cr-60064-WJZ (SD Fla. Dec. 9, 2008), hold that a prosecution under SORNA for failing to register is an unlawful extension of Commerce Clause authority.

December 9, 2008 at 08:38 AM | Permalink


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In neither opinion does the 10th Cir. address whether Title 42's registration requirements themselves are a valid exercise of the commerce clause. In fact, this is the issue that most district courts to find fault with SORNA have relied on.

Posted by: DEJ | Dec 10, 2008 3:11:07 PM

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