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June 17, 2009

Missouri Supreme Court rules that federal sex offender registration requirement trumps state limits

This local article, headlined "Ruling to force sex offenders' names back on Missouri registry," provides a report on the significant impact of a ruling from the MIssouri Supreme Court concerning what sex offenders must register with the state:

Thousands of Missouri sex offenders will have to put their names back on the state registry after a ruling Tuesday by the state Supreme Court.  The offenders — including roughly 600 in Jackson County alone — were wiped from the registry in late June 2006.  The court at the time said the Missouri Constitution didn’t allow for laws to be enforced retroactively, so only offenders convicted after the law took effect in January 1995 had to comply.

But the state judges unanimously ruled Tuesday that sex offenders must obey a federal law that went into effect about a month after that 2006 ruling. The federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act requires all offenders, regardless of when they were convicted, to register.  The federal law “imposes an independent obligation requiring respondents to register as sex offenders in Missouri,” the judges wrote.

Law enforcement authorities across the state, including Attorney General Chris Koster, applauded the ruling. Koster said the registry was designed to protect the community from offenders and the “court’s ruling supports that goal.”  Former Jackson County Sheriff Tom Phillips, a defendant in a lawsuit filed by sex offenders, said the intent of the law was for all offenders to register, not just some.  “I think that’s what people want,” Phillips said. “Hopefully now that will go into place. … If the laws weren’t clear as to who should and who shouldn’t register, this should clear that up.”

The court ruled Tuesday in the case of 10 convicted Jackson County sex offenders who argued that they were not required to register because of the Missouri Constitution’s protection against retrospective laws.

The brief opinion from the Missouri Supreme Court can be accessed at this link.

June 17, 2009 at 10:00 AM | Permalink


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So sex offenders killed federalism? Isn't the court just ceding the the sovereign power of Missouri to the congress?

Posted by: KRG | Jun 17, 2009 12:49:19 PM

I agree with KRG, and I'm really confused by this opinion (available here http://www.courts.mo.gov/file.asp?id=32630). SORNA is imposed on the states through the Spending Clause: states must enact state laws that substantially implement federal directives, or lose certain grant money. SORNA is only directly applicable in federal jurisdictions (and even, some would say, on shakey Commerce Clause footing there). 42 USC 16925(b) even has an exception for a the substantial implementation requirement when the federal directive would require violation of a state consitution. Am I missing something?

Posted by: JMM | Jun 18, 2009 9:59:32 AM

This decision is illogical. The name of the case is John Doe v. Keathly. But, dear perplexed reader, read Doe v. Blunt, 225 S.W.3d 421 (Mo.banc 2007)Per curiam. which holds the opposite. So does Doe v. Phillips, 194 S.W.3d 833 (Mo. banc 2006). (The Doe family seems to stay up s--- creek in Missouri)

The John Doe affected here is complaining about the state law requiring him to register. The state law was passed after his offense was entered as a conviction.
Missouri appellate courts have a practice of stating things with little explanation and seldom give lip service to a federal constitutional provision or federal case upholding a federal constitutional provision. They remain "unreconstructed". The present case presents a new twist. Its the federal law requiring registration. Really? Disingenuous. Please dear readers, (Doe family included because it affects you) examine this decision and explain it if makes any logical sense. It seems that the liberal Does and federalist Does might agree on this subject.

Posted by: mpb | Jun 18, 2009 12:08:00 PM

Maybe I am missing something. A Fourth Circuit opinion this afternoon, US v. Gould, http://pacer.ca4.uscourts.gov/dailyopinions/opinion.pdf/084302.P.pdf, has a similar read on SORNA's applicability.

Posted by: JMM | Jun 18, 2009 5:47:43 PM

I agree that on its face this seems illogical. I mean, I guess the feds could create some sort of federal registry (and federal law would apply to the retroactivity/ex post facto arguments against forced registration on that list), but I don't see how the feds can directly require certain state offenders to register on a Missouri (state) list.

I think the Fourth Circuit case is distinguishable; it is a federal prosecution under SORNA, and appears to rely on the fact that even before SORNA, the defendant had been required to register in Maryland. Here, the defendant was not required to register in Missouri, and would not be so required absent the Missouri Supreme Court's interpretation of SORNA. But that interpretation makes no sense in light of SORNA's clear statement that no state shall be required to implement SORNA in a way that violates its constitution.

At any rate, federal law is supreme, but a *condition* on receipt of federal funds is not supreme vis a vis a State Constitution. I mean, if Congress said any state that provides Free Speech protection that is broader than the First Amendment will lose funding for State public service announcement campaigns, would the California Supreme Court suddenly have to overrule its Free Speech jurisprudence? That can't be right. It should be up to the state legislatures and/or the people to make the decision to either change state law or forego federal dollars. State Supreme Courts should not consider the possible collateral loss of federal funds as a factor in saying what State law means.

I wonder if this is headed to the (US) Supreme Court.

Posted by: Glad I am not a sex offender trying to figure this stuff out... | Jun 19, 2009 11:01:25 AM

On a sort-of-related note, North Carolina's court of appeals held this week that satellite-based monitoring of certain sex offenders is not punishment, and thus does not implicate the Ex Post Facto Clause. http://www.aoc.state.nc.us/www/public/coa/opinions/2009/080818-1.htm

Posted by: JMM | Jun 19, 2009 3:48:28 PM

sadly to say but if your a sex offender your name should never be wiped clean, you are the scum on this planet and deserve to die

Posted by: debt relief | Jun 22, 2009 1:36:06 PM

Is there any standing for spouses to challenge the retroactivity? I know they claim it is non punitive, but seriously, what about a spouse who entered into marriage, had children, bought property, has children in private schools, etc. with someone who had a sealed offense from 20 years ago and was not required to register? The spouse entered contracts that are now going to be clouded by the retroactive registration - what right does the government have to put the SPOUSE's home address in the sex offender registry when that was not a condition the spouse could evaluate prior to the marriage???

Posted by: Ace | Jun 22, 2009 3:03:57 PM

I agree with Ace. I am in that exact situation. I would like to know what rights I have here. My rights are being taken away here. I have a point that I want to make here because everything I have read and apparently in the Missouri legislation, somebody has failed to bring this to light.

If a person committed a crime before 1995 and has not had to register is so likely to re-offend, then why hasn't said person committed another crim after 1995 that would require them to register? It's been 14 years for crying out loud. If a sex offender is so hard to rehabilitate and so likely to re-offend, then somewhere in the last 14 years they would have done so rith? In turn, making them required to register because the law would have been in effect when the crime was committed.

I can't imagine I'm the only person to have thought of this. Why, with the powers that be, has this not been brought to light?

Posted by: Sarah | Jun 29, 2009 8:23:38 AM

My son met a girl when he was 19, several girls in one car and several boys in another. This girl showed interest in him and told him she was 16. My son had used drugs and alcohol (long story here) and was very immature, still is. He saw her over a few weeks and there was some sexual contact, no intercourse. upon taking her home one afternoon, some one at her home keyed passenger's side of his new car. He noticed this when he returned to his father's home. He got mad and returned to her home, no one would come outside to talk to him. He threw a rock at the house and broke a window. Her mother didn't just press charges on the window, she tried to get him for rape. The girl's police statement says she didn't understand why her mother was doing this. The pros. attny. told my son if he took this to trial he would lose and go to prison so he made a deal which did not include being on as "LIST".
He moved to Florida, what a mistake, and had to go on the "list" there as he fit their criteria. He has since lost his wife, his job, been harassed by neighbors, and has thought of ending his life. All this over a lie and a broken window.

So where is the fairness in this???

Posted by: Susan | Jul 7, 2009 9:31:39 AM

To JMM who said that " if your a sex offender your name should never be wiped clean, you are the scum on this planet and deserve to die". You seriously need to get educated on the subject. Everyone on that list didn't go out to the local park and prey on innocent children. Secondly, most cases where a crime does occur, involves family members and the offender CAN be taught to modify their behavior and thoughts.

If everyone who ever did more than kiss their girlfriend before the age of 18 was put on that list, you'd see most people's parents, grandparents, etc. on there right now. Don't be so naive as to think that there's a perfect system in place. Plenty of people who've been falsely accused of a sex crime are on that list too. Wanna go to jail or cut a deal that includes registration? Hmm, what would you chose?

And what of essentially leaving an open-ended sentence for these people? You get sentenced before 1995 and then years later they implement a new sentence on you because enough radicals decide it's what's best for society??!! When you finish cheering for this, consider if they did the same for everyone with a prior parking ticket, DUI, speeding ticket, etc. Where does it stop? Maybe I'd feel safer if I know to watch the road when my neighbor is driving because they had a DUI 20 years ago and they might kill someone if they get behind the wheel today. This is not only an unfair decision, it's downright ludicrous.

Posted by: Ben | Jul 9, 2009 6:12:47 PM

This is so sad. My brother had two conditions when he took a plea. One he wouldnt plea to a felony. Two he wouldnt plea to any crime that required his registration. He would have never taken a deal had he known they could change the law. They continue to pile on new restrictions year after year. He was free from registration until this ruling for a misdemeanor that no one would care about if not for this ruling. Now he has been talking suicide since he found out he will have to register again. He is the best father I know and I fear his little girl will not have her father soon.
These laws are supposed to protect us. Thank you Missouri for protecting us from the streakers and public urnatirs!! Get the right people on these lists and the wrong people off or get rid of them!!

Posted by: freedomwriter | Jul 12, 2009 4:13:44 AM

to jmm if you gave any thought to what you were saying you would realize that with out hope there is no reason to cohabitate with the world if this only meant that the hopless would end their existance then mabey this would seem ok but history as confirmed this not to be the case and that non identification has led to some of the worst atrocities so to help with the prosses is a crime against humanity

Posted by: louis | Jul 15, 2009 7:18:40 AM

Where do you go to get this decision reversed? There is nothing good is going to come from this.The heavy burden of emotion and having to re-register after two years of being FREE, is to much to ask for the normal man.They need to rewrite these laws and leave these men alone after they have done there probation or jail time.They also need to seperate all of the different types of sexual crimes,and adjust the list accordingly,plus write the year of the crime.It only makes it look worst than what it truly is.Does anyone know if there is some kind of petition going on to reverse this unbelievable dicision.

Posted by: Quentin | Jul 23, 2009 10:01:59 PM

If you read the federal guidelines for SORNA it says that the state don't have to register anyone who is not currently registering and not currently in jail or on probation...If the person gets a new case, of any kind, then his old sex offense kicks in and requires registration.

The highway patrol and local sheriffs are rushing to get everyone registered and they don't even look at the federal guidelines.

The only attorney that has ever tried to get any kind of justice for the retroactive application of laws is Arthur Benson..

Posted by: ronie | Jul 24, 2009 8:50:58 AM

let the people in all states denied on registration
let put it to a vote,not the state

Posted by: garry | Jul 31, 2009 9:45:24 PM

My son is a also a victim of this list. His crime was committed when he was just 13 and was little more than inappropriate touching. Years later the young lady decided to tell her parents, and the rest was our history. My son pleaded guilty and the judge advised his record would be exponged should he receive counseling. Which he did. Years later, he has finished college and had the start of a good career and life. Then the changes to the sex offender list occurred and he was required to register. He has lost his job and opportunity for career, lost his fiance, he had to move from a nice home, he is not accepted by friends, co-workers, etc. He is on the brink of suicide because he has no hope. The incident was over twenty years ago, and he has not had so much as a speeding ticket. Repeat offender?? No way. This young man just wants what we all want - to live a productive life. With no hope, what does he have to live for? I wish there was someone who could help. We want to fight, but don't know how.

Posted by: Eugene | Aug 9, 2009 4:17:06 PM

A word to JMM...the reason why you think 'they're all *scum*' is because you threw a sex offender blanket statement based off your needle-nosed bandwidth of understanding. You summed up the worst possible scenario for what YOUR grotesquely wretched mind is rightfully capable of yourself, didn't you? The ugly truth is JMM, idiots like you are so mawkishly bigoted to understand your lack of self-awareness and you just proved to everyone how fucking stupid your are. Hope you fucking rot and be ravaged with freakishly horrifying nightmares in your suppressed shame...hahahahahahaha!!

Posted by: William Cohner | Aug 12, 2009 2:37:51 PM

Oh, and BTW JMM as well as everyone...I wasn't SAD or regretful to say anything...I'll eat EVERY word and chase it with a pitcher full of gunpowder.

Posted by: William Cohner | Aug 12, 2009 2:56:00 PM

Well let's see, what does this law do, you see a person who is on the list living in your neighborhood, well let's overreact and think he/she will reoffend. Newsflash, the offense usually happen within family and friends. Or your priest, which is a funny thing cause they aren't even on the list. go figure. These list are made for one thing, to keep the political game going, you see , you can't scare people into voting for you if you have a sex offender success story in making it without reoffending. You make it impossible with all these hoops, and not able to get a decent job. Come on, I am not saying let them teach or drive a school bus, allow them a chance, you force their hands to turn back to crime. Then you say "you see! I told you they can't make it!" An offender who is going to reoffend has done it and the list doens't stop them, just makes it harder for the ones who wish to turn their lives around.

Posted by: Rrs | Aug 16, 2009 5:06:38 AM

I posted the writing that is under Quenten's name ...

ANyway someone wrote that: "Posted by: ronie | Jul 24, 2009 8:50:58 AM

let the people in all states denied on registration
let put it to a vote,not the state."

For real if the people of the USA were allowed to vote on Slavery in the 1800's
there would still be slavery in this country..

somewhere along the lines the judges and lawmakers need to step up and do the right thing... 1. register only the most dangerous of offenders (not retroactively). 2. give them a chance to get help and prove that they don't belong on the regestry any more.. 3. QUIT MAKING EXPOST FACTO PUNISHMENTS and 4. Get all the names off the list that pose little risk.

Posted by: ronie | Sep 3, 2009 1:16:36 PM

RSOL Reform Sex Offender Laws..

Please JOIN!

reformsexoffenderlaws.org =national

RSOL of Missouri = rsolmissouri@yahoo,com

Posted by: ronie | Sep 16, 2009 9:56:50 AM

"The only attorney that has ever tried to get any kind of justice for the retroactive application of laws is Arthur Benson."

Not true. Jonathan Sternberg is another... he helped my friend in the same problem, as well as others. http://sternberg-law.com

Posted by: Tom | Sep 23, 2009 9:44:34 AM

I have suffered an Alford Plea and to this day regret not tying it. I have lost licensing in my profession not once but now the second time. I have never sexually abused anyone, yet accused by my x wife to gain custody in 1993 as a witch hunt. 100K later I still find myself rejected by society. I know there are many Fathers like myself taken by this lie. I know I dovorved her for reasons of infidelity, but I love and miss my children....yet the state (missouri) keeps taking away my rights under my constitution. Any advice?

Posted by: Dennis | Dec 22, 2009 9:41:31 PM

Hi I am Dennis a commercial inspector who cannot residential inspect in Kansas due to the new laws here. Please help me?

Posted by: Dennis | Dec 22, 2009 9:43:14 PM

Yes, some individuals will make mistakes, some much worse than other' s!
However, should entire families be out-casted for the behaviors of one person involved within a said family? What my family member may or may not of done is important-we all understand this. SEX-CRIMES and the registry no matter what heading the action/ CRIME may fall under is destroying people. I am a student-7th grade who is tormented daily by fellow students for the sole reason being - a family member charged with a sex crime over 27 years ago. Not on the sex offender registry - -- bamm- on- the-sex offender registry.thank's to all of our
so-called trustworthy law makers- You have helped nothing!!! No sir, you all have created something - I did not break any law - People around here sure do make me and mine feel that way[scum]. When is enough - ENOUGH? 27 years of productive life and no re-offending. Shouldn't this person be left alone to live and grow without having to look over their shoulder - how can this be done when the accused is plastered all over the web? GET A LIFE PEOPLE-HOW MANY YEARS MUST ONE PAY FOR A SINGLE CRIME OF ANY NATURE>>>?


Posted by: sondawg | Jan 12, 2010 10:13:14 AM

On January 12, 2009, the Missouri Supreme Court decided that the Missouri Constitution, and common sense would prevail. They issued an opinion that struck down all of the state's new restrictive laws about sex offenders residence locations near schools and day care centers, that basically imposed house arrest on Halloween, and outlawed certain persons use of parks. The Missouri Constitution has a strict prohibition against ex-post facto laws. Now, only those convicted after the effective dates of these laws are thusly inconvenienced. I would say this is a step in the right direction. At least there has been no "night of the long truncheons" here yet!

Posted by: Stephen | Jan 18, 2010 12:58:30 AM

Um, wouldn't the right thing -- especially as an organization whose charter is to help (non-gay, of course) young men) -- to do have been report the abusers/molesters to the authorities?

Groups like this and the Catholic church have the balls to then tell us that they are the moral arbiters of society and that we should cede to their wisdom.

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Posted by: Real Estate Investment costa rica | Jul 30, 2010 9:11:26 PM

Is there ANY hope in getting your name off this list? My crime was 20 years ago, and due to the new rule in 09 I had to re-register. I have since lost my job, home, wife and kids. WOW, Alot to loose in a year! I have given up hope, and feel there is nothing left to live for. Is there a petition we can sign...a court that will hear our voices...ANY HOPE AT ALL! What has been done to me & others like me..is UNFAIR!

Posted by: Michael | Aug 27, 2010 6:45:58 PM

I too was free for the two years and actually started to feel like a real human. After pleading guilty back in 1988 for sexual abuse at the age of 19 because my firt time public defender said I would go to jail if i did not; here i am worse off. Cant I just over rule my guilty plea just like they have done with this ruleing. You know the old saying about Missouri "Just waite 5 minuets and the weather will change"; I think it applys to the court rulings too. Pray they dont rule that if you have ever had an abortion you are now a murderer and will have to be put on a list forever!!!

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Posted by: מוסך מרצדס | Jan 6, 2011 6:32:31 AM

Under current Missouri Law If your offense was considered non-violent, non-dangerous and non-predatory and once you have registered for 10 years you can petition the sentencing court to have your name removed from the list. If granted, the requirement for registration is made void. However, the conviction stands. These offenses are all considered 2nd degree offenses.
Also... for those readers who dont know the laws or the facts about sex offense recidivism you need to do your homework. 90% of all convicted sex offenders are sent to prison. When the offender is getting ready to exit the prison system (either on parole/probation or sentence completion) each offender must undergo a psycological evaluation to determine if he is a danger to society. If he is deemed to be a danger he is not released. He is transferred to the jail of the sentencing county and forced to undergo a civil commitment trial. If he loses that trail he is indefinately committed to the Sexual Predator Unit (SPU) located in Farmington, Mo. just outside of the gates of FCC prison. They are not released until they undergo additional treatment and prove to a TEAM of dotors and the judge there is no longer a threat to society. NOW WITH THAT HAVING BEEN SAID.. Those that are on the registry are not a danger so y track them. They arent a danger because they werent deemed a threat and thus released into society. This law is nothing more than a way to create fear in the general public. A sex offender has the lowest rate of reoffending of any other criminal offense.

Posted by: deano | Jan 16, 2011 3:17:33 PM

Coincidentally, the SPU has been active since 1990. As of this date, NOT ONE SINGLE OFFENDER who has been committed to the SPU has ever been released into society. Gee I wonder what the list is truly for... To track those whom no threat is posed!!! Stupid waste of tax payers dollars and nothing more than a way to have control over society. And to think we are guaranteed under U.S. Constitution to be freee from cruel and unusual punishment. Guess who determine's what is cruel and unusual? The same ones who brought this law into effect requiring registration.

Posted by: deano | Jan 16, 2011 3:29:07 PM

I was convicted of "rape in the 3rd degree" (statutory) in Oregon. I was 19 and the girl was 14 she admitted to the cops she lied to me about her age stating she told me she was 16. Which would have been legal, (due to a 3 year age difference law).

Anyways, i had never been in trouble with the law, but she wanted to have sex so we did. I guess she told her mom about it bc her mom pressed charges against me. I did 10 days in jail, 18 months unsupervised probation, paid court cost and felony was treated as a misdemenor.

10 years later i was notified by the state police that i have to register as a sex offender for the rest of my life, and my life has been ruined ever since...

I had my first kid 13 years later and the state of Oregon took her and her sister away from me forever. Using my conviction has grounds to say i was a "threat of harm" to my own child.

Now I live in a different state have sole custody of my 3rd child, I am marriedn and have a fourth child, but I still have to register every 90 days for the rest of my life. Where is the justice?

Posted by: scott | Aug 4, 2012 12:53:27 PM

A cop friend of mine who lives in Louisianna, says he knows sumone who is married and has kids with his victim and he still has to register too. what the hell is that all about? this sexoffender registration law is a law that was made in haste not very well tought out and honestly doesnt work. if a offender doesnt want to be found they wont be til they offend again... and for those like me who didnt deserve to have to regiseter in the first place get treated like the worst case offenders. my crime was over 20 years ago, and registering wasnt part of my sentencing, so there for we should be exempt from doing such.

Posted by: scott | Aug 4, 2012 8:25:27 PM

I am also on this stupid list. My crime was in 1991, and I was released on Parole, and moved on. ITS BEEN 20 DAMN YEARS!! What the hell is going on?

If the list isn't bad enough, now they want all information about what you do, who you are, when you eat, everything about you.

Isnt this a violation of your civil rights? You pay the price and thats it, I thought. Now they harass you, make you register constantly, and splash you all over the internet.

Recently, I had a nov. 12 regesitry date. I called a day before to reschedule, and was told Nov. 7th was ok, and the last day.

I got their, and they filed a misdeameanor charge for not appearing, saying the 5th was the last date, and I missed it!!

I have registered over 50 times, and never missed one.

She said they were mad because I had not listed every site my business is on. What the hell is with this crap? I get punshied for 100 years? Listing is one thing, but your whole life? This is total bullshit.

Ive been harassed by people who have seen me on the net. I had NEVER had a problem before or after my 1991 crime, and yet treated like crap, especially by the Sherriffs office?

Do we still have a constitution? Or do we now live in a Dictatorship society.

And what about robbers, killers, why dont they register? Its also prejudice. If one has to register, why not all???

Im so pissed, I cant see straight. And if I contest their recent lie, Im screwed there too.

Someone either needs to run this country right, or let the other countries do it for us. We suck at it!!!

Posted by: Jim OKelly | Nov 8, 2012 11:56:22 AM

i was convicted of rape in the 3rd degree in oregon (1990), which is having sex with a teenager... i took a plea bargain which registering was not a part of the agreement. 10 years later i am notified by the state police that i have to register... for the rest of my life... 22 years later i am still having to register in missouri every 90 days for the rest of my life... this is unjust, and a ploy to get sex offenders to fail. if i miss a registration i can be charged with a felony. There needs to be some kind of statue of limitations... if you havent re offended in X amount of years you should be freed from the requirement.

Posted by: scott | Apr 12, 2013 1:01:05 PM

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