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August 8, 2010

"Unyielding law means sex offender can't stay, can't move"

The title of this post is the headline of this new piece in the Miami Herald, which gets started this way:

Joseph Mortimer and his wife took out an equity loan on their longtime home in Richmond Heights during the real-estate boom, fell into foreclosure in February and then got scammed for $3,000 at a loan-modification seminar. But their recession story has a twist: Mortimer can't move to another nearby home because he was convicted of a sex offense in 1993.

Mortimer's problem illustrates a quirk in the Miami-Dade County ordinance that bars sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school, park or playground. Because Mortimer lived in his Southwest Miami-Dade house before the ordinance was passed in 2005, he was allowed to stay there despite its proximity to two schools. But the location of his newly purchased house -- about one block away -- violates county law.

"I don't know what to do," said Mortimer. "Every time a new law comes out, it's like I'm being convicted all over again."

Mortimer, 44, pleaded guilty in 1993 to attempted sexual battery on a minor for molesting his girlfriend's 15-year-old daughter. He later married the girl's mother, underwent therapy and completed his probation in 2002.

He received a withhold of adjudication, meaning no felony conviction appears on his record, and holds a job as a heavy-equipment operator with Miami-Dade County. In court recently, Mortimer begged Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jorge Cueto for help.

The judge said there was nothing he could do. "The man is doing really well. He's been a productive citizen for years," Cueto said in court. "But I don't have the power to change the law."

August 8, 2010 at 11:53 PM | Permalink


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I will admit my comments are being made by not knowing the particulars of Florida's SO laws. Frankly, the laws regarding SOs seem to get particularly screwy south of a Mason-Dixon based on the occasional stories that make the news up here.

That being said, if his conviction was in 1993, wouldn't his registration time be up? In those years, the registries were actually well intended and had some sense behind them. Unless Florida was particularly harsh in their requirements from the very start, I have to wonder why this gentleman is still restricted.

Based on the information given in the article, this man would be a great example of how someone can make a mistake, serve his time, be "cured" (for lack of a better description), and lead a productive life. This, of course, would be contrary to the image portrayed by fear-mongering politicians and how dare they be shown to be wrong.

There just seems to be some important details left out of this story as far as the laws regarding SOs.

Of course, this is also the same community that is famous for forcing its SO population to live under a bridge due to harsh residency laws (search Tuttle Causeway for more details)..

Posted by: Questions Authority | Aug 9, 2010 12:54:29 AM

sorry no florida is one of those it's for LIFE state's unless 25 years after your probation is done you can find the money to go to a judge and then pray he/she let's you off.

as for this little nazi!

``He's broken the chain and he is out . . . You cannot re-grandfather the grandfather,'' said Ron Book, one of the ordinance's chief architects and the head of Miami-Dade's Homeless Trust, who helped find housing for the Tuttle camp offenders."

I love to see a news article about someone breaking a chain around his neck! he's the nazi who started this illegal residence crap in south florida. As for his crooked homeless trust....they went though millions from the febs and placed almsot no one. As for their placing the ex sexoffenders from the camp. yea right. put them into appartment and hotels for 2 months. Just long enough to get the getto city they have built for themselves destroyed the suddenly it's GET OUT where we don't care.

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 9, 2010 2:31:35 AM

I think laws like this are in place for a reason. Something as minorly important as where you live does not compare to making sure children are safe.

Posted by: criminal law firms | Aug 9, 2010 3:43:47 AM

I think it is important to look at other cases like this and realise that reoffending does happen- the amount of years does not necessarily collerate with the likelihood of reoffending.

Posted by: cheshire solicitors | Aug 9, 2010 5:07:55 AM

These residency restrictions are so much nonsense. Any effect that they have on preventing recidivism is minimal, if not imaginary, and any effect that they have on destabilizing the life of the offender is enormous.

Of course, that assumes that the purpose behind these statutes is to prevent recidivism. If the assumption is that the purpose of the statutes is to make life hell for people trying to pay their debt back to society, then things begin to make a whole lot more sense...

Posted by: Guy | Aug 9, 2010 10:10:12 AM


What's up with the UK spammers? I started to respond to their silliness and then wondered whether they were just really effective bots.

Posted by: Texas Lawyer | Aug 9, 2010 11:19:58 AM

The question, in my mind, is not whether sex offenders have a tendency to re-offend, but whether residency restrictions prevent them from doing so. If one is inclined to seek out children, there are plenty of places one can go. Merely preventing the offender from living near children is not much of a deterrent.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Aug 9, 2010 12:13:01 PM

There are two other people who will be adversely affected by this - the wife and daughter (who was the victim of the assault). As the majority of sexual assaults occur WITHIN families, residency restrictions like Florida's often end up compounding the harm to the victims - which I would hope is not what the lawmakers intended.

I would also ask if extracting this figurative pound of flesh is worth the quite real costs involved in screwing up this man's home situation to the people of FL. Jailing someone isn't cheap. Stopping him from purchasing a home will deprive the state of property taxes. And don't forget the very real HR costs involved in replacing him at work should he be incarcerated. All in all this is a bad deal for everyone. If Mr Mortimer has walked the straight and narrow for 17 years, living a mile closer to a school is extremely unlikely to cause him to stray now.

Posted by: Joe Power | Aug 9, 2010 1:29:48 PM

no offence to our visitors from the UK but under the US consttution these laws are illegal under the only real supreme court decision on the registy that said ti was legal BECASUE it didnt' require them among other things. As for offences aginst children all the numbers in 100's of studies i've seen show the proximity of a residence to one of these illegal restriction zones makes no diff. That even if these laws had been in place 10-20-30 years ago nothing would have changed on any of the 1,000's of convicitons looked at.

Plus overall sex crime reoffence rates are lower than ANY other crime except murder. so the billions we are wasting in cash and law enforcment manhours is a CRIME.

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 9, 2010 3:21:20 PM

How is it that he is even required to register now if he wasn't actually convicted? I could understand during the period of deferal while the state waited to see if the risk panned out, but now? That makes no sense.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Aug 9, 2010 4:55:44 PM

In Texas, there is a disposition called "deferred adjudication" which is technically not a conviction, wherein one must successfully complete a period of probation; there is no finding of guilt, and no sentence is assessed. However, those who accept "deferred adjudication" must register as well. Moreover, notwithstanding the official Texas version that "deferred adjudication" is not a conviction, the Feds treat "deferred adjudication" as a conviction for all purposes.

Posted by: Mark # 1 | Aug 9, 2010 5:18:53 PM

Talking law is what this site is about but does anyone other than me find it odd/strange that a mother would marry a man who sexually assaulted her child??

Posted by: Anon | Aug 9, 2010 9:48:55 PM

If he was convicted in 1993, that was 17 yrs ago. The girl must have been at least 3 or 4, or how else could she testify? She is grown. As far as saying "he was convicted" that doesn't mean he did the crime. Many men are "convicted" in this day and age who did nothing.

Posted by: DLJ | Aug 9, 2010 11:09:19 PM

So what's next, banning funny uncles from family dinners? Barring SOs from riding buses...because buses could take SOs to where the kids are?

It makes us look stupid.

Posted by: John K | Aug 10, 2010 10:20:44 AM

You know, It's really no ones business why a husband and wife stay together after a tragedy like this. As a matter of fact, it's THEIR business. Not the rest of the worlds. They made a decision to work through it as a family.

As far as Florida is concerned, the politician's down here don't care about the safety of children. Most already know that these residency laws don't work. They also know that the "Public Sex Offender Registry" is a joke. What's worse is that they know that a former sex offender needs the support of family/friends, a job and stable housing as well as access to counseling. This is what makes the Florida communities safe for everyone, especially children.

However, they are more concerned with their jobs. They are afraid of political suicide. They put themselves ahead of what is widely know as the "actual prevention of recidivism".

Posted by: Book38 | Aug 10, 2010 10:26:26 PM

Did you know that treatment for former offenders has been proven effective and that most sex offenders never commit another crime? Did you also know that making it more difficult for former offender to reintegrate into society increases recidivism?

Would you like more *FACTS* ? If so, look at this website and please sign our petition:

CanadiansForAJustSociety [dot] webs [dot] com

Posted by: Steven Yoon | Aug 17, 2010 12:41:19 PM


The US Supreme court can invalidate Habeas Corpus because a offender don''t have a release address, that''s the world we live in.

I can''t even get a state judge to see that the hard drive seized in 2001 was a 40gb and FDLE did not find any child porn on it according to their lab report, after compiling all the public and court records the charging evidence with was alledged to be a "MPEG" file that was sent to him a no name local cop was never found "no chain of custody" the state''s file, 7 volumes or appellate record, and when I sued the sheriff for the charging evidence in a civil case the judge let them create a record in 2007, and the sheriff NOW claims the 60gb hard drive contains child porn and the judge sealed the drive under court order, I started my own computer repair business how can a hard drive grow ?, it''s so bad here in Duval county I can''t even pay a lawyer to help me correct this corruption case, the crime was not even a sex crime when I plead, FS 847.0138 (2001).

Posted by: Curt | Oct 3, 2010 5:30:37 AM

Yes. never put off till tomorrow what you can do today
I believe you will do it.Throw BOTH these assholes out of court and out of town. Find another city to mooch off.

Posted by: UGG Classic Upside | Oct 30, 2010 2:31:56 AM

Hello! In your post did you use the data from some studies or here are only your exclusive reflections? Can't wait to see your reply.

Posted by: Jennifer the writer's Blog | Dec 12, 2012 9:34:14 AM

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