« Federal prosecutors say Whitey Bulger "richly deserves" his coming LWOP sentence | Main | "Informal Collateral Consequences" »

November 7, 2013

State judge in Pennsylvania finds lifetime sex offender registration for juve offenders unconstitutional

As reported in this local article, "a York County judge has ruled unconstitutional a two-year-old Pennsylvania law that imposes lifetime registration requirements on juvenile sex offenders."  Here is more:

Senior Judge John C. Uhler issued his ruling against the juvenile registration provisions of the Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act while weighing the cases of seven county teens adjudicated as having committed serious sex crimes.

Uhler found that the registration mandate "unconstitutionally forecloses a court's considerations of the many unique attributes of youth and juvenile offenders" under age 18 and improperly treats them the same as adult sex offenders. SORNA, as the act is known, also doesn't take into account the greater capacity juvenile offenders have to reform, he noted.

The state law was passed by the Legislature in late 2011 to comply with a federal law, the Adam Walsh Act. The state faced a loss of federal funding if it didn't adopt a measure compatible with the Walsh Act.

Uhler's ruling is in reply to a challenge mounted on behalf of the seven York County youths by the county public defender's office, the Juvenile Law Center and the Defender Association of Philadelphia. The children involved were subject to registration after being found to have committed crimes including rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and aggravated indecent assault. They were ages 14 to 17 when the offenses occurred.

In a statement issued Thursday, officials of the Juvenile Law Center and the defender association called Uhler's decision a "landmark ruling."

"It is our hope that this decision will result in similar findings across the commonwealth," said Riya Saha Shah, a staff attorney with the law center. "To impose this (registration) punishment on children is to set them up for failure."

County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tim Barker said his office is reviewing Uhler's decision for a possible appeal to the state Supreme Court. A decision is expected next week, he said. "We're thoroughly going through everything," Barker said.

Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed, president of the Pennsylvania District Attorney's Association, predicted an appeal is likely. Prosecutors are well aware of arguments for and against the juvenile sex offender registration requirement, he said. "I'm not surprised that the judge would rule this way," Freed said. "We'll see what happens in the appeals courts."

The full 40+ page ruling reference here is available at this link, which I found via this helpful page from the helpful folks at the Juvenile Law Center.

November 7, 2013 at 06:44 PM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference State judge in Pennsylvania finds lifetime sex offender registration for juve offenders unconstitutional:


¿ November 7, 2013 at 06:44 PM ?

No comments yet ? ‼

Posted by: Just Plain Jim (Just Another Guy) | Nov 8, 2013 8:14:08 PM


In response to your concern about no comments yet, good for this judge. Now let's get rid of the rest of the POS Adam Walsh Act and the fear-mongering registry as it is currently practiced.

Please note that I consider the primary creators of the registry (Walsh, Foley, Clinton, Kennedy (Ted), that senator from WI, et al) to be the ones who really deserve to be on the registry because many have either acknowledged or were found to have committed acts that should have put them there!

Those who do not show mercy (or rationality) to others, deserve none for themselves!

They then use blackmail and federal money to states in the form of grants (bribes) to get their "questionable" acts approved.

Posted by: albeed | Nov 9, 2013 9:48:33 AM

I'm glad you mention Mr. and Mrs. Walsh among the names in the above ALBEED response. The Walshes by their criminal negligence of their little boy, Adam, at the time of his murder needs to be publicized. It was the decision by Mrs. Walsh to leave her little boy unattended at a penny arcade inside a shopping mall that enabled a sicko psychopath to abduct and brutally murder the little chile.

Plus, the Walshs's close association with sleazy organizations and persons like the Fox Network and Rupert Murdoch also damages the Walshs' credibility and integrity. Almost as galling is Mr. Walsh's misandrist (anti-male) views that all male baby sitters and ONLY male baby sitters a unsuited to be around little children. When we were growing up, I, my brother, and sister, had at least TWO male baby-sitters and upteen female baby-sitters. One of the two male sitters was a close friend of our family and the other was a college undergrad with excellent references. All but one of our female sitters were also quite good. The one sitter we and our parents had complaints about was one of the female sitters who was verbally abrasive and who did not get along with little children. My parents always insisted on references by any of our baby-sitters, regardless of their gender or race. Evidently, John Walsh feels no need to check references of female sitters and to disregard any good references from male sitters!

I hope somebody will pull the Walsh couple down several pegs, sooner and not later!

Posted by: william r. delzell | Nov 9, 2013 2:17:06 PM

Also do not leave out that John Walsh admitted to dating his wife when he was an "admitted bad boy" in the college scene. She was 16 at the time, and he even admitted that her parents would have been very upset if they knew they were dating.

I'm actually not dissing the relationship; frankly all relationships should be as close as theirs were (at the time). But the implication that Walsh and a girl younger than legal age in her state were most probably in an intimate relationship that would have landed Walsh as a predator (or at least a level 2) based upon his admitted actions as a "bad boy" (and needing professional treatment for sexual issues) speaks volumes about hypocrisy, both of Walsh's support of, and the state sanctioned hit list known as the sex offender registry.

Posted by: Eric Knight | Nov 10, 2013 12:36:24 PM

.., Kennedy (Ted),..

Do you refers to Chappaquiddick incident?

Posted by: visitor | Nov 10, 2013 12:49:36 PM


Your analysis is exactly what I meant, a "college" boy dating a "minor". I also do not have a problem with that, it is the current hypocrisy.


Maybe, among other incidents.

Posted by: albeed | Nov 10, 2013 1:46:09 PM

The P.O.S.A.W.A. should have nothing to do with "sex offenders". It should have been a law that makes it illegal for parents to leave their children unsupervised. That would have honored its namesake. The "sex offender" laws always de-emphasize personal responsibility. That is never any part of a law. The laws just harass people who have already been convicted of something in a way that is not only ineffective, it's counterproductive. These "sex offender" laws are for harassment and are never for anything proactive to actually prevent a sex offense.

These "park bans" laws are a great example. Completely unnecessary and completely ineffective. How about a law that makes it illegal to not supervise a child in a park. We do not need to keep certain people out of parks but we do need to supervise children there. So why no law for that? It would also be enforceable, unlike the "bad guy" ban.

I used to like John Walsh until he started personally attacking my family. Now I realize that the U.S. would be a better and safer place if he were dead.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Nov 11, 2013 11:36:11 AM

So lifetime registration and supervision, paying a yearly free for the rest of your life, can't get a job, being harassed on a public registry with public address information, being forced to carry a driver's license when you leave the house with the word "SEX OFFENDER" in certain states, banned from parks, schools, cant live near certain areas but rural areas offer more cover, have to report and give dna samples and internet info, banned from sba loans, mortgages, and unemployment insurance (bills were passed by congress, sba ban is in effect),gps monitoring if your homeless.

If that isn't punishment (with the exception of say getting a job which is hard, but not a right), what is?

In contrast, if a juvenile murders a child in cold blood,sets your house on fire or you or your children causing harsh third degree burns, joins and gang and guns down people, or does other grizzly crimes, or sells drugs to your children, he or she can have a free life and may have nearly all those privileges of a free man, and of course life imprisonment is banned.

Of course if you urinate in a park or do sexting as a teenager, or have consensual sex with another teenager (not all states have exemptions equally), of grab a child's arm like fitzroy when a teenager was playing in the streets just to chastise her (maybe wrong but not a serious sex offense), you'll be a SEX registry.

Of course with the exception of a few states, there is just a SEX registry, and the US marshalls, and all other states,tribes, and others are obsessed with people on a "politically defined sex registry".

This is stupid and I'm surprised the media and folks and commentators don't mention this. Politicians know the word "SEX" attracts attention/

Posted by: Kris | Jan 18, 2014 2:05:23 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB