A federal appeals court just handed down a decision concerning the Arizona sex offense registry. A three judge panel of the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (the circuit covers AZ, CA, WA, OR, and more) unanimously upheld a conviction–and 3 ½ years incarceration–for “failure to register” with the state’s sex offense registry agency. The defendant argued he had already paid the price for a sexual misconduct conviction, the registry law didn’t even exist when he was sentenced, and that registration under these circumstances is additional punishment in violation of the Constitution’s ex post facto clause.
Can the state demand an additional pound of flesh? Many courts have said yes; the 9th Circuit used familiar reasoning in this case. First, the court determined the registry is a regulatory matter, a means to disseminate information that’s already public, while refusing to admit what the whole world knows, that the registry is punishment of very serious caliber. Next, the court determined the ex post facto clause does not apply…because the registry is not punishment. Voila, another pound of flesh including 3 ½ years imprisonment is legal, at least in the eyes of the 9th Circuit.
Check out what another federal appeals court did last week, a stunning ruling in a case with similar legal issues: The 6th Circuit Finally Said the Magic Word: Punitive.
Will the US Supreme Court jump into either of these cases? Stay tuned! -Bill Dobbs