Friday, November 04, 2011

Ohio Supreme Court sex offender case

Last July the Ohio Supreme Court in State v. Williams held that "imposing enhanced sex offender registration and community notification requirements included in the 2007 Ohio Adam Walsh Act (AWA) against defendants whose crimes were committed before the effective date of that law violates Section 28, Article II of the Ohio Constitution, which prohibits the General Assembly from enacting retroactive laws." (See Court summary)

In Williams, prior to his sentencing hearing, Williams entered a motion asking the trial court to sentence him under the Megan's Law sex offender classification scheme that was in effect on the date of his offense, rather than under the AWA classification scheme. The trial court overruled Williams' motion. Williams appealed, arguing that the retroactive application of the AWA registration requirements to his offense violated the ex post facto, due process and double jeopardy clauses of the U.S. Constitution and the retroactivity clause of the Ohio Constitution. The 12th District Court of Appeals had affirmed the trial court's classification of Williams under the AWA as constitutional. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell petitioned the Court for a reconsideration and/or clarification of its decision that same week. That was unceremoniously denied in September. ( Ohio’s Megan Law )( Adam Walsh version )

But we're not done with sex offender retroactivity issues here in Ohio yet; the Court heard yet another appeal of this same nature last Tuesday.The case this time was State v. Palmer, in which a 46-year old man was convicted of sexual battery in 1995, served out his sentence and was released before Ohio's first sex offender registration statute, Megan's Law, went into effect, but is still being required to register as a sex offender.

Palmer's position is that "At the time of his sentencing, Ohio's sexual offender registration system was the law created by the General Assembly when it enacted Ohio's version of Megan's Law in 1996. Am.Sub.H.B. No. 180, 146 Ohio Laws, Part II, 2560, 2601. Megan's Law provided for offender registration, classification, and community notification. But under that law, 'a person whose prison term for a sexually oriented offense was completed before July 1, 1997, is not required to register under R.C. 2950.04(A)(1)(a) or periodically verify a current address under R.C. 2950.06(A)[.]'" State v. Champion, 106 Ohio St.3d 120, 2005-Ohio-4098 at 113…. He completed his sentence before July 1, 1997, and so had no duty to register or verify his address under that earlier legislation"

The State's opposing view is that "The unqualified language of R.C. 2950.04(A)(2) applies the registration duty to all offenders who were convicted of sexually oriented offenses, regardless of when the offense or conviction occurred. Language in prior versions of the statute tying the registration duty to the date of the sentencing hearing or release from prison has been deleted, thereby rendering the holding of State v. Champion, 106 Ohio St.3d 120, 2005-Ohio-4098, inapposite…

"Insofar as appellant uses the first proposition of law to contend he has a separation of-powers defense to application of new law to him, appellant notably does not explain how he would fit within the holding of State v. Bodyke, 126 Ohio St.3d 266, 2010-Ohio-2424. Bodyke's separation-of-powers holding only applies when there has been a prior judicial classification, and appellant does not claim that any judge classified him previously. Indeed, his main argument has been that he was not even subject to Megan's Law, which is consistent with the view that no judge ever classified him. As appellant's conviction predated the effective date of Megan's Law, the sentencing judge made no reference to sex-offender registration status. Appellant simply does not benefit from Bodyke, and there is no prior judicial classification to 'reinstate.'"

1 comment:

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