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[Updated] Doe v Harris

UPDATED — DECISION EXPECTED on Monday, July 1 at 10 am

to be argued on Wednesday, April 3, 2013, at 9:00 a.m., in Los Angeles

Ronald Reagan State Office Building
300 South Spring, Street, Third Floor, North Tower
Los Angeles, California,

CA Supreme Court Calendar:

Case Info:

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The debate:
1)Does the law in effect at the time of a plea agreement bind the parties?
answer: Yes
2)Can the terms of a plea agreement be affected by changes in the law?
answer: NO
Otherwise you would not make agreements. It’s pretty simple. Will government continue to endorse this discrimination?

I’m kinda hopin’ not.

This case could have great significance to registrants. The issue before the state supreme court is: “Under California law of contract interpretation as applicable to the interpretation of plea agreements, does the law in effect at the time of a plea agreement bind the parties or can the terms of a plea agreement be affected by changes in the law?” If the court decides that terms of a plea agreement cannot be affected by changes in the law, there will be many individuals who are no longer on the registry.

I am sure there are THOUSANDS like me who would never have agreed to a plea bargain over a decade or two ago if we were awarded the forethought of understanding it meant being subject to an ever-changing set of rules with tighter and tighter restrictions. I remember following a similar case around 2005 in the State of New York, where retroactive application of website listings was upheld but the courts there ruled that in cases of plea bargains it was a breach of contract. I don’t know if a higher court later overturned that though, and New York isn’t… Read more »

Ditto. When I copped a plea in 1987 I never thought that today I would be living like a fugitive for fear of losing work, friends (don’t bother making them anymore) or harm coming to my wife and kids.
Had I known then what I know now I would have bought an a$$load of Apple stock…oh and worked out a better deal. 😉

This will be a God send and I am hoping and praying the courts decide in our favor!!!

I got notification today that S191948 is actually moving to arguments. What do you *really* think the Court will decide? The Supreme Court will decide that plea agreements in criminal matters, for the purpose of the contract between the defendant and the court, are only binding for the duration of the term of criminal control specified in the sentence handed down. After the termination of imprisonment, parole, probation, (or whatever) is over, the contract entered into in the relevant plea bargain becomes moot. Sex Offender registry is not a punishment under the law, therefore the lifetime requirement to register cannot… Read more »

Bill, if you are not completely wrong on this, I will be an unhappy camper. Point in contention to your argument: when one enters a plea agreement, or any contract, one does so considering all that is or might come into play, not simply the elements in the contract itself. So, to say that existing laws such as those on SOR are not part of the understanding is to not understand what an agreement is, as opposed to a mere sentencing. The agreement takes all into consideration whereas the sentencing is only the sentencing. The status of that agreement is… Read more »

I think what is a unique opportunity about this case is that it is a civil matter of contract law, outside of the criminal realm. One can only hope that these appointed (for 12 years – not elected) judges are able to separate the law from the whole SO context.

I have a hard time believing that they would find it acceptable for one party to unilaterally alter the terms of a legally binding agreement after the fact.

But then again, I find many things difficult to believe.

Joe, mistake. The California high court judges must stand for a retention election every 12 years, meaning they can be voted off the court. Also, I think you should have a hard time believing they might go the way you can’t believe they would go. After all, this question was referred to them by the Ninth Circuit, because the Ninth Circuit did not consider it at all obvious. Unfortunately, the Ninth Circuit has already said that the case is completely dependent on this question, and that they will decide it following what the Calif. high court rules. Unfortunately, the California… Read more »

Nobody – right you are. Shoddy reading on my part – I did not get past the ‘appointed’ part. Please disregard statement to the contrary.

Thanks for the correction and clarification.

We filed a motion in Torrance Superior Court on behalf of my husband regarding this same issue and the hearing was 10-14-11. The original conviction was back in 1981. Unfortunately the motion to withdraw the plea based on this same issue was denied. The DA never filed an opposition and had not even reviewed the file until the morning of the hearing. The judge stated that our attorney could not demonstrate prejudice against my husband. Let him spend a week in my husband’s or children’s shoes and he will understand prejudice. I hope the court in this case is more… Read more »

What about laws passed later like Internet and park bans . Obviously some are hoping to get of the list altogether but wondering about just getting off the internet and not having to worry about more laws?

Remember folks, California Supreme Court is NOT deciding this case, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is. BUT… the state high court is answering a very important question that will help the federal court determine how THEY will rule.

I wonder how we can show support for Doe. Are we to go to the courtroom with signs? lol

I like that idea, and I will if you will!

And while we are going to courtrooms protesting with signs, how about this one? Curious that the alleged minor victim is too young to consent to sexual activity but old enough to be tried as an adult. Should be a good show.

The correct decision would be for the Court to state that terms of plea bargains bind all parties forever. So if the terms of your plea included the requirement to register, your responsibilities are what was specifically in effect at the time of your conviction and nothing more. Anything else is tantamount to double, if not multiple jeopardy. In order to stay abreast of the constant changes in the law one must research and re-register almost on a weekly basis and failure to do so makes one out of compliance and subject to felony prosecution. But since we have not… Read more »

I wonder if this federal immigration case has any bearing. It states that attorneys must advise non-citizen clients of deportation consequences.

I believe one of the consequences is that in deportation proceedings, if the particular “deportation” box is unchecked, that person cannot be deported since they never agreed to it.

Padilla v. Kentucky is a long stretch, and the Sixth Amendment is longer. At issue in S191948 (Doe v. Harris) is whether-or-not subsequent changes in the law can be applied retroactively. At first blush, it seems rather straightforward; Thus-and-such law in incorporated into the terms of a plea bargain and so those laws are the ties that bind the parties. But that’s not the way the prosecuting agencies view the Registries. Every time you visit your Local Friendly Officer charged with overseeing the SOR in his or her community, you are informed by the LFO of certain changes in the… Read more »

This case is alot better for all than that proposed “tier”…level…
catorgory…labels…type “tier”…which puts people in levels that a
jury or court never weighed on the scales…grossly ex post facto…
putting people unfairly in “tiers”……this case with the registry as
it read conviction/plea is by far more fairer to be off registry.

This is tomorrow… best of luck to Doe

Go Doe, go!

Does anyone know what this means?

04/04/2013 Motion for leave to intervene filed by Chester Hill, non party
04/17/2013 Motion for leave to intervene denied The motion for leave to intervene, filed on April 4, 2013, is denied.

Somebody wanted to be included in this ruling who has a similar situation (not necessarily an RSO) and the court denied it.

What came of this law? Anyone know? I think what all courts should do is say the registry is a part of the criminal law and not part of civil. Especially when some cities/states say you have 24 hours to give your address change or you spend 10 years in prison with a felony. I worked in a police station doing nothing but registration of SO’s. I couldn’t believe half their stories until they brought me the court documents. I hope this case will bring about something more. My hope is it brings the law into a perspective that defines… Read more »

Law Student, your concept of the original intent of the registry law is far off base. California was the first to institute one, back in about 1947, and was the only state with one for many decades. At the time the Clinton Administration, under Janet Reno, expanded it nationwide, only three states had a registry. But pretty much all the offenses now subject to registry were subject to it in California from the beginning — so that’s your original intent. In fact, one has been taken off the mandatory list, lewd conduct, although SOR can still be ordered for that… Read more »

I hope you join our fight with this.
Thank you so much for posting this and there is hope when some one like a law student like you interested in all this.

The California Supreme Court ruling in Doe v. Harris, regarding whether subsequent law changes can be applied retroactively to defendants who pled in a plea bargain, will be issued on Monday, July 1, at 10 a.m. That is, does the law in effect at the time of the plea bargain bind the parties, or can it be completely undermined by subsequent changes in the law, leaving the person who agreed to plead guilty to suffer any number of penalties he/she never would have agreed to.

Would a ruling in favor of Doe have any applicability to those still on probation? I entered into a plea bargain before mandatory polygraph examination was, well, mandated. There is nothing about taking a polygraph in my probation agreement, but the practitioner I go to says they are required for everyone that was on probation as of last July, regardless of when their sentencing occurred.

Well, I believe it will only affect retroactivity. To be honest, I had not heard about this mandatory polygraphs exam, and can’t see how it could be legal since it isn’t even admissible in court. Nonetheless, this ruling will affect retroactivity. I would think it would affect you. But in previously cases concerning retroactivity, I have seen the court measure from the time you try to implement a law, not from the time of conviction. Possibly this ruling could change where that retroactivity is measured, and all those people who have lost by it being measured at a later date… Read more »

I’m no expert in the law (or I wouldn’t be in this mess to begin with) but admissability of polygraphs is at a lower threshold for probation hearings supposedly as compared to admissability for evidence at trial. Or that’s what I gather from the group sessions I go to.

Would a favorable Doe v Harris ruling in our favor apply to plea agreements made in courts from other states? For instance, if another state’s court judgment for an RSO indicated a finite registation period, would Doe v. Harris supersede the State’s legislative requirement of lifetime registration?

Obviously a negative decision negates the above, but there are a lot of gray areas that can be included.

will this impact federal court?

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x