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Doe vs Harris Decision

“… requiring the parties’ compliance with changes in the law made retroactive to them does not violate the terms of the plea agreement, nor does the failure of a plea agreement to reference the possibility the law might change translate into an implied promise the defendant will be unaffected by a change in the statutory consequences attending his or her conviction. To that extent, then, the terms of the plea agreement can be affected by changes in the law.



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The opinion is now out,and it is a MAJOR, COMPLETE loss. The state high court says no matter a plea agreement, the law can subsequently bee changed retroactively and applied regardless. The opinion is at: Complete loss. And as people who have seen what I have written so many times about the court, it is not surprising. In fact, I’m sure it is why the plaintiff filed in federal court in the first place, and why it is so wrong that the Ninth Circuit already said it would basically make this ruling its own. The only possibility now would… Read more »

The U.S. Supreme Court might have some favorable justices in the form of Alito and Scalia. I think they were the 2 dissenters in the SO case last in United States v. Kebodeaux

The opinion was written by Justice Werdegar. Five other justices concurred, including the newest and the one considered the most liberal, Justice Liu. It seems we can’t expect much help regarding SOR from Liu. There is a dissenting opinion by Justice Kennard. Kennard said she would limit the ruling to only changes in law that do not materially affect the plea bargain. That is, she says, if the change in law so alters the plea agreement that had the parties known at the time, one or both would not have agreed. Basically, the main opinion says that you should have… Read more »

Today’s decision by the California Supreme Court is a huge mistake. We can only wonder if they would have reached the same conclusion if the plaintiff in the case was a murderer rather than a “sex offender”. It will take many years to dig out from underneath this decision. In the meantime, I think there are some viable options: (1) anyone charged with a sex offense refuse to enter into a plea agreement, (2) anyone who considers entering into a plea agreement obtain in writing the current state of the law and explicitly state in writing the current state of… Read more »

One other potential legal avenue left in the wake of this case: the affect of 1203.4 PC relief to the registration requirement. This would not be as widely applicable as this Doe case would have been, but it would be beneficial to very many people. The standard for relief from 290 for those who got probation used to be obtaining 1203.4 relief. In fact, because of that, you were not even eligible to seek a certificate of rehabilitation. Through the mid 1980s (I would have to go back and check the specific year), both misdemeanants and felons who got that… Read more »

Much as your insight is appreciated, going both for you, Mr. Nobody and Ms. Belucci, it would be helpful if your perspectives included the animus issue. The Sex Offender laws, legislative gymnastics, courtroom dramas and manipulation of public opinion, are all designed to create a precedent for suspension of Civil Rights. If they can do it for Sex Offenders, they will have paved the way for easily doing it to any other group or subset of the population. “Sex Offense” is a devious and cunning strategy. There will be no relief from either the legislatures, courts or Federal administrations. What… Read more »

I have mentioned this in comments in the past; you elaborate on it well. This is one reason I say the only hope for any help is the political realm, because that is where the animus and attitudes of public opinion get the most consideration. Yes, public opinion must be addressed — and heavily so. Janice speaks sometimes — we need MANY more people with a status to be taken as a thought leader to do so too. We need to get cohereent, honest reports in the news — take those people to see in pereson what these laws have… Read more »

After several weeks thinking about this…
Could a distinction be drawn between cases adjudicated before, and cases adjudicated after the court’s decision on this.
Since the presumption of contract under existing law produced the plea-bargains that were enjoined prior to this recent decision, and in that the matter was unresolved before this S191948 came to pass; could it be argued that plea bargains entered into _before_ July 2013 are not subject to the S191948 rendering because the state of the law was undefined until then?

I want to cry BS to the court… It looks like they are protecting the state no concern to the citizens..

@Staying Positive

The LAST thing that you want to have happen is to have the present CONSERVATIVE SCOTUS pick up ANYTHING to do with retro-activity or constitutionality of SORNA laws. The folks that supported proposition 8 found this out the hard way.


This case was VERY CLEARLY a state law issue. While we may not like the decision, the courts upheld the law as it is written. It is not the job of the court to save us from bad public policy.

I never said there wasn’t a state law issue. I said it was a federal case and the federal court could decide it without abdocating to the state court, as its question said it would do, even as it sought input from the state court. Further, the court did not uphold the law as it is written. Not quite so. The court INTERPRETED the way it chose to interpret, and completely based on other opinions, never once citing a statute, which you say it upheld. They made new case law, did not simply uphold a statue. They interpreted interpretation. The… Read more »

send it to the supremes!!!

I agree with Justice Reform: SCOTUS will not help, and will only make it definitive law.

Not “definitive Law.” Make that “final” law.

This is a complete slap in the face of justice! This is completely unconstitutional, yet these insane judges fail to see it that way. Unbelievable!

This current case just decided should NOT be sent to Supreme Court ….
the case ripe for the Courts’ decision though are the beyond parole
punishment …those are clearly in gross violation of person’s civil
rights….registry for further punishment / restrictions……
discrimination harassment ………..putting free citizens / Americans
under lifetime parole conditions on the fly…………….there’s HomeRun for
that….the Constitution ……its ripe.

A Fried: I wish you were right. However, both the state and federal high courts have already ruled that SOR is not punishment. They’ve already decided that issue — wrongly and dishonestly.

As for your mention of lifetime parole, that started in New Jersey and now some other states have adopted that. But no one is adding that after the fact, that is applied at time of sentencing, not retroactively.

Of course, some of the other limitations and restrictions that have been imposed retroactively, such as residency restrictions, still await finality about whether they can be applied retroactively.

@an………you are taking a mis-directed notion on your part to somehow make my comment that registration has not been argued before the high court…….what has not been argued because at the time restrictions were not yet being applied as they are now……………restrictions …..Are we Clear…??

What did I tell you? This decision was carefully worded…Look! it never used the phrase SEX OFFENDER!! But it was aimed at us. Look how carefully they shot themselves directly in the foot: From now on, any trial lawyer will be obliged to advise his client that a plea bargain, no matter how cleverly constructed, isn’t worth the paper on which it had better be printed. So defense and prosecution will have to go to extraordinary lengths to detail every possible nuance of future law (impossible) in order to arrive at an acceptable plea agreement…and then it could be rendered… Read more »

I was watching this closely since I had a plea on a charge which was not registerable at the time and became registerable later. I’m heartbroken(not suprised) and not looking forward to telling my wife this decision.

I have gotten in the habit of not telling my wife about potential decisions that could bring us some relief. Instead I prefer to surprise her with good news. I have not had the chance to do that yet as far as the registry goes, but I look forward to the day when I can say “Guess what, honey: I’m off that stupid web site!”
Indeed, it would be better than winning the lottery.

No, I think winning the lottery would be better. Then I could get out of this ridiculous country! I am very patriotic and always loved this country…until I got set up. It’s hard to love a country that tells you that you have to jump through so many hoops just to live with your family, that makes traveling to see other states almost impossible.

Someone obviously is just going thru and clicking thumbs down on my posts…how could anyone who supports RSO rights have a problem with me wanting to win the lottery and get the heck out of the country???

Well, I upped your posts. Don’t take it personally when you get a thumbs down – it just means someone does not agree with you. As for the lottery, that would be nice, but I would prefer to come off the registry as I had no problem earning a comfortable living before being outed on the public registry. If I did not have a wife,kids, elderly parents and extended family I would feel differently about leaving the USA lotto winner or not. In fact, I would already be gone. But, I would rather live like a whole being here making… Read more »

The way I see it is that USA is ground-zero for the “sex offender” problem. The United States is loved and hated by many people all over the world…but love it or hate it, it certainly has its influence. Even in lands where the US is dreaded, feared, and despicably hated by the population, so long as there is a “Democratic” puppet-government installed, the US influence will prevail. I see the US, Japan and Australia fighting over the Philippines all the time for political and social influence. A few years ago, Australian and American delegates were encouraging the Philippines to… Read more »

Not shocked, not surprised, not outraged…this “decision” is similar to the ancient Roman gladiators when they fought captives in the arena. All the Roman leaders were in their seats of honor waiting to give the thumbs down to the captive slave who had just been beaten down by the gladiator. The court’s decision is nothing more than another legal thumbs down. The good thing is, I know karma, and it’s a *****! Karma’s coming and they better look out!

From now on, any trial lawyer will be obliged to advise his client that a plea bargain, no matter how cleverly constructed, isn’t worth the paper on which it had better be printed.

maybe we should forward this to all those lawyer blog and ask them what they think.

There are some small movements in the state and throughout the nation which are seeking to change plea bargaining as it currently operates today. One of the problems with plea bargaining is that the judge is usually out of the picture, so a lot of dealing under the table goes on behind the scenes (i.e. “I’ll drop the charges on that armed robbery case if you’ll get your client to plead guilty to one count of 288(a)…”, to which the DA knows very well that the defendant will have to register as an SO and be subject to Megan’s Law,… Read more »

Forgot to mention, see Georgia vs. Randolph regarding 4th Amendment rights and consent to searches.

mh, just a comment. The judges are not left out. In fact, there can be no plea bargain without a judge’s consent to it. The judge has the power to reject it. Sometimes, the judge even will initiate or undertake the bargaining from the bench, although not often. Judges do sometimes reject the plea bargain and set a trial. When the prosecutor is negotiating it, he/she knows the general parameters they can expect to have to stay within so that the court does not reject it out of hand, and so plea bargains are nearly always simply accepted by the… Read more »

Ok, but please pay attention to the sort of language I use – I rarely employ absolutes in my writing. For instance, I said the judge is “usually out of the picture”. But aside from the fact that the judge can accept or reject the plea bargain does not necessarily mean that he is directly involved in the actual “bargaining” process that goes on in every single example. For instance, I know he wasn’t involved in mine. I didn’t mean to say that the judge has no say in the matter, or that the judge has no power at all.… Read more »

People that can vote need challenge these laws for election reasons. such as equal right to form a campaign party, equal access to government meetings. it would not be as easy for the courts to agree with the state if the subject was based on elections and not sex offenders. If your town or city limit where you can live, then they also limit how many people can vote at their polls. Flood the courts with law suits. fill buses with people and then have them register in just one town as being homeless, it will start a panic.

This is a very interesting theory. The protections for access to the ballot box are quite strong. This is worth looking into.

Yeah, but take this into consideration…some polling places are public schools, which are almost impossible to access because the law says we have to get the superintendent’s permission(which they usually won’t give). In other words, if you live in such a place, they can arrest you for trying to access the polling place simply based on where it is!

That is a very interesting point. I would have to think lawyers would be fascinated by it. Does the Constitutional right to vote trump restrictions on registrants going to polling places at schools or other locations (my polling place is always at a recreation center in a local park) where they otherwise would be barred. Without specifically providing for an exemption for such “transgressions,” would the restriction on registrants have to be completely invalidated? Would other avenues to cast that vote make the question moot, such as voting by mail — is it even constitutional to limit only some people… Read more »

Fight the law for election reasons. it would be harder for the courts to up hold these laws. if your town limits where you live, it then also limits access to the polls.

The acceptance of a plea bargain which guarantees a young man will stay out of jail needs to be read in context with the Human Rights Watch report, ‘No Escape Male Rape in US Prisons’. They estimate that as many men are raped each year in the US as women are due to the endemic of prison rape. Out of interest, does/has the state ever sent women anywhere as a punitive measure where they, and the rest of society knows they’ll probably be raped? The guarantee of staying out of prison in light of this report confirms the above posters… Read more »

Unfortunately, when the difference may be between, say, a year of jail and 10 years probation for a plea vs. 25 to life for a jury conviction, the penalty is much too severe to risk in this case. I am not dismissing the advice, but even a plea deal with the subsequent lifetime registration punishment is preferable to a ~98% conviction rate that results in long prison sentences plus all the ensuing law restriction.

A question, perhaps one already answered above (I will read the posts and decision soon): Why does the CA High Court apply their ruling on the basis of contract law? Contract law seems to be predicated on the notion that both parties have some say in the matter–this is rarely, perhaps never, the case in plea bargain “agreements” which tend to be coerced and a “meeting of the minds” is just a chimera behind which prosecutors hide in such cases.

Hey Janice I have a suggestion for a counter lawsuit against this, I plead guilty to indecent exposure in public while in a drunken stupor-I was told by the public defender don’t worry about being a sex offender, you won’t be on the public web site-the cops-the system aren’t going to Hassel you. I was read my Miranda rights for my offense, but there was no Miranda rights warning me that if I plead guilty to becoming a sex offender, that it didn’t matter, one size fits all. %99 of those who a accept plea deals-become sex offenders have no… Read more »

Hello Janice I have interesting idea how you could waltz back into the 9th court-say “I AM BACK! “ I read an article online where tier#1 sex offenders in England filed a class action suit- had the high court remove them all from the S.O.R in England? File a multimillion $class action lawsuit against the state of Ca, on behalf of tier#1 sex offenders, similar to what was done in England. What would this accomplish? PLENTY OF FREE PUBLICTY FOR THIS ORG.> would wake Californians up by exposing to them that this registry has turned into a new gold rush… Read more »

one flaw in your idea…CA doesn’t have a tier 1 registrant because there isn’t a tiered registry here.

California doesn’t technically have an official 3 tiered system but they do recognize level 1 offenders by not having them on the Megan’s law website online. They are only listed on the police access sex offender registry. So, that would make a lawsuit weaker than if they actually were listed on a public registry. IMO

True, but then if many politicians had their way, ALL registrants would appear publicly on the website. With my original plea and sentencing, registration was only a special condition of probation, not part of my sentence. My case was a wobbler that I was told I could get reduced to a misdemeanor once probation was completed and be relieved of the requirement to register. This was all told to me before I signed the plea agreement. Five months into my probation, the DOJ took it upon themselves to change that and made it a registerable offense. No election, no congress… Read more »

I’m curious as to the applicability of the “NO STATE SHALL PASS ANY LAWS IMPAIRING


I believe this case is not a loss but an opportunity. For any individual whose conviction was by way of a plea agreement the California Supreme Court’s decision flies in the face of the Legislature’s intentions regarding the disposition of plea agreements. Read Penal Code § 1016.5. This statute allows any alien convicted by way of a plea agreement the right to withdraw that agreement if the court, prior to plea, failed to inform the alien defendant that this conviction may in the future affect their residency rights. The warning is required by law and refers to future legislation being… Read more »

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