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Argument preview: When a sex offender moves out of the country, does he have to tell anyone? [UPDATED]

UPDATED with Oral Argument – When ____ ____ ____, a federally convicted sex offender, left Kansas in 2012 to go live in the Philippines, one might have thought the United States government would be happy to see the back of him. Not so. Federal authorities tracked him down in Manila and escorted him back to Kansas, where he was convicted in federal district court of failing to notify Kansas authorities that he had left the state. On March 1, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear his argument that his move never triggered a duty to notify anyone. Full Article

Transcript of Oral Argument

Join the discussion

  1. Joe

    How does the government keep up the pretense that any of this ‘protects’ children in the place where this offender lives?

    Do these people – trained jurists, highly paid professionals – seriously have nothing better to do?

    This is nothing but rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, while the band plays on. Focusing on these absurdities while the country slips globally on every front.

    • PK

      This case has a lot to do with my contention regarding jurisdiction:

      “Nichols asserts that the overriding purpose of SORNA is to protect children where a sex offender currently resides, not children who live in his past residences. The government seemingly struggles to come up with reasons why Congress would have wanted notification given to the jurisdiction being vacated.”

      This same concept should apply domestically also.

      Should NY or any other State force an RSO to continue to register in their state (the place where they were convicted) if they no longer live in that state, work in that state, or pay taxes in that state. Whilst the purpose of SORNA is supposedly to protect children from RSO who lives or works near them. Right??

      I live in DC where I’m NOT Required to Register at all. Yet for years, NY has forced me to register in their state because that what where I was convicted. In spite of the fact that I haven’t lived there, worked there, or paid taxes there, since my misdemeanor conviction.

      • Timmmy

        And you did not fight NY in court of the due process clause like I did , and won?

        I have a throw away email now:

        38jmgy+b1pql4jiroxs0@sharklasers.com

        • PK

          I would like to read about your case.

          I also have a due process issue. First it was 10 years, then 20 years, and now? Oh maybe another 10 years.

          I have a note from the Prosecutor: Probation and 10 years on the SOR.

        • EnemyWithin

          I too have a NY issue. I was a Level 1 on the presentencing report, of which I have the original. The judge, who has since died and has been replaced by my lawyer at the time, automatically made every CSO a Level 2. I have never been able to get a response from anyone in the State about this issue, they ignore all letters and the Swan ST people never answer their phone. I know I need to get a lawyer to get any movement, but since I am in CA and have to register for as log as I decide I want to be alive, I figure might as well save my money. NY has those additional issues that are a pain in the ass, which is why I buy lottery tickets, my dream is to send a fleet of tractor trailers packed with email addresses printed in 6pt font to the Albany office.

        • SCOTUS WAKE UP

          You have a legit claim – you are afforded Due Process. Contact the local Legal Aid in the County of your Conviction and ask for assistance

        • SCOTUS WAKE UP

          This was decided by a federal court – http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-2nd-circuit/1669912.html not to violate due process. Why it wasn’t appealed to the supreme court I do not know. you could reach out to the attorney but he is pricey being located in Manhattan.

        • PK

          That Case has everything to do with Ex Post Facto, and I think an issue that Doe failed to raise was highlighted by the Opinion:
          “Doe does not challenge the procedure by which New York State so legislated. Nor does he challenge the procedure by which New York State convicted him of a relevant offense.”

          Indeed he should have challenged the procedure by which NY convicted him on the instant offense, because of the fact that he took the guilty plea upon the agreement that he would only have to register for 10 years.

          However, it doth not deal with the underlying issue of this Thread:

          Should NY or any other State force an RSO to continue to register in their state (the place where they were convicted) if they no longer live in that state, work in that state, or pay taxes in that state. Whilst the purpose of SORNA is supposedly to protect children from RSO who lives or works near them. According to This Article the Defendant not only moved out of the state where he was convicted, but out of the country- good for him.

        • Timmmy

          Well I have a federal court case which states differently in which the state did not afford me due process, and was ordered by the court to remove me from the registry.

        • SCOTUS WAKE UP

          can you provide the citation?

      • mjk

        PK, I’m in a similar boat with NY. My conviction originates in CA, but I moved post-conviction to NY for less than a year before returning to CA. Three years after returning to CA, NY still requires me to register even though I don’t live there. In CA I’m listed only by ZIP code, but NY lists my entire CA address including vehicle and employer information. This is apparently what I get for moving across state lines. I’m sure the extra numbers that NY (and similar states) counts on its own registry helps to bolster the causes of these politicins and law enforcement.

        • PK

          I’m not sure if you wanted to pursue the issue with NY further.

          I know that there was a previous case in the Appellate 3rd Department (Albany) His case sounds similar.

          http://courts.state.ny.us/REPORTER/3dseries/2011/2011_04804.htm

          I’ve already spoken with his attorney Kathy Manley, who indicated her client “Doe” would like to pursue this federally.

          Their opinion says: ” In our view, the statute’s dual purposes of monitoring sex offenders’ whereabouts and aiding law enforcement in prosecuting recidivist offenders would be frustrated if a sex offender’s registration obligations were to cease when he or she moves out of the state.”

          I think that’s weak, and I’ve never even heard of such a “dual purpose of the registry”. Anyway, there is NOTHING in the NY SORA Statute that indicates if an RSO moves out of the State or out of the Country for that matter, that they must still be bound to register in NY.

          Perhaps several Plaintiff’s pursuing the same case would be a good idea.

        • PK

          They need to be challenged on that. You weren’t even convicted in NY, but they’re making you continue to register in NY- as if you still live in NY.

        • mjk

          I’m planning on it. It makes absolutely no since for anyone to be registered in two states. Then again, research shows it makes no sense for anyone to be registered at all!

          I’ll contact the attorney. Thank you for the information.

        • PK

          My only contention is that Kathy indicated that she doesn’t have experience with federal actions.

          I’ve also spoken with Peter Brill, who is up-to-date on our similar NY SORA issue that we discussed. He gave me a lot of ideas for a Federal Action, including enjoining with several Plaintiffs, and assistance from the NYACLU.

        • SCOTUS WAKE UP

          listing your license plate is illegal – Please check: http://www.criminaljustice.ny.gov/nsor/claws.htm

          It lists what can be released for each level, and if the state is releasing more, email them at:
          New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
          Alfred E. Smith Building
          80 South Swan St.
          Albany, New York 12210
          E-Mail Address: InfoDCJS@dcjs.ny.gov
          Phone: 518-457-5837 or 1-800-262-3257
          or
          Sex Offender Registry
          New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
          Sex Offender Registry
          Alfred E. Smith Building
          80 South Swan St.
          Albany, New York 12210
          Phone: 518-417-3384 (Main number, non-search)
          Phone: 518-457-5837 or 1-800-262-3257 (For database searches)
          email: SORRequests@dcjs.ny.gov

          Here is the exact text of the law:

          (a) If the risk of repeat offense is low, a level one designation shall be given to such sex offender. In such case the law enforcement agency or agencies having jurisdiction and the law enforcement agency or agencies having had jurisdiction at the time of his or her conviction shall be notified and may disseminate relevant information which may include a photograph and description of the offender and which may include the name of the sex offender, approximate address based on sex offender’s zip code, background information including the offender’s crime of conviction, modus of operation, type of victim targeted, the name and address of any institution of higher education at which the sex offender is enrolled, attends, is employed or resides and the description of special conditions imposed on the offender to any entity with vulnerable populations related to the nature of the offense committed by such sex offender. Any entity receiving information on a sex offender may disclose or further disseminate such information at its discretion.

          (b) If the risk of repeat offense is moderate, a level two designation shall be given to such sex offender. In such case the law enforcement agency or agencies having jurisdiction and the law enforcement agency or agencies having had jurisdiction at the time of his or her conviction shall be notified and may disseminate relevant information which shall include a photograph and description of the offender and which may include the exact name and any aliases used by the sex offender, exact address, background information including the offender’s crime of conviction, mode of operation, type of victim targeted, the name and address of any institution of higher education at which the sex offender is enrolled, attends, is employed or resides and the description of special conditions imposed on the offender to any entity with vulnerable populations related to the nature of the offense committed by such sex offender. Any entity receiving information on a sex offender may disclose or further disseminate such information at its discretion. In addition, in such case, the information described herein shall also be provided in the subdirectory established in this article and notwithstanding any other provision of law, such information shall, upon request, be made available to the public. Such law enforcement agencies shall compile, maintain and update a listing of vulnerable organizational entities within its jurisdiction. Such listing shall be utilized for notification of such organizations in disseminating such information on level two sex offenders pursuant to this paragraph. Such listing shall include and not be limited to: superintendents of schools or chief school administrators, superintendents of parks, public and private libraries, public and private school bus transportation companies, day care centers, nursery schools, pre-schools, neighborhood watch groups, community centers, civic associations, nursing homes, victim’s advocacy groups and places of worship.

          (c) If the risk of repeat offense is high and there exists a threat to the public safety a level three designation shall be given to such sex offender. In such case, the law enforcement agency or agencies having jurisdiction and the law enforcement agency or agencies having had jurisdiction at the time of his or her conviction shall be notified and may disseminate relevant information which shall include a photograph and description of the offender and which may include the sex offender’s exact name and any aliases used by the offender, exact address, address of the offender’s place of employment, background information including the offender’s crime of conviction, mode of operation, type of victim targeted, the name and address of any institution of higher education at which the sex offender is enrolled, attends, is employed or resides and the description of special conditions imposed on the offender to any entity with vulnerable populations related to the nature of the offense committed by such sex offender. Any entity receiving information on a sex offender may disclose or further disseminate such information at its discretion. In addition, in such case, the information described herein shall also be provided in the subdirectory established in this article and notwithstanding any other provision of law, such information shall, upon request, be made available to the public. Such law enforcement agencies shall compile, maintain and update a listing of vulnerable organizational entities within its jurisdiction. Such listing shall be utilized for notification of such organizations in disseminating such information on level three sex offenders pursuant to this paragraph. Such listing shall include and not be limited to: superintendents of schools or chief school administrators, superintendents of parks, public and private libraries, public and private school bus transportation companies, day care centers, nursery schools, pre-schools, neighborhood watch groups, community centers, civic associations, nursing homes, victim’s advocacy groups and places of worship.

          Never mentions vehicle information

        • mjk

          I emailed them, and they replied! Told me to look at 168-b(1)(f). I read it and it only states what they can collect, and 168-b(1)(f) is quite disturbing:

          1. The division shall establish and maintain a file of individuals required to register pursuant to the provisions of this article which shall include the following information of each registrant:
          (f) Any other information deemed pertinent by the division.

          I’ve responded to them referencing 168-q which is what you posted above (what is to be included on the public website) and it is a very specific list of items to be included on the public website. It does not list vehicle information. I’m awaiting a response.

          I wonder how many folks have this information listed as well?

    • 4sensiblePolicies

      I wish cases like this would not be taken to SCOTUS. We need carefully thought-out cases we can win. There is a 99% chance they will rubberstamp the requirement to inform the jurisdiction of departure based on the premise that to not do so will taint the ‘sanctity’ of their registry – citing some garbage about legislative intent, blah blah blah…. The won’t even look at whether it violates the rights of the individual. And of course they will invoke the commerce clause because the person was traveling ‘interstate’. Every loss we sustain emboldens the enemy even further.

      I read the article, where someone argued that leaving the country is the same as dying – and you don’t have to register when you are dead. Next we will see one of our fine politicians draft legislation that you must register at least 21 days before your intended date of death.

      • SCOTUS WAKE UP

        Florida law requires you to remain on the public registry for 365 days after your death

        • PK

          That Florida Law needs to be challenged also. I’m actually from Miami, but I haven’t been back there since 2007. But it is my homing-ground and it would not be good if I couldn’t return to Florida. And no I would not even think about coming close to being involved in anything construed the Registry in Florida, or whatever ******** you want to call it.

          It’s kind of strange that all of these requirements and enforcement have only been taking place within the last couple of years. In 2003 I was even working in the Pentagon, this being 2 years after my conviction.

        • SCOTUS WAKE UP

          I would like someone to argue that Florida’s requirement of lifetime registration, on a public registry if you are there for 4 days and never return (although I think the way its worded if you change hotels every 3 nights you could avoid the registry) creates an unconstitutional chilling effect on travel.

          However the ACLU in Florida and the FAC both failed to reply to my emails.

          PK I left a note further up about possibly contacting you

        • TiredOfHiding

          My issue was also in Florida so I am a lifetimer in that respect. I moved out when they started all of the residency restrictions back in 2004 to after I was forced out of my apartment and then could not find another one. Never looked back HOWEVER, the fact that it is in Florida does indeed affect me in that I have to register for life!

          I would love to join in a lawsuit with others in challenging these requirements that will follow us for the rest of our lives even without living or ever returning to the sunshine state!

        • Bluewall

          Just incase you return has a zombie or another form of the undead… after all there is a high population of voodoo/voudon believers there

      • Timmmy

        The reason why it is in the Supreme Court is because two district courts came to different decisions.

        “QUESTION PRESENTED:
        Two men lived on opposite sides of the Missouri River in the Kansas City Metropolitan area, one in Missouri within the Eighth Circuit, the other in Kansas within the Tenth Circuit. Both men were convicted of sex offenses before the enactment of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”), but were required to register under SORNA. Both men traveled from their homes to the Kansas City International Airport, flew to the same foreign country to reside, and thereafter did not update their registrations in the jurisdictions they had left. On these facts, the Eighth Circuit ruled in United States v. xxxxx 725 F.3d 859 (8th Cir. 2013), that the failure to update a registration does not violate SORNA. The Tenth Circuit came to the opposite conclusion in Petitioner’s case, on the basis of its earlier decision “

  2. Timmmy

    I am a bit confused on how he would have gotten convicted on two grounds:

    1) This law violates the commerce clause as it has nothing with commerce.

    2) The law clearly does not state one needs to alert the state you are no longer residing in.

    • PK

      @Timmmy, according to my NY Lawyer, it does have something to do with Commerce, I’m not sure how that works however.

      • Timmmy

        Well sounds like you may need to change lawyers.

        In United States v. Lopez the USSC overturned this guys conviction under the Gun Free Zone Schools act because just carrying a weapon on school grounds had nothing to do with interstate commerce.

        • Tuna

          Let me guess, without looking at the case. The govt argued that because the weapon had traveled in interstate commerce at some point, that created the jurisdiction.

        • Timmmy

          Yep, you got that right

      • SCOTUS WAKE UP

        PK – is there anyway to contact you? Can you let the moderators know (if youre ok with it) to give your email to me, i also live in NY and would like to further discuss with you, we might be able to bounce ideas off of each other

        • PK

          Hi SCOTUS WAKE UP I think that would be a great idea, I just sent a message to the Moderator via the Contact Form,

        • SCOTUS WAKE UP

          I just sent them a note requesting your info, or to pass you along mine. hopefully they will see this soon

        • SCOTUS WAKE UP

          still haven’t heard back
          if i need to ill write my email here over multiple comments

          just dont really want it public

        • PK

          I haven’t heard either. Timmmy was able to create a “throwaway email” I will look into that also.

        • SCOTUS WAKE UP

          If you go to https://www.sharklasers.com/ you can create one there, if you post it ill then email you there

    • Mike

      I think the argument for interstate commerce is based on buying something in one state that is used to travel to another state…

      I.E. a plane ticket or a tank of gas, etc. They probably would try to extend it to food and your clothes and shoes if you argue that you walked across the border.

  3. Timmmy

    Quite an interesting case

    QUESTION PRESENTED:
    Two men lived on opposite sides of the Missouri River in the Kansas City Metropolitan
    area, one in Missouri within the Eighth Circuit, the other in Kansas within the Tenth Circuit. Both men were convicted of sex offenses before the enactment of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”), but were required to register under SORNA. Both men traveled from their homes to the Kansas City International Airport, flew to the same foreign country to reside, and thereafter did not update their registrations in the jurisdictions they had left. On these facts, the Eighth Circuit ruled in United States v. xxxxx 725 F.3d 859 (8th Cir. 2013), that the failure to update a registration does not violate SORNA. The Tenth Circuit came to the opposite conclusion in Petitioner’s case, on the basis of its earlier decision

    http://www.supremecourt.gov/qp/15-05238qp.pdf

    Sounds like one for now has a case of kidnapping, false arrest, and false imprisonment. Kaching kaching!

  4. Nicholas Maietta

    I just hope so much for a true God and a day of judgement.

    I also hope there is a true Hell, because i reckon that people like those involved in the process of going after this guy, have a nice warm place to sleep every night, for eternity.

  5. USA

    Well, there are a few issues this man must deal with. First, the Philippines has banned all registered citizens. Secondly, did he even inform the state he was residing in that he was moving? 3rd, is he now a citizen of the Philippines? This is a very thought provoking issue. Personally, I feel they shouldn’t had even touched him! I hope he wins.

  6. mike t

    It appears this man is being treated like he is a piece of government property due to his registration requirement. It’s like a twisted human-trafficking scheme sanctioned by the U.S. government. It’s too bad the Philippine government did not offer this man asylum due to human rights violations carried out by the U.S. government against registered citizens as I’ve seen in recent years from the U.K., Canada, France, and Poland.

  7. David H

    This case illustrates for me something I was planning to do and the consequences therein. I would love for him to win, but from here on in good luck with moving out of the country–I’m clueless as to where one could go!

    • rob

      Was this man still on probation?
      If he completed his sentence and did his probation then how can it be legal to keep someone from living internationally? If you require him to register for life are they implying that is part of the sentence and they are not free? Sounds like punishment to me, cruel and unusual. You are basically saying he is not a person and you own him and can control him for the rest of his life?
      These states allow a person to move to a different state where they have to register but what is the difference if someone moves out of country and the country doesn’t require you to register? How does the U.S have jurisdiction over something like that?

  8. PK

    I think the underlying question is:
    “If he completed his sentence and [completed] his probation, can it be legal to keep someone from living internationally? If you require him to register for life are they implying that is part of the sentence and they are not free?”

    It boils down to- if he must continue to register in the State where he left (not the State he was convicted in) even if he no longer lives in that state, works in that state, or pays taxes in that state. So wherever it is, internationally, or even to a different state where he might NOT even be required to register at all- Must he continue to register in the State where he left?

    Does anyone have an answer please?

    • Jason

      I think the question is just “Do you have to register when you leave?” not “Must one continue to register?”

      I see nothing in this case, the law, or any place else that suggests one living abroad would need to continue registering. This guy left the country without telling anyone and the state says he didn’t update when he left.

      Where do you get the idea that paying taxes in a state matters? If you leave the country and continue to pay state taxes, that doesn’t trigger a reporting obligation. I believe it’s simply residing, going to school, or working in a state. I believe (correct me lawyers) that school and work are just physical. If you take classes online, or work 100% online for a company in state, those aren’t registration triggers.

      • PK

        I think that notifying the State from where he departed was probably a requirement, when you move to a different state. I believe the loophole indicated in the article is that the statute didn’t mention anything about leaving the country.

        “I think the question is just Do you have to register when you leave? not- Must one continue to register?”

        So if one leaves the country, and in your view should be required to continue to register, then to what state would they have a duty to continue to register, if they’ve already left that state and the United States Country?

        • Timmmy

          If that was the case, then he would not have violated a federal and not have a federal conviction, but a state one instead.

          I feel the Supreme Court will set his conviction.

        • PK

          I don’t think the Supreme Court will affirm his conviction.

          It’s not his fault that this was not included in the statute of Kansas. So therefore, how in the world would he know that he would be required to notify Kansas about leaving the Country?

          He found a loophole, and seized upon it. Good for him.

        • Jason

          Once you’re out of the country in a non-registration jurisdiction and you complete your final notification requirements, you are done registering and you have successfully found the loophole.

          All this case deals with is the final act of notifying your previous jurisdiction before you leave, which may require they send a letter to your new address in Africa. There is no duty to register (depending on which country you end up in) if you escape after you successfully close out your obligations.

        • PK

          Yes but I don’t believe there is a requirement that he must complete the maximum time on the registry if he leaves the country. He would however have to complete his probation, before he could leave the country, or have his probation transferred.

          “Once you’re out of the country in a non-registration jurisdiction and you complete your final notification requirements, you are done registering and you have successfully found the loophole.”

          That’s not the case in NY, as I was told that I would still be required to stay on the registry in NY regardless if I have left the country.

  9. Mike

    I was required to notify my state ten days before leaving and so I did. I moved to Mexico and was living a great life, with friends and had enough money to enjoy being alive. Until I returned to the US to renew my driver’s license, as I had to do yearly. I had to have a driver’s license to drive with insurance. I was met at the airport and returned. Now I am a prisoner in the USA. I hate living in this country. There is no other word for it, with its increasingly draconian laws.
    Our only hope in our lifetime is the court system as politicians will not be able to provide any relief. Maybe if there was mass petitioning of programs like 60 minutes to educate the public we might get some relief. The politicians sensitivity to public perception is currently inescapable.

    • PK

      I’m confused about this part:
      “I was met at the airport and returned. Now I am a prisoner in the USA.”

      You were met at what airport and returned?

  10. Vladimir

    Hi im mexican and im reading your case and i think that you woud liketo have a new oportunity of life, cuz that is like you are not living or only existing… Forma more information you email me

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