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National

MA: Court Recognizes Harm to Registrants, Rules in Their Favor

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Council, the state’s supreme court, has ruled in favor of registrants who were trying either to terminate their duty to register or to change the tier level on which they were situated. In doing so, the Court recognized that there are significant challenges facing registrants including stigma and legal restrictions that make it more difficult to find stable housing or employment. The Court also recognized that the effects of registration are “continuing, intrusive, and humiliating” and could lead to threats of physical harm. Further, the Court recognized that dissemination of a registrant’s personal information and photo on the internet magnifies these effects.

“The Court’s rulings in these two cases are truly monumental,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci. “They speak the truth that so many courts have avoided.”

In addition to its recognition that the requirement to register causes harm to registrants, the Court determined that registrants have a right to counsel in court hearings when they seek either to have their requirement to register terminated or reclassification to a lower tier. The Court also determined that the government, not the registrant, bears the burden of proving that a registrant poses a current risk of re-offense as well as a degree of dangerousness by “clear and convincing” evidence.

“This is a tougher standard than the ordinary preponderance of evidence applied in ordinary civil cases,” stated ACSOL Board Member and recently retired law professor Ira Ellman.

In its decision, the Court noted that over classification of registrants into higher than necessary tiers “strains public resources.” In the State of Massachusetts, a total of 38 factors are considered in order to determine whether a registrant is required to continue registering. By comparison, the widely used Static-99 uses only 10 factors.

Both of the Court’s decisions were issued on the same day. Separate links to both cases follows below.

Doe v. Sex Ofndr Reg Board – Mass 2018 (terminating registration)

Doe v. Sex Ofndr Reg Board – reclassif – Mass – 2018

Related

MA: Court: Board needs proof in sex offender reclassification

Join the discussion

  1. Hysteria

    Reading this brought tears to my eyes. Someone actually acknowledging what we go through is huge!

  2. norman

    Finally some sanity in an insane situation..

    • Tim L

      Norm, (Mr Pattis I presume)
      The whole SORNA boondoggle was too plotted, planned & deliberate to be a product of insanity. Scape goats for surveillance saints plain and simple.

  3. mike r

    I haven’t even read these yet but it appears everything I have been saying for few years now. Finally people are bringing real suits. and to think it doesn’t even sound like the smith decision and Kennedy’s language or recidividm rates were even mentioned. Just a guess since i haven’t read this yet. I think the court is going to be upset in my case that lays it all out. I like the following right off. I guess they made the point about current photo and addresses. Though they may have not stated it i think those are protected liberty interest.

  4. wonderin

    And even more important is the despicable harm imposed on the innocent children of registrants who’s parent’s manner and behavior indicates they are no longer a threat.

  5. David

    These are great! Finally, courts are beginning to publically acknowledge the obvious and state the truth!!

  6. PK

    Could someone clue me in if this was a Massachusetts State Court Decision or a Case within the 1st Circuit?

    • AJ

      @PK:
      Could someone clue me in if this was a Massachusetts State Court Decision or a Case within the 1st Circuit?
      —–
      State Court of Last Resort: “The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Council, the state’s supreme court….”

      • mike r

        I wonder how the legislature is going to try to spin this with some lame assss attempted fix? It appears to me that the registry is a wrap in MA unless they conduct hearings on every single individual and show by clear and convincing evidence that an individual should be on a registry and poses a significant enough risk. It is interesting because the court is still putting the onus upon the individual to initiate the proceedings with some type of evidence that should be reviewed but does not say what type, just that something has to be different. It could be age, health, time elapsed, etc. Helll I would even say credible recidivism reports by state agencies, or any number of reasons just to get the ball rolling then they have a right to counsel and the due process. I hope CA is taking note that their tiered bill will never pass constitutional muster since they have no classification hearings and no due process whatsoever.

      • PK

        Are the 1st and 2nd Circuits Federal Courts then?

  7. J

    FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you MA

  8. Scam-99

    How do less “risk factors” automatically make a “test” more credible? People are a lot more complicated than 10 — or even 38 — questions.

    My question is whether the 38 risk factors exaggerate less than how the 10 Static-99 “risk factors” exaggerated 500% to 600% for California SVPs. Also, were the 38 risk factors validated by a study (or studies) not enveloped in conflicts of interests, business interests, as well as top “secret” data? Because with the Static-99 and Static-99R, the “studies,” unfortunately, are plagued with conflicts of interests, special interests — and are ultimately protected by the excuse of “trade secret.” With the 38 risk factors, perhaps there was a validation that was less engulfed in corruption.

    Also, note that MA does not give a blanket Tier 3 classification to those that score “high” on its — or any — risk assessment. In MA’s law, the risk assessment boards are required to take the totality of evidence into account — including risk assesment AND expert testimony. Not that implementing an assessment board into California Tiered Registry would help — as doing so would only grow a bureaucratic monster which would only help keep/grow the registry. But maybe the point is that Minority Report pseudo “science” should have no place outside of RSO “treatment” triage.

  9. mike r

    Wow and I have barely started reading this. Exactly what i have been saying, it is on them to prove by “clear and convincing evidence,” my verbatim statement. Matter of fact I say they have to provide this hearing in front of a jury and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person presents more than jut a risk even, but a imminent risk. This is awesome so far….

    • Had 'bout enough

      I don’t think a jury would be good on this issue. they (public) would hang us as soon as they knew what the hearing was about. Questionable if they would even bother to listen or just wait to vote.

      • Matt

        Correct. And low-level judges are not likely to vote in our favor either. Ask Judge Persky about that. Oh wait, you can’t. The voters fired him. This has to go to SCOTUS. That’s the only way. Otherwise it’s just going to wind up like the great bait and switch scam that was the amendment to 290 PC. Give several thousand people a chance to get off the public registry, (But not a real, actual chance that will prevail.) but add another 10,000 or so to the public registry who were not previously on it. People everywhere hate us us. Mostly thanks to politicians and the media. the only way out is through the high court.

        • JonC

          Is the general consensus that no one will get off the CA reformed tiered registry or is that just your viewpoint?

        • Mr. D

          @JonC – while I fully expect there will be examples across the state of California in 2021 of people who should be released from registration that won’t be I also expect there will be plenty of success stories as well. A lot will likely depend on your behavior both pre-and post conviction as well as the county in which you reside in. And for anyone who has a full expungement and dismissal I don’t see how they could possibly deny you.

      • AO

        @Mr. D – “And for anyone who has a full expungement and dismissal I don’t see how they could possibly deny you.”
        _____________________________________________________________________________________

        Well right now, there’s going to be thousands on people on Tier 3 with “expengments” and no way to move down tiers and/or be released. So I wouldn’t be that surprised as CA’s expungment holds almost no real weight when it comes to RC’s.

        • Mr. D

          @AO – well I’m certainly not an attorney I believe the language as a relates to designate in tears has to do with the word conviction or convicted of. That being the case I don’t see how anyone who’s had their charges completely dismissed would not be at a minimum Tier 1. Now I could definitely see the state taking months and potentialy a year or more to try and figure out what tier to put somebody in who’s had a complete dismissal and expungement. But if the state was to take an individual who had as I described above and place them in tier 3 I would believe that’ would put somebody in an excellent position to pursue a lawsuit. I would especially like to hear Janice or Chance’s opinion on this as well.

        • AO

          @Mr. D – I and I’m pretty sure everyone here hopes that you’re correct. Only time will tell how strict they’ll make the release qualifications and process. I’m sure the first year, if not longer, will be fairly chaotic for everyone. It’ll probably take some time and many lawsuits to really finalize everything. But hopefully all the very positive progress that’s been happening elsewhere will leak into CA. Or better yet, all the way to SCOTUS and have the whole damn thing struct down.

  10. mike r

    Pro Se even… Man what a boast…Thank you Janice and team for posting this so quickly. This is exactly what we need, more decisions like this. And apparently MA already requires classification hearings with all the safeguards but this just puts the burden of proof back where it belongs, on the frigging militant gov. Oh soooo beautifully articulated. I bet the judge in my Pro Se case is going to be looking at these other cases going hmmm, giving pause. Especially since CA has no classification hearings at all not even in this wanna be new tiered bill. It is a doomed system and the registry is going down without them proving” by clear and convincing evidence standards” I still love it verbatim what I have stated for years my friends. Beautiful…..

    • Ruben Herrera

      I hope that CA Supreme Court doesn’t ignore this and they see that the government and society have been wrong about this for many years and they finally make a change aside form the tier system.

  11. mike r

    I cannot get over the statement “by clear and convincing evidence” and the current photo and current address statements. Those are protected liberty interest just as I have been saying. This court stated everything our collaboration has been stating in my case. Like I stated they did not even touch on the Smith lies and legislative deceit or the solicitor general’s bogus claims used in McKlune v Lile, or the recidivism reports or issues…..This is really something with the way the court took control of the Pro Se case and even though the guy passed away they continued the case regardless…….Courts are fed up and when the get a real argument in front of them each and everyone of them have struck these laws down. It is a shame it takes a Pro Se to do it with all the supposed civil rights groups out there but hey, like I stated it apparently is going to take hot blooded Americans who are willing to fight regardless to end this crap….Tag I am it in CA…..

  12. mike r

    I love how they say ten years is to long to wait as well…How many things can change in those ten years that could change a persons risk and status.

  13. G4Change

    Somebody please pinch me!!!

  14. Joe123

    Gotta love MA! If there’s ONE thing Massachusetts has been a pioneer in, it’s progressive/forward thinking.

    Wow, compare Massachusetts to pre-historic dinosaur states like Florida. Florida’s ass-backwards thinking isn’t even on the MAP, that’s how far-off they are.

  15. Lance

    I am having trouble finding the text of the MA tiered registry bill. What’s the link for that?

  16. Richard

    Wow,
    You know if we can get Congress to wake up and realize that the S.O.R has been found unconstitutional in some of our country’s top courts and the Millions of dollars it takes to operate and defend the S.O.R then congress could possibly gain support to rewrite the registry to withstand the test of constitutional laws! Just my thoughts!

    • mike r

      I understand what your saying but screw that, we need a good ruling stating the perimeters that the legislature must follow. If they get a chance to rewrite it or amend it, or straight scrap it and start over, there needs a US SC ruling so this does not just move the goal post, no if it is up to the legislative branch on this then it will string out for decades more. I want my case, or a similar case, but I have seen none challenging every issue that I am nor with all the evidence as in my case. Sure would be something to see this half educated Pro Se go argue in front of the US SC and win hands down…I am not settling for anything less then complete removal from the registry and all the associated laws, even one for law enforcement is arbitrary and should only be used after a hearing proving by clear and convincing evidence that the individual should even be on that. Who cares about a law enforcement only registry anyways though, no different then our criminal history they have full access to anyway, just as long as no another restrictions or requirements apply.

  17. Jon

    I’m wondering the same thing too. If the ‘widely used’ Static-99 scam only uses 10 risk factors, then people are pretty limited in what they can change moving forward. You can’t do much to improve yourself so that any of the 10 risk factors go down. At least Massachusetts’ risk assessment takes risk factors that people can change present… and moving forward. You aren’t locked in the past with Massachusetts’ risk assessment; but with the Static scam—you are literally locked in your Static past!

    Either way I agree… do away with minority report bullshit altogether. We all know it’s junk science.

    – j.c.

  18. Tim L

    Harm to one’s name and reputation is a liberty interest and always was despite what the court determined in Alaska v Doe.

    Good name in man and woman, dear my Lord. Is the immediate jewel of their souls; He who steal my purse steals trash, is something and nothing, twas mine, tis his, and has been slave to thousands. But he that flitches from me my good name, robs me of that which not enriches him and makes me poor indeed. -W. Shakespeare – Othello

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