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TX: Texas Supreme Court to hear sex offender law challenge

The Texas Supreme Court will consider a challenge to the state’s retroactive sex offender laws that some say unfairly stack new punishments on those convicted in plea deals. Full Article


TX: For some sex offenders, their deal with the state wasn’t really a deal

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Texas has always been a lost cause. Our elected judges dont care about the US or Texas constitutioms if it gets in the way of re election or offends their church friends. Texas is one of the few states where the constitution forbids BOTH punitive and civil retro laws but they still say its ok for sex offenders. Texas has a majority of scotus cases because its state courts rule against the constitution all the time. They also won’t change due to a scotus ruling. Brown v board of education was ignored for 10 years until congress made a law.… Read more »

Yes. Texas. Land of freedom and independence. Maybe in the early 1800’s. Not now. Dont want to step on any toes, but……….this state is run by the Bible thumping right. No forgiveness. Just punishment.

The title has been updated. “Texas Supreme Court asked to hear sex offender law challenge.” I once had an attorney which said always take cases to the Federal court because those elected judges will never decide in your favor if it means making an unpopular decision which will jeopardize their elected position. This means that court will not be hearing this case.

Didn’t they try this in California and RC lost?

I think the court ruled “State of California” can do whatever they want.

I think I read something like “If this was a murder not a sex case we would have won”

Well I don’t want to get anybody’s hopes down but, I think we all know how this one’s going to turn out.

So I live in Texas. I took a plea deal for 10 years differed adjudication in January of 1994. I’m guessing that this will affect me. I hope it goes well.

Hey Steve,

Yes, you are correct if this is a win you will no longer have to register.
Also there is two other federal lawsuits in the works.


I know about 3:18-cv-629 John Does #1-7 vs Abbott. It has been mentioned here recently. It was John Does #1-153 in the original complaint, I believe. That case was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division.

What is the other Federal court case you referred to?

V. CAUSE NO. 1:18-cv-00504
Capacity as Manager of the Texas
Department of Public Safety-Sex Offender
Registration Bureau; and,
STEVEN McCRAW, in his Official
Capacity as Director of the Texas
Department of Public Safety; and,

Hey CR, Here is a snap shot of the lawsuit. Court Cases to Watch: Hearn v. Castilleja (Filed by Attorney Richard Gladden) U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. Hearn v. Castilleja, No. 1:18-cv-00504-LY (filed June 18, 2018). Unlike prior constitutional challenges which have alleged violations of the Ex Post Facto Clause of the U.S. Constitution (and which have all proved unsuccessful in court), this new lawsuit takes a different legal approach. It contends Texas’ breach of “negotiated plea bargains” entered into prior to 1997, insofar as the plea bargains did not require registration at the time (or… Read more »

kari, thank you for that. That’s another case that wasn’t on my radar. I appreciate the heads up.

Has there been any new news on this article? I can’t find anything. Can anyone else join the lawsuit?

Long Chrisy, the case is moving along but nothing final has happened yet with the court. It appears the plaintiffs might have a chance of winning the case.

Here’s a new SO case (expos facto claim / in person requirements) to keep an eyes on. It’s currently pending cert before US Supreme Court. Hope the Court grant cert on that one

@TSSO4LIFE: Thanks for posting about this case. I recall reading the Decision a while back and hoping it would be petitioned to SCOTUS, but then forgot all about it. Here’s a link to the Petition, which is worth reading: IMO, this case will be a canary in the coal mine for us. It’s a very specific, powerful question to get answered. In-person was one of three prongs in Snyder that made it punitive (school-zone exclusions and offense-based tiers being the other two). I feel if SCOTUS denies cert, it will strengthen the States’ cases around the country and will… Read more »

I agree with your point AJ about the better chance of it being deny of cert. However, given what kavanaugh has been through with his confirmation hearing, I am of optimist that he will be one of votes (crossing fingers) help to grant cert. How he will rule on the matter is another question which i am less optimist. On a side note, here’s another case pending cert grant before scotus …
for some reasons, this case has been on multiple reschedule conference by scotus since 2017.

@TXSO4life: I wasn’t so much saying I’m of the opinion they will deny cert., I was instead saying I fear the outcome IF they deny cert. I’m hopeful they will take it but really have no opinion. That other case (Eaton) being carried over from the previous Term isn’t odd or extraordinary. SCOTUS would have had to have accepted it pretty much right away for it to have been decided by the end of June. I suspect they kept kicking it along in conference because they knew (at least among the Justices) that Kennedy was retiring. Since it wouldn’t be… Read more »

This is cruel and unusual punishment, not just punishment and I wish he would of included that already. “During the week of December 24, 2014, for example, the sheriff’s “Transient Tracking” sheet shows that Mr. Boyd slept in the following locations: “Hwy 9” on Monday; “Concrete apt. #3 behind bakery”2 on Tuesday; “McLaughlin M.V.” on Wednesday; “Lafayette mom’s” on Thursday; “Bro Casey Hwy 9” on Friday; and “Concrete fishing” on Saturday and Sunday. App. 5 n.1.” 45 Frigging months, absolutely cruel and unusual to subject a anyone, let alone a homeless individual, to these impossible to comply with, arduous and… Read more »

@TSSO4LIFE. Yeah, that is a serious case for me. I did not know that was out there. Man I thought they had to at least go thru the 9th before applying for the writ. Learn something new every day. This is incredibly relevant AJ. So I cannot believe the Washington SC denied, I thought they shot down the old version of the registry which in turn the 9th shot it down and then SCOTUS overruled. It seems they would really be down on this. This is ruthless in-person reporting. I am not liking that it does not go into the… Read more »

@mike r:
“I thought they had to at least go thru the 9th before applying for the writ.”
This is a lawsuit in WA State Courts, not Federal Courts. Therefore, the 9th isn’t even involved.
As to your question about how long SCOTUS takes to decide to accept or reject, I can only say it takes them as long as it takes them. Heck, they could even kick it to the next Term if need be or so inclined (doubtful).

AJ once again, how long does it usually take to decide to accept or reject the writ? I see the state still has to respond, and petitioner gets to respond back I believe, but this is going to happen pretty fast I would think. Wow, I wonder if this is already having some kind of effect on my cases time line, like if they are waiting to see what happens here.

@mike r, I’m not AJ, but here are some statistics compiled a couple of years about about SCOTUS relists.

@mike r — “… how long does it usually take to decide to accept or reject the writ?”

Here is a new scotusblog article discussing the statistics of relists, which sheds even more light on why your question doesn’t have a definitive answer.

Wait a minute, why is this on the SCOTUS blog?
Then it states “In the Supreme Court of the United States”
Are we talking about the same case? Am I missing something?

@mike r:
Boyd sued in WA State Court challenging violation of his Federal Constitutional rights. He appealed his case through the WA State Court system, reaching a dead-end in the State Court system when WA SC denied hearing. He is now appealing to the Court of Last Resort for all Federal Claims: SCOTUS. Had Boyd challenged WA under its State Constitution, his appeal process would have ended when WA SC denied.

Here’s more media covetage:

I found this last paragraph especially annoying because the entire point of the lawsuit is that these individuals might NOT have ANY duty to register.
Therefore, they are not being “relieved” of any Duty to register because no Duty existed to begin with!! TPSD attorneys make it sound as if the plaintiff are being given something or receiving some special benefit they’re not entitled to. That is not the case!:
“Texas Department of Public Safety attorneys warn the lawsuit could relieve many “other sex offenders of their duty to register.””

Completely agree.

I do continue to find it funny on an ongoing basis that most people who support the Registries and their criminal regimes really have no clue just what a bunch of stupid douche bags that they are. What they say and do is offensive. Their existence is offensive. I feel sorry for people who know them.

One great thing that the Registries actually do is allow people to see who zealously supports them and thus is a douche bag that should be avoided like a plague.

The very fact that every plea bargain entered before the 2003 U S Supreme Court ruling allowing retroactive sex offender registration on parole or completed sentences was breached because the premise was that is was to be civil and protect society in which is not the case at all. The statutes on the books in all states and federal jurisdiction is punitive and no evidence clear and convincingly show that the registry protects children at all. The Texas Supreme Court will hear the facts laid out to prove that the retroactive application did breach all prior plea bargains not just… Read more »

That is a big “if” the Washington SC denied his Washington constitutional claims. So your telling me he did not include the Washington state constitutional violations as well? WTFFFF? Why would you just challenge the federal violations in state court. That is idiotic to me. Why do all that state court instead of just taking the federal claims straight to the federal courts. I do not presume the state court considers state constitutional violations unless specifically included in the complaint, right? Complete waste of time when you know it is just going to go straight to federal court. Even if… Read more »

This Texas case is pretty interesting though… Is this Texas case just on the narrow contract clause issue or is it claiming the retroactive punishment issue as well? I have not read the case but from the following statement it appears it may just be on a contract clause, or whatever clause keeps them from changing a plea deal. They state specifically in the article that “Every qualifying sex offender was ordered onto the registry in 2005 after Texas expanded its sex offense laws. >>But that included some defendants who were promised in deals with prosecutors that they wouldn’t have… Read more »

@mike r: — “It seems as though they will prevail on the plea agreements deal. That is a contract with the state and every provision is just that, a provision that was agreed to. Blatant violation of a contractual agreement.” We hope they prevail, but I think it is by no means certain. Apparently a similar claim did not prevail in California. Did you not read where Janice posted earlier today that the California Supreme Court “… ruled that a plea bargain is a contract that can be unilaterally changed by the government, but not the registrant.” I don’t… Read more »

Does anyone know: If you are no longer required to register in your current state, then move to Texas, are you subject to registration laws as a new resident of Texas?

If you read the Texas registration statute ( Chapter 62 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, ), you will find that your registration status in the state you are coming from is never mentioned. It is irrelevant to the state of Texas. If you have a reportable conviction or adjudication that meets the criteria spelled out in Chapter 62, you will have to register. This is how most states operate. A person who has a “[r]eportable conviction or adjudication … based on” a long list of violations of Texas statutes, OR who meets the following criteria would have to… Read more »

Thank you for this. So, does that mean, depending on your offense, the registration clock starts all over for you when you move to Texas, ie, 10 years, or 15 years, or 20 years, or life, or whatever their tier structure is?

@HopingForHope: Some (Many?) States say the registration period from another State has no bearing on its term, and some say you serve the longer of theirs or your convicting State. However, both of these would seem to fly in the face of the 14th Amendment and the Privileges and Immunities Clause, and perhaps the fundamental right to Freedom of Travel. If a State imposes different standards on you as a migrant, simply because of your migrant status (i.e. exercising your right to travel) than it would on a similarly situation native, there’s a Constitutional problem. I’m not saying the State… Read more »

AJ- Yes, please do so. Thank you for your help with this. We’re fortunate to have so many informed participants on this forum. Reading statutes is like reading Greek if you are totally non-lawyerly, like me.

Here you go: This file was uploaded from a small repository I keep, thus the parenthetical in the filename. The file itself was downloaded from PACER (Fed Court e-Docs), so it’s “clean.”

Keep in mind this is an ongoing case, and this document is only a preliminary injunction…NOT a decision.
However, it does address the disparity in treatment between natives and migrants.

That is a good case that they should win. If they do, anyone convicted of a sex offense before 1995 should move there to get off the registry since at least that state’s judiciary properly recognized the ex post facto issues. Also, those convicted after 95 may also get off registration if their particular offense was not registerable in Indiana at that time. Nothing like a good sex offender migration to stir the pot and show how rediculous the differences are between states treatment of those convicted of sex crimes and how the registry probably shouldnt be deamed constitutional in… Read more »

Thanks AJ. I had never seen this injunction ruling before. Amazing. I wonder what has become of the case, seeing as that’s about 7 months ago now. If won, this could be helpful to those on the WI registry (offense committed there) who no longer live in WI but are required under WI statutes to continue registering there AND in their state of residence indefinitely. The WI statutes differentiate people convicted in state vs. out of state ( Would you see that as an Equal Protection issue? See 301.45 (5) for “convicted in state”. Then a few years later 301.45… Read more »

@E: “I had never seen this injunction ruling before. Amazing. I wonder what has become of the case, seeing as that’s about 7 months ago now.” —– I’ve posted this case a few other times on here, mostly in discussion post-Muniz in PA. Yes, the case is ongoing, with no real progress of late–I check on it now and then. Last update was August 10, 2018, but nothing major happened. I don’t know why it’s been sitting dormant so long; perhaps they are in negotiation for a settlement or maybe now they’re hunkered down preparing their cases with the injunction… Read more »

Thanks AJ. So helpful. “Also, where is the section saying you have to register even if you move away?” ============= Nowhere. Literally. It’s just how it’s been interpreted by DOC (which is the agency administering it, your other question). There is no language that says you CAN deregister when leaving the state, so they say you cannot deregister. Sick! What makes this quite tough for a POTR is that the two registry schemes we them live under (2 states) are DIFFERENT. I suffer near-PTSD wondering if I’m updating things correctly under two different statutes that require me to give them… Read more »

@E: “There is no language that says you CAN deregister when leaving the state, so they say you cannot deregister.” —– IIRC, this is the same logic used in NY, but I think there it was formally adjudicated in response to a lawsuit. Perhaps one of our NY POTRs on here can help with that. I get that they rely on the law saying those convicted in WI of such-and-such must register until X time, but at some point they lose authority over someone outside the jurisdiction. If not, what’s to stop them from saying anyone born in WI must… Read more »

AJ, thank you!!!! I’d buy you a beer, brother… I’ll keep mulling on this.

Your comment on standing would be the ultimate irony. I’ve lost standing because I’m not a resident. But I can’t deregister even as a nonresident. Cue “What a Wonderful World”

@E: “I’ve lost standing because I’m not a resident.” —– No, if you’ve lost standing it’s due to the passage of time, regardless your WI residency. The limitations are State by State and the Federal courts usually adhere to the standards of the State. Some States it’s as short as 2 years, some may be as much as 7 years. ===== I still think it would be helpful to look into the “header statutes” of the WI Code to see if it mentions anywhere to whom the laws apply. It may be silent on it, but if it in any… Read more »

Does anyone know if there is any new news on the Texas SC on retroactive SOR and the plea bargain deals that had a limit on registration time?

Does anyone know ant updates with this challenge lawsuit?

Hearn et al v. Castilleja et al 1:18-cv-00504 is currently set for bench trial on 08/27/2019. The last activity on this case was when the judge dismissed a motion to dismiss and a motion for summary judgement in March (3/28/2019) and set the trial date.

I presume the two dismissed motions were from the state, but I can’t read the motions or the related orders. I can only see a summary on here (costs $50 per month for full access):

@CR: “I presume the two dismissed motions were from the state, but I can’t read the motions or the related orders.” —– The Motion to Dismiss was from the State; the Motion for Summary Judgment was from the RC/Plaintiff. That data is readily available on the URL you supplied. You just need to cross-reference the Document numbers (6, 15) to earlier in the posted Docket. Here is a URL where you can see the entire court Docket as contained in PACER: . If there’s something of particular interest, I may be willing to get it for you (or in… Read more »

@AJ, thank you for the copy of the docket, and for pointing out what should have been obvious to me from the page I referenced.

No need to download anything on my account. I’m content to wait for the final ruling.

Ok, so I’m a bit confused by these responses referencing this Hearn et al v. Castilleja case out in West Texas. This supreme court case this thread was started about is based on a case from a guy named Curtis and another guy named Donnie Miller. Here is a media link with info on the Texas Supreme Court case:

Ok, so now I am really confused. I have been searching for this information that the Texas Supreme court has taken up the case for a sex offender law challenge, and I ran across this AP article saying that it’s been corrected, and that they haven’t decided to take it up.

So is it something we’re waiting for a ruling on or not?

Hearn v. Castilleja will be heard on August 27th at the Federal Court House in Austin. This is the suit that will potentially relieve about 3800 registrants in Texas. This is a suit that claims that essentially a contract was broken for those people who’s conditions of probation stated that they would have to register for the term of that probation, but that the requirement to register would expire when their probation expired. This case is one that should be a pretty clear win. Once it’s won it’s my understanding that there will be an appeal and it will be… Read more »

I believe it should also apply to those who have no mention of registration in their plea agreement at all because at the time of their agreement there was no registry, or the law at the time did not require registration for their offense, or because it was a deferred adjudication and the law applied for their offense only in the case of conviction. Those people also relied upon the specific terms of their agreement in exchange for their plea.

@CR , You may be right, but the case is being argued on that narrow scope that I mentioned. If it’s won then it might be appealed to in a suit that covers that larger scope that you mentioned.

Steveo how/where did you find out how many defendants had the plea deals limited the registration time?

@Chris Jones – From a phone conversation with the lawyer who brought the suit.

My best guess is that it’s people who went through the system from the 1990 to 1995 range. My case was in 1994, and I am one of the people who would be relieved. If you think you might be, get your probation conditions paperwork and look at it.

My case was deferred adjudication probation in July 1997. I was to only register 10 after my probation end. Completed probation in 2007 and 2017 was supposed to be my last year to register until they changed the law in 2006. My paperwork doesn’t state anytime table but my lawyer told me conditions of my plea deal. And it was in the system that 2017 was my last year to register. It’s all BS. If people know the state can do what they want when they want more people would have considered to take their chances and fight the charges.… Read more »

Chris, here is more information about the case I got off of TexasVoices: U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. Hearn v. Castilleja, No. 1:18-cv-00504-LY (filed June 18, 2018). Unlike prior constitutional challenges which have alleged violations of the Ex Post Facto Clause of the U.S. Constitution (and which have all proved unsuccessful in court), this new lawsuit takes a different legal approach. It contends Texas’ breach of “negotiated plea bargains” entered into prior to 1997, insofar as the plea bargains did not require registration at the time (or limited a person’s duty to register to the length… Read more »

I am not in, nor from Texas, though I have visited several times. When I pled ‘no contest’ in 1995, I was not required to register. Six months later, my probation officer told me I had to register immediately or I was going to Jail. Since Texas had no qualms about ignoring obvious Ex Post Facto violations, I’m not sure why they would fret over ignoring “negotiated plea bargains”. I’m sure most all of us with convictions from that era, if we’d had any inkling of what was to come, would have ignored any “deals” or “promises” and gone for… Read more »

Steveo, yeah I see that. I remember when I first got on probation my PO said I was lucky my case was done be September 1 1997 cause they had changed some laws but said it only affected people coming on after September 1 1997. I also think everyone that was placed on deferred adjudication probation before 2006 their duty to register had an expiration date. Mine was supposed to end 2017. That’s was the main reason a took it knowing it wasn’t going to be a conviction and I’ll be done with everything by time I’m 38. I was… Read more »

@Chris jones: “my PO said I was lucky my case was done be September 1 1997 cause they had changed some laws but said it only affected people coming on after September 1 1997.” Just to clarify, the law change in 1997 was mostly prospective, but it also applied to those who, like me, were still under supervision as of the effective date of the law. My plea and deferred adjudication was in 1992. I was not required to register at the time, and there is no mention of registration in my plea agreement. I was forced to start registering… Read more »

Steveo, any word on what happened with the hearing?

@CR I feel your pain. It’s been 27 since your crime. That’s enough time. Mine has been 22 years. That’s enough time. It’s not right that the states gets to keep playing with people’s lives. I definitely didn’t sign up for lifetime registration. I was never convicted of the crime so why do I have to treated as I have. Everyone that had Expiration date on the registration before 2006 law change needs to have the opportunity to get off as long as they haven’t committed any other sex crimes. Deferred adjudication probation was supposed to give people a second… Read more »

@Chris Jones

**This is what happened according to Mary from Texas Voices who went to it:**

I attended the Hearn v. Castilleja hearing today in Austin at the federal courthouse. We will have to wait (hopefully just a short while) before we have a decision. The judge has requested additional filings from DPS. DPS will have 7 days to file and then Richard will have 10 days to respond. Personally, I could not get a read on which way the judge is inclined to rule but Richard did a fantastic job as usual.

More info to follow

I got my fingers crossed!!

Steveo do you have the link to the hearing? I can’t find it.

Steveo you the man, is there any news on the case?

@Chris Jones —- Not sure if you saw this update I put on general a few days back: Just FYI, per the Hearn v Castilleja case in Texas where the issue is registered citizens who before 1997 have a clause in the conditions of their probation stating that once probation ends their requirement to register ends. The a decision from the judge is still pending. Though it seemed like things were finished after Sept 27th, both sides have filed further motions and documents, which has protracted any ruling. There’s technically no time limit on how long it can take for… Read more »

They also need to honor the Texas Constitution:



Sec. 16. BILLS OF ATTAINDER; EX POST FACTO OR RETROACTIVE LAWS; IMPAIRING OBLIGATION OF CONTRACTS. No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, >>> retroactive law <<<, or any law impairing the obligation of contracts, shall be made.

Texas is one of only 9 states that smartly added No Retroactive Law. Technically, that covers everything civil that ex post facto missed in Smith V Doe. But….then the challenge failed in court anyway. They cited one example of how water rights for land could be altered retroactively to protect the states water supply to avert a crisis. Thats it. Somehow any law affecting a registered person rises to the level of state crisis and ones freedom and liberty and not just some natural Commodity. Thats what we get with all elected state judges that want to keep their job.

@ChrisJones : Sorry, I do not know of a link to any audio or anything from the hearing. I’ll let you know as soon as I hear something. Better yet, if you or anyone else that sees this is a registered citizen in the state of Texas, then you should sign up and ask to get on the mailing list of Texas Voices so that you will get any news are be a part of any efforts in Texas to help. Here is a link:

Thanks. I’m going to sign up. But if you hear anything keep us posted if you don’t mind.

Steveo have you found anything on the hearing? I can’t find anything.

Go to Texas Voices website under legal news and you will find the latest on the lawsuit.

Thanks, I just read it. I really hope the court rules that everyone that agreed to deferred adjudication probation before 1 September 1997 has doesn’t have to register under their plea deal that’s had expiration dates. Mine was register 10 years after I got off probation which was July 2007 and last time to register was July 2017. It’s a bunch of bull shit.

I just read it too. It appears to be a status report that contains a list of contested and uncontested facts and assertions. But what I don’t understand is what it means. Does this filing bode ill or well on a favorable outcome of this case? What is next in the case?

I know the coronavirus epidemic but does anyone knows what’s going on with the Hearn v Castilleja? Any information will be greatly appreciated. Thanks

CR. I’m wondering the same thing. Hopefully Richard Gladden will have some great news to post soon.

I was confuses by the Substantive Due Process part of the challenge. How could Richard file that challenge without specifying what fundamental rights were infringed on to require substantive due process was required?

I believe they needed to clearly explain things like the right to privacy and inability to get jobs or travel where they wanted to due to the registry. I fear this could just be dismissed. If dismissed, I would hope it would be dismissed without prejudice so that they can file it all over again and start from scratch.

@Chris f, I would cut and paste if I were not doing this on a tablet. I can’t figure out how to cut from a PDF doc on my ancient tablet… Take a look at: Richard spells it out in there, first few pages. I got part of it … “The Supreme Court [in Santobello v. New York] held that a plea of guilty induced by a promise of the government in a plea bargain is a binding obligation contractual in nature on the government. If a court’s decision is made in response to such a plea of guilty,… Read more »

Thanks CR!

I will read through that and hopefully that will clear up my lack of understanding.

Per the: Hearn et al v. McCraw et al case….. …… It looks like they’ve been busy. You’re welcome to create a free account on the Pacer system and look up the goings on yourself. I am certainly no lawyer, but the motions and counter motions have been flying for weeks. It looks like that it’s all somehow wound up in another judges court (Judge Mark Lane) , and that there is an important hearing tomorrow (Nov 21st), so if your a person who prays, then pray for that. I can’t say how things are going, but motions to dismiss,… Read more »

That’s some good news. I’ve been looking around but couldn’t find anything. Hopefully this holds up cause a deal is a deal.

Steveo can’t find anything on pacer. Is there any new news?

@ChrisJones: The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas’ lawsuit is still going through the court and after multiple filed motions we are awaiting a decision from the judge.


I think we lost the lawsuit?

Steveo , signed up for on that pacer account but can’t find the Hearn v Castilleja case or anything on it. How do you look it up?

Steveo, hey I got a pacer account but I can’t find the Hearn v Castilleja case. When I tried to look it but it says not found. Any suggestions?

@Chris jones:
Try this URL:

It has some of the court docs available as PDF. It also lists the case number and which District Court heard it. Having that info should solve your problem.


Hey does anyone knows what’s going on with the Hearn v Castilleja case?

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x