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MI: Attorney General Nessel Weighs in On Sex Offender Registration Cases Before MI Supreme Court

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed amicus briefs in the Michigan Supreme Court today in Michigan v Snyder (Case number 153696) and People v Betts (Case number 148981), arguing that Michigan’s sex offender registration and notification requirements are punishment because they are so burdensome and fail to distinguish between dangerous offenders and those who are not a threat to the community. Full Announcement


Attorney General: Michigan Sex Offender Registry too broad, lost effectiveness

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  1. AO

    Wow, the AG filed this? Isn’t the AG the one that’s usually on the defending side of the registry as a matter of principle, if nothing else?

    • matthew

      I am in total shock.

    • Josh

      @all Michigan registrants
      This is beyond encouraging! She defended registrants and was attempting to get people off the registry in her private practice before she was elected attorney general. It was used to attack her during the campaign…As our first openly gay elected official this is a person who understands discrimination and prejudice. In this age of persecution, to have a elected official come out against the registry in it’s current state is almost INCOMPREHENSIBLE!!!! I want to be cautiously optimistic but it’s hard to not get excited…..there is a light at the end of the
      tunnel for us…

      • AO

        Wow, I didn’t realize that was AG’s history. Now it makes more sense on the stance. Especially since the birth of the registry as a whole was specifically against the gay community.

  2. Trapped in the USA

    I almost fell out of my chair when I saw was the Attorney General writing that. Completely unexpected.

  3. Timothy

    The intent of SORNA may be regulatory in nature but the effect of the regime output
    That renders it punitive lies in the regime’s paradigm shift in man’s relation to machine. whereby under SORNA registrants experience state’s machines need outweighs their human needs.
    HN>MN = null is congruent with a nation of free men.
    meanwhile it’s inverse is not

    MN>HN= null will never be congruent with free men.

  4. wonderin

    I think I’m in love.

  5. JoeHillsGhost

    Well, that is certainly unexpected from a state Attorney General. For the sake of all the folks in Michigan, I hope this is an indication of positive changes to come.

    • j

      for the sake for all the folks in Michigan, how about the entire u.s, why put a limit to one city.

      • RegistrantNotAnOffender

        Well Obviously she is the Attorney General of Michigan so she can’t directly bring change to the rest of the US. We have to start somewhere its pretty childish to complain “what about me?”

  6. Aman

    This is encouraging. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and this is a step in the right direction. Common sense and compassion are yet alive and well. Let’s keep a close eye.

  7. WTF?

    Did I go to sleep and wake up in an alternate universe?
    When does A Law Enforcement official argue logic!

    • Josh

      one more important point that needs to highlighted here….At the bottom of the article she’s says the magic word “PUNITIVE”…that’s HUGE for us and can hopefully be referenced and used across the country in efforts going forward!

  8. Steveo

    It would have been more impressive if it had been a conservative, but I think a statement from a state attorney general be very encouraging. Hopefully their supreme court will agree. One of the best statements was this: “A number of state supreme courts have struck down their state registry laws on similar grounds.” That is sooooooo significant, and the more that keep doing it the closer many of us are to relief. It’s been 25 years for me. This lifetime registration stuff has really caused a lot of harm for me and my family over the years, and is continuing to hinder me as I just try to get on with my life.

    • Josh

      I do agree with that it would be better coming from a conservative politician….but the fact that ANY politician has said it, is good enough for me..if you’re in Michigan as I am and you’ve got 25 years in as myself, Bobby, and a handful of others than you should be pretty optimistic about seeing some tangible changes to your situation this year!

      • Timothy

        You two will catch my drift when I reference Saratoga Springs. All sitting there soaking up data, including biometrics, voice prints logarithm, known associations, medical records, you name it. All in the background and NOT SECURE.

  9. Harry

    I hope this will encourage backbone growth.

    • Timothy

      @Harry, Spine growth presumes them that embraced it had a spine to begin with.
      I truly suspect the inverse was the case in OMNIBUS94. When I questioned our Senator about his” nay ” vote on above; his response to me was 1 word and a head shake, “unfathomable” was the word he used. His vote cost him party support the next cycle and he lost in the primary. There were very few did vote may onOMNI94.

    • Josh

      My wife woke me up this morning way too early after reading through both the amicus briefings….I have read through both as well. These are explosive!!!!!! These are a blue print for the beginning of the end of $ex offense registries….I know, I know….for some dick-headed small minded politicians this will change nothing in their quests to appear tough on crime come election time. Especially when it comes to the low hanging fruit which is all of us and our loved ones….my wife, who is as jaded and affected by this registry as anyone could be, actually woke up with a smile on her face and hope for the first time since 2011 when I was informed that I was being extended to lifetime registry requirements. As I stated previously, Dana Nessel is exactly the person I was hoping she would don’t compile compelling arguments like this in just one month on the job. This is obviously a continuation of the work she was doing as a defense attorney before her election. She was attacked viciously during her campaign for her stance and representation of registrants. If you get a chance, please read these briefs as they state our case as CLEARLY as I’ve ever seen…God Bless!

      • Bobby

        @josh, This is great news for all of us, and hopefully the Country eventually. I go back in March to. Check in with my local PD. So it’s going to be interesting to see how they react when I bring this up to them. My guess is they will act dumb as always, but am looking forward to their answers. I know it probably wont be fixed my June 19th, which is when it will be 27 years for me on these stupid thing, but at least we can see the light now. Also I was wondering could you post those links to Ms. Nessel’s briefs please if possible, I would like to read them. Thanks.

        • Josh

          They’re attached to the main article on this site…or you can find them on the site…

  10. Jason

    The best part of all that Nessel has said is that it is ALL TRUE!!!!!!!!

  11. Dennis

    Whats very interesting was that she even quoted the US Solicitor General’s comment regarding the US Supreme court denial of cert, who even said in so many words that Michigan’s registry is way beyond punishment.

    Josh, I told you she was going to do this. She was a prosecutor for many years, besides being a defense attorney. She knows the law makes NO SENSE. Meanwhile every other democratic AG (including New York) is all for a harsh registry. One good thing I can say about New York though is that they are based on INDIVIDUAL ASSESSMENTS, and have always been.

    I was sentenced under the Holmes Youthful Training act. Therefore my records are sealed, I have no conviction, but still have to register and be listed on the public registry. My name will not come up on a background check. Employers, etc would have to search the registry to get that information (which they do). It makes no sense! Ive had employers ask me, “how do you not show up on a background check, but you’re listed on the registry? Fortunately, after explaining to them about my sealed record, and giving them my court documentation which specifically states that, they are always BAFFLED. As a result, I’m hired.

    These are some of the issues among many others, that the ACLU is working with the legislature to have those in this situation removed.

    • NY won’t let go

      NY’s individual assessments are bullshit. They harass you and put you on trial again basically for the original offense not your current level of dangerousness. This is if you actually go through with the hearing. They do not take into account the years that have gone by or what good you have done with your life. It’s just a way that they can say that they did their job so it’s not “unconstitutional”

      • Dennis

        NY Wont let go,

        Wow, I did not know that. Thank you for that information. I was planning on moving there in July. A well known attorney I spoke with in NYC advised me, after reviewing my case, that I would most likely be on the Level 1 Non-public registry for 20 years. I only would be on there for 5 years tho, since they count Michigan’s time on the registry. Even with being on a “non-public” registry, cruise ships, etc would still probably deny me since their security they use to review the passenger manifest prior to departure are pretty much law enforcement officers who would then be able to see that information. Maybe I’ll just wait until I’m possibly removed from Michigan’s registry this summer, due to legislative changes, before I relocate to New York.

        • Ny won’t let go

          My lawyer that I had at the time said that with all of my character witnesses and letters from colleagues, friends, family, therapy groups, my previous PO and some public figures I should have been a tier 1 or off of the registry. They tried to bump me up to a tier 3 because I was contesting the tier two they assessed me as. In the end I was placed as a tier 2 and stuck on the registry for life even after moving out of the state. I should have just moved straight out of the country from Michigan. Even if you get off the Michigan registry you’re at the mercy of the NY court system if you move there. Just to finish all the hearings to get my tier it took almost a year.

          One thing that was good about the NY registry is the police in charge of it in NYC were really chill. The state cops are dicks though. After I left they were trying to enact a residency restriction in the state though that would make it almost impossible to live in NYC, not sure how that turned out. When I was living there there was no restriction on work or living besides not being allowed to drive/operate an ice cream truck

        • Scotus Save Us Now

          Also depends where you live. If you are on long island the cops release your info to Parents for Megan’s law who put it on their public website, i believe in violation of the law but can’t afford to fight it.

    • New York Level 1

      NY wanted to put me in tier 2 when I moved from VA.

      They based this on things I had copped to in my mandated polygraph in VA. Hence paying a guy I hooked up with after he asked me at the end of the night 1 time became “using a prostitute”, which NY turned into “using prostitutes” and therefore part of the justification for tier 2. My expensive private attorney and I countered with dozens of character references and expensive psych evaluations, and the judge ruled for tier 1.

      Afterwards the ADA came over and APOLOGIZED to me and my lawyer, saying “we just needed to get the DA’s position on record”

      So yeah, NY has individualized assessments, but it’s far from fair.

      • NY won’t let go

        Luckily you got a judge that took things into consideration. For mine the DA they had wasn’t prepared as they had never had someone contest their tier assignment. They called in their head from Albany for mine. Then kept postponing. In total I went to court 12 times just to have a prosecutor tell me I was one of the most dangerous people in the world etc etc who then tried to say that my character witnesses were having sexual relations with me which made me sick to my stomach. During the questioning they acted like they didn’t know what a plea bargain(I took a plea for something I didn’t do -Assault with intent- because somehow it was a lesser charge than consensual intercourse with a minor) was and used that to say I never owned up to my crime as I had a no contest plea from out of state. (NY doesn’t recognize NC pleas btw)

        When I got back to the registering office they were confused how I wasn’t a level 1 because to them I was going to be the least of their worries.

  12. Richard

    With Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed amicus briefs in the Michigan Supreme Court in Michigan v Snyder (Case number 153696) and People v Betts (Case number 148981), arguing that Michigan’s sex offender registration and notification requirements are punishment because they are so burdensome and fail to distinguish between dangerous offenders and those who are not a threat to the community. And there is Whether the federal Sex Offender Registration, and Notification Act’s delegation of authority, to the attorney general to issue regulations under 42 U.S.C. § 16913 violates the nondelegation doctrine. Look for this in June 2019 Decision and then there is also Sex offender cases in Pennsylvania are being remanded in the wake of Commonwealth v. Muniz, the PA case which found their registry unconstitutional under the ex post facto clauses of the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions.This is some of the bigger things going on now unless I missed something I know of some State supreme court challenges that are still in limbo with what is going on now I can see this mountain of B.S starting to crumble!

    • Bill

      Wow, Wow didn’t expect this heard about it yesterday, but was happy I did, I think I may have smiled Been going through this nonsense since 1992, was about to be done 11/11/2019, then they added 10 more years???????? Have the paper saying I’ll be done,then added 10 more years so is changed to 35 years??? what a mess,waste of time, life , money!! And I’m told we cant sue, American!

  13. Steveo

    The first sentence in the introduction of the amicus brief filed by the attorney general states: “The tides are changing” 😀

  14. todd

    Blessed !!!!

  15. G4Change

    I thought this was the mother of all typos. Now I realize that this is real. Praise God that the truth is now prevailing!

  16. David M

    The briefs refer to “individuals with sex offense convictions” and “registrants” and not “sex offenders.

  17. mike r

    Finally an AG and Solicitor General standing up and doing their jobs that they were created to do. Protect citizen rights. Amazing day. I guess she did not think the last suit went far enough, which it did not.

    • Josh

      @AJ & Mike R
      I know AJ explained the whole situation to Bobby concerning the Betts & Snyder cases that are scheduled for hearings by the Michigan Supreme Court but what are the implications now for those cases with the added weight of these amicus briefs? Could Michigan’s Supreme Court justices still rule against these two plaintiffs in the face of the top legal/law officer in state….they would have to be plumb dumb….I’ve read both briefs and these are some of the best most compelling arguments I’ve ever read…I’d like to hear what you fellas.think about all this….

      • Chris f

        Mike R and AJ are more researched in this area than I am, but I would guess those cases would have to have the brief added to their case through some type of judulicial notice if it isnt too late.

        On the plus side, the judges will likely hear about this anyway. It finally gives the judges a green light to actually look into the issues now that an elected official has said the truth. Prior to that, they had to appease the legislature or else the legislature would push laws and rules to further weaken the judiciary as punishment to them. This is why all past obvoliously unconstitional laws against blacks and gays were able to stand so long.

        Yet another indicator that a real tide turning has taken place and lawyers worth their degree can actually start doing their jobs if they were sitting on the sidelines.

      • AJ

        I gotta think this is going to tip things significantly in favor of the POTRs. I suspect MI SC is going to hear it and decide it once and for all, leaving the MI Legislature and Exceutive (read: State Police) have to hide. IMO, if the Court decides contrary to the 6th, the Court will look pretty stupid when SCOTUS remands it to be reheard in accordance with the 6th’s Opinion.

        I’m thinking it’s been a pretty crappy weekend for the People’s attorneys. 🙂

        @Chris f:
        I’m not sure what you mean about, “those cases would have to have the brief added to their case.” The MI SC has already accepted the AG’s amici, as indicated by the blue text on the right margin of the amici (also see docket entry 37 at In fact, according to docket entry 21, the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan (CDAM) and Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan (PAAM) are also invited to chime in. Seems MI SC wants it ALL on the table.

        • Notorious D.I.K. / Kennerly

          AJ, you and your acronyms 🙂 I’ll probably feel really silly when you tell me this but what the hell is “POTRs?” I went to Google and the Urban Dictionary offered me two very whimsical, if almost certainly WRONG, interpretations.

        • AJ

          @Notorious D.I.K. / Kennerly:
          🙂 It’s not my acronym. Someone else on here started as a replacement to RC, which apparently is held in some disfavor, and I’ve just gone along. POTR = person/persons/people on the registry/registries. I’m up for whatever term is most agreeable…or perhaps least disagreeable.

          And for the record, CDAM and PAAM also are not mine, having come from the Michigan Supreme Court’s (MI SC’s) website.

        • E

          I like POTR. I came up with it and felt very proud when the inimitable AJ started using it!! (smile)

        • Notorious D.I.K. / Kennerly

          E, it makes sense. You might want to look at the Urban Dictionary definitions, however (there are two different ones). ////

        • Will Allen

          Well, very glad people are thinking of options. I think a consistent branding would be very helpful in the war.

          But I’ll be blunt and say I don’t care for POTR. Let me throw out why and you can see what you think:

          1. Too nice. Too factual and boring.

          2. “the Registry” is not accurate. There are already multiple Registries. There is going to be more. So “a Registry” would be more accurate.

          3. Sounds awkward to me. I think “Person Listed On A Registry” would be better. But not sure that covers multiple Registries.

          4. Too close to POTUS. Very negative connotations.

          5. Some people might prefer PotR (like a title)?

          “Registered Citizen” sort of works for me because:

          1. Easy, short, not inflammatory.

          2. Accurate.

          3. Points out that we are, in fact and reality, citizens. No different than other citizens.

          But I don’t like the “citizen” part of that because we aren’t really citizens.

          So I prefer “Registered Person”. I think that more “normalizes” it, as well. And could even lead people to wonder what it is about. They might say, “Oh, you are a Registered Person? For what?” Then you can tell them that you are listed on ONE of big government’s hit lists. Which one? We’ve got a number of them today and more are coming. “Registered Person” can mean that you are listed on multiple hit lists.

          Lastly, I like “Person Registered for Harassment, Restrictions, and Punishment” for these reasons:

          1. Damn accurate. Says exactly what the Registries are about, for, and do.

          2. Statement is in direct opposition to the lies of public safety and protecting children.

          3. PRHRP makes an impression on people. I know that people remember reading/seeing it. They may not remember what it stands for, but they remember the idea.

          4. It’s inflammatory. People need a daily reminder that the Registries are not existing without “innocent” people paying for it every day.

          5. PRHRP is a palindrome. Those draw interest.

          I think if PRHRP was repeated over and over and over again, for years, people will come to know what it is about and those who don’t will wonder and oftentimes ask. It’s not boring. It’s not conciliatory.

          In summary, what do you all think about using RP if want to be nice/PC and PRHRP if not? That’s what I’m doing.

        • E @ D.I.K. and Will

          @ David: HOLY SMOKES!!!! I AM NEVER USING POTR AGAIN!!! That is awful. Thanks for the heads up. Talk about unintended meanings…. literally just gave me the creeps to realize the unintentional trouble that would brew. Wow.

          @ Will: I think “Registered Person/People” is what most are gravitating to…

        • TS

          Registrants works just fine too if you’re needing a term

        • BM

          @AJ – Where are you finding links to the briefs in PDF? I went to the case page for Betts and Snyder and do see the information, but nothing I can open and read. I have read the AG / ACLU briefs but there is another I’m curious to read from a county prosecutor in Snyder (docket 78), yet as with the others it doesn’t have a link to open it?

        • AJ

          @Notorious D.I.K. / Kennerly:
          Too funny on the Urban Dictionary definitions. Whoops! Yeah, ix-nay on OTR-Pay. Back to RC I go.

          @Will Allen: PRHRP is phonetically too close to “perp” for my liking. Kind of like saying it while slightly belching.

  18. Bobby

    I was basically going to ask the same question that Josh as brought up. So now that Ms Nessel, has written two briefs how will that effect Betts and Snyder that are scheduled to be heard on on either March 6th or 7th, according to the schedule, also I realize no one really knows but now the Michigan’s AG has spoken and in our favor surprisingly, any idea on how much longer it should take to finally be over at least here in Michigan. Then we can start working on the rest of the states as well.

  19. Richard

    I saw this and wonder now if Dana Nessel still has the support of democratic ags Would it help to start a email campaign to other Dem. AGs asking for there continued for support for Dana Nessel and there support on ridding these unconstitutional public safety measures. aka additional punishment!

  20. TS

    Someone please get these to SCOTUS to read by each justice!!

    At the same time, I hope those cases that have not been opined on yet and published, which registrants are waiting for, have these two briefings provided to be read by the justices. That probably is not the system but one can always hope.

  21. AJ

    This is resoundingly good news! There seem to be cracks developing in the story line the States have been using for years. It only takes bold, honest people like AG Nessel (and the SC legislator with his registry reduction Bill) to step forward and get the ball rolling. I truly believe this can be the start of a trend where the judicial and executive branches start pushing back on the legislative branch–I certainly hope so!

    One thing that makes me scratch my head is if the AG, the Solicitor General and the Assistant SG for the State are on the side of ACLU and the POTRs, who the heck is arguing for the People/State? That’s usually a task for one of the three above-named parties. Is it being handled by an Asst. AG? Some County/District DAs? Regardless, it seems to set up an interesting tangle within the executive branch and DoJ in MI!

  22. mike r

    Yeah what the hell? Who is the people’s attorney? The AG’s department I thought was the people’s attorney. How the hell is that working. LMAO. This is sooo cool. Love it. It cannot hardly get any better than that. An AG challenging her own state law. Hmmm. Of course this is going directly into my brief.

    “Plaintiff wishes to include key statements by Attorney General Dana Nessel, Solicitor General Fadwa A. Hammoud, and Assistant Solicitor General Ann M. Sherman, from the State of Michigan challenging Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry. With all due respect, Defendant should admire Attorney General Nessel’s courage to admit the truth, and to attempt to do something about it. Although there are not residency restrictions embedded in the challenged statute at issue in Plaintiff’s case the same reasoning applies in his case:”

    Once again, LOOOOOVE IT……

    • E

      Had the same thought. Normally, AGs and Solicitors General stand up and defend the indefensible (asinine state laws). So exciting to see an AG and her SG NOT do that. Wow.

      • We are the people

        Why are you saying she “usually stands for the people”. Are we not the people? It is her duty to represent ALL citizens, not just those perfect few that walk on water and look at us as pond scum!

    • steve @mile r

      Mike I respectfully disagree with your conclusion she is the “people’s attorney” she is ALL peoples attorney. Hopefully our own governor and ag will be forwarded this and they take notice. On another note, at least the wackos from other states can’t, blame California’s liberal politics for being soft on Registrants.

  23. mike r @AJ or ??

    Does anyone know if the SORAs have been challenged using the 1974 Privacy Act? If so can you please cite if possible?

    • AJ

      @mike r:
      The Privacy Act applies only to the Federal Government as it conducts its operations (“The Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. § 552a, establishes a code of fair information practices that governs the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of information about individuals that is maintained in systems of records by federal agencies.” As such, one could only use it to challenge AWA’s and/or IML’s elements. Beyond that, the Act allows release of information if necessary for the government to conduct its duties. That would certainly be the argued case, were it challenged. But to answer your question, not to my knowledge.

  24. Crooked Ron Book Lies!

    Here is an idea, if we all donate some $ even as little as 5.00 into her re-election fund it would send a message to other elected that we are uniting and strong

    • Tim Moore

      I like that. I am always getting emails from candidates soliciting my support. They want me to be for them. Can’t say of those candidates have been “for” people like me. I will try to get on her mailing list, donate a little every month when and if she is campaigning. Hey 900,000 registrants at $5 each or $4.5 million. That should be our goal. Spread the word.

      • Aman

        @ Crooked Ron Book Lies, and Tim Moore… Great idea! spread the word…to all! AG Nessel is recently elected, so there is time to organize ourselves as a group to donate to her future campaign. I am going to research exactly how to donate to AG Nessel’s campaign once a month every month, and I will be donating $5.00 from myself, and $5.00 from my wife. Just imagine if we all support AG Dana Nessel in some small way, 5 bucks a month, that’s about $0.16 a day x 900,000 not including our family members who are just as affected and restricted by these unfair laws as we are. I see the link provided by “E” below I will check into that and get back. I agree that such action would indeed send a massage to other politicians who are always looking for a helping hand….with money in it to help further their ambitions. AG Nessel has started something here, not because she has a soft spot for sex offenders, but because she believes In her heart that this action is the right thing to do so people, citizens who have completed their sentenced punishment can rejoin society as whole and active members of it.

    • Tim Moore

      I see she can accept donations through Act Blue. I already have an account. Great.

    • E

      I did write and thank her. Not sure whether to give to her campaign, though?I suppose that’s the only place to give.

      On this site her video calls out “murderers and child molesters.” Well, whatever it takes to get elected, I guess??? Her briefs speak volumes… not that she doesn’t want people who commit sex offenses punished (she does), but that once they complete their punishment, they’ve completed their punishment. Very novel stance for a politician.

  25. AJ

    The only docs I’ve seen are the AG’s amici (URLs posted in the header for this section) and the ACLU’s amicus (not sure where I saw it…maybe on MI SC’s site). I have not seen any filings by the parties themselves beyond some historical ones at the CoA level and lower. Not being a Michigander nor a Michiganian, I haven’t dug into how, where or even if State court filings are posted online.

    If I find a usable link and source, I’ll pass it along.

  26. mike r

    Yeah, but remember court records are as easily accessible public records. Yeah right, I looked like hell for my state court records in my own case and have yet to locate any of them besides the appeal decision.

  27. Bobby

    Hello Everyone,

    Here is the Schedule for oral arguments concerning Michigan v David Snyder and Michigan v Paul Betts

    • Janice Bellucci

      Thank you, Bobby! Both cases are scheduled for oral argument the morning of March 6.

      • Shuan Hladki

        So does anyone believe that registration length terms could be shortened.

        Just for Example: perhaps someone who was required to register for 25 years after a risk assessment could be lowered to 10? Or that person removed from the registry after 10+ years if deemed to not be a threat?

        • RegistrantNotAnOffender

          I imagine it would depend on what your sentence is. In my tiered state your registration time is set by the offense not your risk level.

  28. The vampire

    The AG is 1000 % Right ! The sex offenders registers Can never STOP a sex crime. It is just for punishment If you really break it down for it to be a safe guard there is nothing! Think about it I can move to different places where Nobody know, S me and than come back home. No one knew that I was any kind of danger to them.So tell me How did the register list protect You!!

  29. pabst

    This is also interesting… A brief from ACLU filed a week before the AG’s brief.

    Looks like it’s weighing on legislation to correct this mess!

    • pabst

      If not then it’s back in U.S. district court, which Clealand has to rule SOR is “null and void” for every pre-2011 registrants for severability reasons! He has to comply with 6th court ruling which IS BINDING!

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