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National

MI: ACLU pushes for removal of sex offender registry

[abc57.com – 4/25/19]

Could the sex offender registry soon be a thing of the past? The American Civil Liberties Union wants to possibly get rid of it, saying the registry doesn’t work. Right now, there are two cases out of Michigan, including a class action lawsuit, claiming several parts of the registry are unconstitutional.

“In August 2016, the federal court of appeals held that Michigan’s registry is unconstitutional.” Attorney for the ACLU in Michigan, Miriam Aukerman, said.

Aukerman represents hundreds of convicted sex offenders fighting the public registry and some of the sex offender restrictions imposed by the state. That suit is in response to the state of Michigan not coming into compliance with the Court of Appeals decision.

“Basically what the court of appeals said is that the registry is so ineffective, so broken, that it violates the constitution. What we know, through research, is that registries don’t work. They don’t keep people safe.”

The Michigan registry was initially created in 1994 as a database for law enforcement. Since then, there have been major changes. In 1999, the registry was posted on the internet. In 2004, pictures were added. In 2006, living and working restrictions were imposed, keeping offenders at least 100 feet from schools. In 2011, a tier system was implemented, which determines how long an offender is on the list, retroactively extending registration for some offenders, for life, in some cases. In 2013, the state imposed an annual fee for people on the registry.

People who were convicted prior to registry amendments were impacted by each change. The court determined the state couldn’t retroactively punish offenders. And, found some blanket restrictions, like prohibiting people to live within 1000 feet of a school, are unconstitutional if there isn’t an individual threat assessment of the offender to show the restrictions are necessary.

“The problem is the legislature hasn’t come into compliance with that court decision.” Aukerman said.

Aukerman believes the best solution is an overhaul of the system and a dismantling of the public database.

Read more

 

Join the discussion

  1. jo

    The foundation crumbles….

    • bluewall

      I’m not a legal expert.. but how is this going to effect the other states? It is in Michigan, how would it effect New York and California and all the rest? Doesn’t this just effect the state? and what of those who are Federal? Couldn’t the Federal gov impose sanctions on those who are federal level register citizens?

      • Eric

        If this case wins, then it can be used in other cases in other states as support which is crucial in a court case. Citing other cases to back up your case is at the foundation of a case. So a win here could be huge. This is why judges want to be careful in overturning a case because of the ramifications and ripple effect it will have. A win here could be the crack in the damn we are looking for and the ACLU has the clout to make it happen. So glad they have finally gotten on board.

      • Q

        Bluewall,
        It hasn’t effected Michigan legislature, so the implications for other states are nill.
        Lip service does little to ” dismantle a database ” which is exactly what the surveillance saints are counting on. Many believe it is the unpopularity of sex offenders that keeps SORe alive, but I suggest there is “something else afoot” that has the STATE congresses all 51 in drag our feet mode. If and when states begin limiting gov USES OF DATABASES, the move also implicates federal police authority to ” monitor the general population electronically without warrant. “

        • David

          You lost me at “…STATE congresses all .. in drag…”
          Great visual! 🤣

    • e

      Don’t countyour chickens before they ……….

  2. AJ

    Wow. Glad to see ACLU-MI taking it to the press and casting light on what’s going on. It would seem they’ve tired of waiting for the legislature and, tacit support of the Governor through the explicit support of the AG, are going all-in. Great to see, and hopefully it cracks open things around the country! I look forward one day to there being a “Does v. MI” SCOTUS case law smacking down registries as punitive.

    I have to say that the quote from the Cass County prosecutor seems pretty stupid and lets out the lie:
    *****
    Fitz says he agrees that some people on the registry may not deserve to be there and thinks it’s reasonable for the courts to look at individual assessments. But, overall, he believes the database is key to public safety.

    “This is throwing the baby out with the bathwater 100 times over in my opinion.” Fitz said.

    And, without the registry, he believes prison sentences for sex offenders could be drastically extended.

    “The courts know the registry protects people in the community. If you take that away, judges may look at it with a very different light. So, be careful what you ask for.” He said.
    *****
    Oh, so you’re saying judges are using the registry as a back-handed punishment? And how exactly is a threat of longer prison terms with NO REGISTRY afterwards a bad thing? It would simply make RCs like every other person who has ever committed a crime….and then was allowed back into society without a Scarlet Letter. Oh and I absolutely dispute the “courts know the registry protects” anyone. The courts know the registry is de facto punishment and thus may go a little softer on the official punishment.

    • Bill

      POSSIBLY GET RID OF ?
      What the Hell does that mean ?
      Let’s make some deffinitive
      Moves for defense 💪👊 !!

      • Josh

        @Bill
        It doesn’t mean anything….Michigan will NEVER be without some form of $ex offender registry. I’ve had email conversations with Miriam Aukerman myself and she is very confident that we will see real change and as @Bobby reported last week there is a draft(s) of new legislation. However, this/these proposal(s) have to pass the house & senate and Ms. Aukerman has told me that realistically they probably won’t get everything they are asking for…We should all taper our expectations about the registry being abolished completely, I just don’t see that happening in my personal opinion…

        • e

          A very common sense approach. Those who think this is ever going away need to wake up. Not a pessimistic person, more like a realist. If you want out from under this crown of thorns, then you need to be crucified first. They aren’t done crucifying us by a long shot!

    • Henry

      No @AJ.

      He is saying that the judges “could” possibly start looking at sexual crimes as being judged as a capital crime worthy of that type of punishment.

      • Dustin

        @ Henry,

        Not sure about anywhere else, but here in Georgia most judges pretty much give out the max sentence anyway. Granted, a good bit of it is probated (along with conditions to ensure the probationer spends most of the period running in and out of jail), but it’s still a life sentence when registration is thrown in.

        Judges have to sentence within the statutory range. They can’t just throw someone in prison for life unless the statute allows it. Should the registry be abolished (and hopefully will be at some point), at most they’ll cut into or eliminate the probationary period. That’ll lead to an increase of those released on parole due to prison overcrowding, whether the public, courts, or legislators like it or not.

      • Jack

        Henry, that’s absurd. The death penalty for these kinds of things was ruled unconstitutional in 2008.

      • AJ

        @Henry:
        “He is saying that the judges “could” possibly start looking at sexual crimes as being judged as a capital crime worthy of that type of punishment.”
        —–
        Perhaps I missed something in the article, but where is any mention of capital crimes? Unless MI has the death penalty for sex offenses, a judge cannot give that sentence. But gee…MI was the first State to abolish the death penalty, in 1847 no less. So explain to me how any offense, sexual or otherwise, could be deemed a capital crime in a MI court. You do understand the term “capital crime” means punishable by death, right?

        And my question was a rhetorical one.

  3. G4Change

    Is is just me, or are these words “removal of sex offender registry” the most amazing thing ever in a headline??? One day! One day!

  4. mike r

    This is a joke, yeah it is great that the ACLU is finally starting to almost step up but to claim,
    “ACLU PUSHES FOR REMOVAL OF SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY” is just straight BS ABC pr stunt. No the ACLU and all the civil rights orgs should have been pushing the issue of at minimum individual risk assessments but really should have been advocating decades ago for complete and udder elimination of registering people like animals or property. BS man, F the ACLU and their PR BS. I say great that they may start to get involved but they have a mountain to climb before they would ever get to call themselves a civil rights org again in my books.

    • Chris f

      Yep, nice of the aclu to finally get its head out of its butt in one state.

      You will never see that from the Texas aclu. They refuse all requests from anyone with a sexually related offense with claims they will lose funding, but yet they refuse to even try to educate their supporters to even be able to do the right thing.

      I blame every sex assault on them that is done by someone not turned in to police earlier due to the victim being a friend or family member that didnt report it because of the unconstitional burdens the registry puts on the perpetrator and his friends/family.

  5. kat

    We all want change, and we all want it” yesterday”.
    But today I’m happy to hear the ACLU is stepping up. It may not be the big leap forward that we want, but it’s a step in the right direction.

    • Shawn

      @Kat

      Thank you, I totally agree. We sometimes get a bunch of negative comments on here even when we receive positive news. I think this is a very positive step in the right direction. Every bit of forward motion is important.

  6. Bobby

    Hello Everyone,

    Well in light of this new article I wrote to Ms. Aukerman yesterday, and asked her a few questions such what happens if the state of Michigan does or doesn’t reply in the next few days, to the lawsuit.
    and this was her reply back: They have a brief due in response to our motion.  We are hopeful that we can agree on an order applying Does I to everyone, and giving the legislature a set amount of time to fix the law.  I don’t think there is any chance the registry will just go away.

    This was my response back to her: I know the registry won’t go away, because Michigan extorts to much money from people who are on the registry
      Just as long as people like me and many others who are pre-sorna are finally removed from the registry is all that really matters, do you think this will finally come to an end by the end of the year or hopefully sooner.

    and her last response back to me was, I hope it will be by the end of the year.

    Just thought you all would like to know what she told me today.

  7. American Detained in America

    Now, if only they did that in other states as well, then I could actually get behind them!

  8. Frederick

    Why can’t we just petition to put it on a ballot to see what the people of Michigan want, especially when the real studies are put out there.

    • Josh

      @frederick
      We’re not going to put it on a ballot because we already have court decisions in hand….we WON. The bull$h!t part is the way the legislature has willfully ignored the decisions for TWO years….As to putting something on the ballots, WHY? We would lose with 70% going against us and that’s being conservative…public perception is NOT on our side no matter what studies are presented to the public….

      • Will Allen

        Agree completely. I think a large majority of people in the U.S. are not good people and thus they don’t care that Registries are counterproductive and not useful. There is no need to even tell those people any facts.

        Most people see the key “benefit” of the Registries being that they cause problems for the families that are listed on them. That is the “benefit” that they want most. They see the Registries as useless punishment and harassment and they like it.

  9. Jun

    This is great news, of course. And about time to happen like this across the country. It can’t sustain itself with a foundation built on “sinking sand” (lies, falsities). We’re in a very different climate than that from the 90s. The registry is so yesterday. It is time for this outdated, foundation-less hoax to disappear.

    • Will Allen

      I think the only way that the Registries are ever going to be eliminated is if we/everyone make a large majority of the people in America understand that only immoral, un-American dipsh*ts support Registries. The lemmings have to believe that it is not PC and cool to support Registries. Only self-serving rubes support Registries. Fortunately, that is an accurate representation so it only needs to be exposed.

  10. David

    I just did the math. There are 44,000 people on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry. If everyone pays the annual $50 required registry fee, that comes to 2.2 million dollars. Unbelievable!!!!!! This ridiculous registration needs to go.

    • Fuzzy

      I’m hoping with the changes happening here in MI, that the $50 annual fee goes away because that’s part of (or should be) the ex post facto portions of what was struck down. Not that $50 a year breaks the bank, but it’s the principle of it. There was no annual fee when I originally had to register, just a fee for the very first time. Then in 2013 or something they started making all of us pay for the privilege of being on their silly list. If they want the list, they can pay for it…

    • Will Allen

      A normal government needs money to function and some amount of services for the common good are great. Registries are not part of that. They are idiotic waste. But criminal big government will steal as much money as they can, from as many sources/ways as they can. It doesn’t matter how much money they collect, they will try more in as many ways as possible. This is just another money grab.

      Think of how big they can grow if they create the rest of their Registries!! I truly can’t believe they haven’t been trying harder. I’m thinking it’s because that is one scam that they don’t yet think they can get away with. Unlike the $EX Offender Registries. All idiots want that.

    • Josh

      @David
      Here’s the ironic part of that amount of money you mentioned..the state of Michigan is still taking a loss on maintaining the SOR every year. Between, the federal funding for being sorna compliant and our annual “membership” fee the state LOSES money…yet they still stubbornly persist in fiscal irresponsibility year after year in the name of public “safety.”

      • AJ

        @Josh:
        Where and how did you compile the money data for MI? I’d like to do similarly for my State. I recall someone once posting a link to the Byrne grant monies; it’d be nice to have that again. I may have to FOIA my State, if nothing else.

        • Josh

          @AJ
          My source for that was Ms. Aukerman from the Aclu. According to her she has used it heavily in her arguments while negotiating with legislators. She remains as flabbergasted as many of us are that the state clings so stubbornly to something “broken” & “ineffective” that LOSES the state money every year.
          I haven’t seen how much Byrne grant money that Michigan gets in a couple of years but apparently not enough goes to maintain the SOR. As to the 44K paying $50 annually resulting in 2.2 million, I believe that number is significantly lower when you take into effect indigent & homeless registrants or people who claim poverty as reasons not to pay. I could be wrong but I believe Michigan doesn’t jail registrants if they can claim/prove inability to pay…sorry I don’t have concrete numbers for you AJ. I was simply repeating what I was told by Ms. Aukerman. My point again, is that if my state can’t even make $$$$ on this “scheme” then they must be doing it to shame, embarrass, and PUNISH….

        • Josh

          @AJ
          Your post got me curious after I responded earlier and I did some checking. I was able to find the figure of $67 million allocated to Michigan annually. If somebody fact checks me and finds something different then I’ll stand corrected as usual. I found that the federal government gives out 2 billion in Byrne grants every year. I also learned that the state keeps 60% of that allocation and is required to pass on the other 40% to all the local municipalities in the state.

        • AJ

          @Josh:
          Thanks. I’ll have to poke around a bit and see what I can find.

      • Will Allen

        I mean, if Registries actually did anything useful, I don’t think it would be an issue if they “lost” money. What does that mean anyway? If a Registry costs $5 million, that comes from somewhere. It does not matter if only $200k is collected by “fees” and $1 million is received from feds or whatever. The Registry costs $5 million and that money can be retrieved from anywhere. If Registries were useful, people could consider if they are worth what they cost.

        I think fiscal irresponsibility only comes into play if they spend $5 million on something that should have cost $3 million. Or if they are spending money on things that are useless, like the Registries. The Registries are fiscally irresponsible not because they “lose” money but because they aren’t needed.

  11. AJ

    As has been said by people much wiser than I: “The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, But It Bends Toward Justice.” Most attribute it to MLK, but there are numerous cases of it being said many times and years earlier than his utterance (https://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/11/15/arc-of-universe/). Though it may seem as though we’re not going anywhere, I feel that arc bending our way.

  12. Bobby

    @Anyone who is interested, I just heard back from Tim from Michigan’s ACLU just minutes ago, even though emailed him a week ago, as you know I already posted Ms Aukerman’s response to my questions.

    He is Tim’s response to those same questions,
    Bobby I understand that you are trying to keep up with the latest news.  However with over 40,000 people on the SOR in Michigan and many of them contacting us it is hard to keep each one up-to-date on what we are doing.  Yes we are still working on it. No I do know when this will be finalized. I too hope it will be soon. As for a week to respond yes the court has told the State the court wants some questions answered and the State says they will have those answers this coming Friday.  It does not imply that they will have a final position for the court it just is some issues the court asked to have answers on.  Please follow your local news for updates.  You will also be notified by the MSP in writing when changes are made that will affect your SOR requirements.

    Respectfully Tim P ACLU of Michigan SOR Specialist 

    So between Ms Aukerman’s answers and Tim’s answer’s what do you all think about all this ? Thanks in advance for anyone’s input.

    • AJ

      @Bobby:
      I think it means they’re getting overwhelmed with and tired of emails from hundreds or thousands of people asking this, that and the other. The last lines say it all to me: watch the news for updates, and wait for MSP to give you a written notification.

      • Will Allen

        Yeah, I think people at the ACLU are overworked and have too many goals just like just about everyone else. It would probably help the ACLU, and thus all of America, if in general we all bothered them as little as possible (generally). I don’t know about them, but I wouldn’t have time to answer 50 extra e-mails, phone calls, or whatever, in a day. And working for a non-profit like the ACLU, I simply would not do it (I would if I were a paid employee and told to do so). The ACLU owes few people much of anything. Perhaps only people who support them, but whatever.

        Anyway, I certainly would not trust the “local news” (or any other) to keep me up to date on the intricate details of court proceedings. If I were the ACLU, I think I’d just post updates on the website and refer every single person to those. I’d ask people to read all that and only contact the ACLU if they had some key information or whatever. I’d skip responding to individual e-mails, mostly.

  13. Bobby

    Hello everyone,

    Question does anyone know if the State of Michigan filed that brief, that was suppose to be due today? and if so were can I fined it to see what they have to say, or if they are still try to stall the whole situation.

    Thanks

  14. Richard

    Lets keep our hope up for a ruling on An opinion in Gundy v. U.S. is expected by June 2019. is what I read. This could send a shock wave across the country, We can only pray for a Constitutional outcome !

  15. Bobby " ATTENTION"

    Hello everyone,

    Well I got an email from Tim P. today from the Michigan ACLU, and it sounds like this might be good news, but who knows, I hope this is good news, and this will finally be over soon.

    So anyways here is what he emailed me not to long ago,

    The State was given an extension because it looks like we are going to enter into a judgment from the court that will give the State of Michigan Legislator’s 90 days to change the SOR so that all of the rulings in Doe 1 will be applied to everyone in Doe 2. 

    Respectfully Tim P ACLU of Michigan SOR Specialist   

    Let me know what you all think.

    • bill

      Thanks Bobby for the update, it sounds good,hope we can get on with lift soon!

    • AJ

      @Bobby:
      I think it sounds promising, though I’m wondering who the court will lock up for contempt if it’s not followed. The way our system runs, the legislature can pretty easily thumb its nose at the other two branches and have nothing come of it. Seemingly it’s only when the executive and judicial branches gang up on the legislative one that the legislature backs down…grudgingly and slowly.

      I believe you’ll need to pin your hopes on the executive branch (Gov., AG) following the court’s order, legislature be damned. That’s the legislative body’s weakness: like the judiciary, it has no actual ability to force compliance. Only the executive has that power. Given the AG’s recent position in the two cases that had the sneak-peek hearing at MI SC, I would say the Gov. and AG are on your side. If so, they will probably sit tight a week or two to see if the legislature honors the court order; if not, they will probably independently act and announce adherence to the order.

      Short answer: things seem to be looking up there. Finally.

      • Josh

        @Bobby

        I tend to agree with @AJ’s take on the situation….It’s the same one my lawyer has been discussing with me…the other aspect that bothers me is that yet another extension was filed. It seems like we have endured seemingly countless extensions…the state will use every last day of the 90 given them to comply if at all. If it is indeed 90 days then this puts us towards the end of summer and that would seriously blow…there are several of us on here who have warned against having faith in the legislature. We’ll get NO help from them. A executive order from Whitmer/Nessel is probably our best bet as @AJ stated…..I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade but I’m still not expecting a speedy resolution. It’s amazing that they can pass bad legislation in 3 months and take 13 years to correct the same bad legislation…smh

        • Will Allen

          Well, at least it’s not a lifetime. Soon enough, people will be able to drop off of the Registries and forget they ever existed. They’ll be able to pick up their own pitchforks and torches and go to work.

        • Fuzzy

          @Josh

          I never believed in the legislature. They sit on their hands for as long as they want to, and are now only doing something because they’re being forced to. Look at the mess we have here with no-fault auto insurance. It’s the same deal. I’m glad they’re applying the Does I ruling to everyone in Does II, but that’s just a baby step. Hopefully there are more changes coming as well. I would like the $50 annual fee removed, a way off the registry after X amount of years offense free, and only having to provide my address and not every other little detail of my life when doing my bi annual verification. I actually prefer Nessel’s solution to just getting rid of it completely, which says a lot coming from the AG. Maybe that will come one day. On one hand I’m happy progress is being made, but am I being greedy for wanting more? I just worry that what is being done isn’t going to be enough. While I want change, I hesitate to settle for the bone we’re going to be thrown by the legislature instead of real change.

    • Mel Jo

      How is it Michigan legislature has defied the Sixth Circuit Court’s ruling for two years? What has been required of the pre-SORA registrants during this time? This anarchy is absurd!

  16. AJ

    Following on the heels of @Bobby’s post, something has once again come to mind regarding Snyder and Muniz. Both found the laws as exist are punitive and violate ex post facto for those sentenced prior to them. Okay, cool.

    So what does that mean for someone migrating to MI or PA, regardless of when sentenced? If it’s punitive, how can MI or PA apply it to someone from another jurisdiction without it being a Double Jeopardy or Due Process violation (or both)? No State may impose punishment for the same crime another State already resolved (Double Jeopardy), nor can the State impose punishment without a trial (Due Process). It seems to me that anyone migrating to these States would be entitled to the same benefits as those covered by the EPF outcome. So, once the laws are “fixed,” don’t MI and PA become “safe havens” of a sort? And once TN or another 6th CCoA State comes in line, don’t they too become safe havens?

    What am I missing here? Though I don’t want to live in a colder climate, there is a certain appeal to being less burdened. And moving would certainly be cheaper and faster than a court challenge.

    • Mel

      Moving from state to state has created a tangled web for us! Not on the registry in the original state where the supposed crime took place, a 2nd state put him on it (at the lowest level) for an unrelated felony for 10 years. Now he’s off that, but TN (where we moved) has placed him on it for life and lists him as the highest level offender! No matter that the 2nd state sent us a letter releasing him from their registry. The TBI told him, “No, you won’t be removed and don’t ever ask us again.” Keep your eyes on the Supreme Court’s decision in Gundy vs United States due out sometime by the end of the current term. I know we’re not the only ones suffering.

      • AJ

        @Mel:
        “No matter that the 2nd state sent us a letter releasing him from their registry.”
        —–
        A first-hand experience with the “non-punitive regulatory scheme” SCOTUS gave us in Smith. Since it’s regulatory, it matters not how, how long, or even if another State said you’re no longer subject to its regulation(s), another State can (re)regulate as it sees fit.
        =====
        “Keep your eyes on the Supreme Court’s decision in Gundy vs United States due out sometime by the end of the current term.”
        —–
        Gundy will do nothing for us at the State level. It will only resolve a Federal Constitutional issue. Even then, Congress (at least in theory, who knows in current practice) merely needs to clarify itself through legislation or codify the AG’s interpretations, and all will be solid.

    • CR

      @AJ, your reasoning seems sound to me regarding any aspect of SORA that is deemed punitive. For the current version of SORA in MI, that may be the entire thing. But Snyder did not find that registration was punitive. In MI, it was the particular burdens and restrictions imposed by SORA that were found to be punitive. The CCOA in Snyder observed, in comparing MI SORA to Alaska’s first generation registry law, that the latter was upheld by SCOTUS. And retroactive application of a non-punitive civil regulatory law is also deemed constitutional by SCOTUS (although I think they are wrong there).

      In short, I don’t think there is any doubt that a new MI SORA modeled after Alaska’s first generation registry law and applied retroactively would pass constitutional muster. At least, so long as the SCOTUS decision in Smith v Doe remains good law. So, no safe haven in MI or elsewhere in the 6th Circuit, unless MI or another state simply does away with their registry laws. That’s not going to happen.

      • AJ

        @CR:
        Thanks for the reply and feedback. I didn’t mean to give the impression I thought anywhere would be “SORA free.” By safe haven I meant a place with fewer restrictions than someone may have elsewhere. Smith remains dispositive until SCOTUS says otherwise, and no State is going to be the NIMBY-dumping-ground for RCs (i.e. none will drop MLs until they must). My thought was that perhaps people could at least lose some of the burdens currently endured in their States of residence.

        • CR

          @AJ, makes sense. I think you are certainly right about the potential for MI or PA to become a good migration target for some registrants. I hope so. But I’m also sure the MI legislature will resist positive change and make the new law as restrictive as they think they can get away with.

  17. HC

    Would being removed from registry enable us to move to other countries without being screened?
    Would it permit us to move into any housing after a screening or background check?
    Would I be able to secure employment?

    In other words, I know that our faces will no longer be posted, but how is the removal going to effect the present condition? For example, many countries won’t permit us to travel freely into south America. They either remove us and detain us and finally return us to USA.

    If I should decide to move into a %%+ community park or buy a home in said location, they will still be able to look us up and deny us to live or buy a home cause of criminal history….

    So, I am just trying to understand what is the gain of removal….

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