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PA: High Court will again review sex offender registration

Two years ago, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court shook up long-settled orthodoxy by ruling that the state’s sex offender registration law, otherwise known as SORNA (Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act) was punishment. The case, Commonwealth v. Muniz, 164 A.3d 1189 (Pa. 2018), presented the Court with two questions: whether people who committed their crimes before the adoption of the law could continue to be registered without running afoul of the state Constitution’s Ex Post Facto Clause, a fairness doctrine that prevents governments from retroactively applying greater punishments to conduct than could have been applied at the time of the crime; and, second, whether the law more broadly violates due process by unfairly labeling a person as sexually dangerous without first proving that fact and without giving the person an opportunity to challenge that message. While the Court answered the first question with a resounding yes, it punted on the second. Full Article

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  1. JACK

    All right everybody, let’s pray.

  2. Eric

    Bravo to Muniz for putting this brilliant petition together. It is crystal clear.

  3. Timothy

    Until the people address the fact that the indenture of human to machine database maintenance has long been in common practice, humanity will continue to suffer.

  4. E

    Evidently a moron, I cannot find the judgment being appealed. Wanted to read it. Anybody else find it?

    • AJ

      You’re not alone. After doing a little digging, it appears the Torsilieri case isn’t available to us (every single page of the PASC’s docket sheet has a header reading, “Sealed Documents”). I also suspect some people perhaps read the decided Muniz case and mistook it for Torsilieri. The only real info I could dredge up was some unhelpful info from the Common Pleas case and the current PASC docket.

      To see the docket info, go to and enter “37 MAP 2018” for the Docket No. If you want to look at the Common Pleas stuff, go to and enter “cp 15 cr 0001570 2016” in the appropriate spaces. The only interesting tidbit I got from the Common Pleas docs was that Torsilieri’s attorneys successfully got the court to order the Commonwealth to refrain from referring to his high school as a “preparatory school.” Sounds to me like they were trying to paint him as an entitled rich kid….which he may be, given his having hired 3 of the world’s experts on RC stuff.

      On a side note, Cosby’s attorneys cited Torsilieri in one of their documents ( Perhaps PA RCs will be able to ride his coattails.

      • E @ AJ

        Thanks. How can I get my 20+ year old case that well hidden??!! $$$

      • T

        Part 6 IS the “substantive” due NOT available to pleas “weighed” in Connecticut DPS due process. That court, tho not prompted by the original complainant, fairly mentioned the substantive due process question WAS NOT RULED OUT. Civil commitment requires judicial process PRIMARILY on incarceration like real circumstances. Posting or notification laws presumably then did not outline ” physical presence mandate” which renders “custody” and would’ve ENDED THE INQUIRY!

        The promiscuous USES of the databases and infrastructure much to powerful to not capitalize politically on. Never more a threat known to the history of known republic’s the machines ability to centralize and indeed galvanize authority onto the few elite powers apart from the ragged many. We need not pretend the be predated on foolish presumption of facts. The registration databases are plain property, like a prison or plantation, the commodity ” personal data” and all the ” free” access in the world. Who makes ends on that? Man or machine? Got identity protection? Me neither in 93, nor confrontation, nor attorney, and I’d not waived. He didn’t wanna ask me per his onus, but h’ll be answering soon enough.

  5. Chris f

    This should succeed.

    Even if it doesnt get to SCOTUS, it will be the blueprint for filings in other states. SCOTUS may be quicker to take a case like this on if the registry crumbles in one state and that state risks becoming a safe harbor for other state’s sex offenders.

  6. AJ

    This line made me guffaw: “Despite a strong preference for deference to legislative fact-finding, no court and no standard of review has ever required the abdication of the courts’ independent responsibility to ensure that laws depriving fundamental rights do not overstep constitutional bounds.”
    They may not be required to abdicate their responsibility, but they sure seem to like doing so.

    I have yet to read the docs, but I like the comments from the usual suspects on here. Heartening without even cracking a page.

    • TS

      Deference to legislative fact-finding? Do they carry more weight than fact-finding of an academic, a non-legislative researcher, a student, or other? If one can out-find a legislative fact finder, then put it out there for the court to see. They’ll be on their heels rather quickly. Just hope they don’t dismiss it.

      • AO @ TS

        I think they’re basically saying is that they trust the legislatures to actually do research. And if they say something is so, it’s because they’re saying so based on facts in their research. This is further compounded by the fact that the registry falls under the least restrictive review processes of “if it sounds good, it must be good”.

      • AJ

        The courts have long said, both by word and deed, that the legislature has better resources than the judiciary when it comes to fact-finding. Add in that the judiciary feels second-guessing the legislatures’ fact-finding is an overstep on separation of powers, and you end up with courts that shrug their shoulders and take legislatures’ words as gospel. This makes sense on paper, but when the legislature is full of animus and its fact-finding is either false or nonexistent, it all comes crumbling down….yet the judiciary is sitting there pretending it’s all good. Or they at least pat themselves on the back that *they* aren’t be similarly eroded…which is itself an erosion.

      • TS

        @AO & AJ

        Thanks for clarifying that. It is a sad erosion of what thinking and research has become today even though the separation of powers must remain in place for the better.

  7. mike r

    “If the Court strikes down SORNA under a due process theory, the Legislature will be tasked with reexamining the law’s fundamental premise – that all ex-offenders are and will permanently remain “high risks” to the community. That reexamination is precisely what appellee seeks. A decision on the case is expected sometime in early 2020.”

    OMG, they would not make the legislators have to do their jobs by drafting rational laws or conform to that pesky constitution would they?

    Have not read the brief yet but it sounds very encouraging that the guy hired all these experts and shit. Would have been nice if I had that money. I still think they will have to recognize my judicial notice though. At least at the appellant level once it gets there.

  8. mike r

    Man those are the old rulings on Muniz, where is the Commonwealth v. Torsilieri case briefs challenging the law prospectively? The case that the whole article and post is referring to.

  9. Timothy in WI

    I place the abdication squarely in the lap of the Rehnquist Court panel.

    Our law reads “A person who was in prison for…A crime.”

    This kind of law wording is ex post de facto.

    The use of that language by ALL 51 congresses displays beyond paradventure the true state of the constitution ratified and supported by the bill of rights.

  10. David

    I’m confused by this beginning of the article: “The case, Commonwealth v. Muniz, 164 A.3d 1189 (Pa. 2018), presented the Court with two questions: whether people who committed their crimes before the adoption of the law could continue to be registered without running afoul of the state Constitution’s Ex Post Facto Clause, a fairness doctrine that prevents governments from applying greater punishments to conduct than could have been applied at the time of the crime……
    While the Court answered the first question with a resounding yes….”

    🤔 So the court ruled, Yes, those with pre-SORNA convictions could indeed continue to be required to register??
    (It had been my understanding that the court said, No, they cannot be required to register. ) 🤔
    🤨 *confused*

    • AJ

      I suspect they got themselves confused and shared the wealth to readers.

    • Chuck

      The Muniz Court ruled that if you were convicted before 12/20/12 you CANNOT be forced onto SORNA. So, after this ruling, there was no Megan’s Law for those convicted before 12/20/2012. In response, Pa passed ACT 10 and ACT29 of 2018. The Commonwealth is saying, “All done, we ‘fixed” the issue so now we can hold people retroactively on ACT 10 and ACT 29 aka those convicted BEFORE 12/20/2012.

      This is what we are fighting about right now in the 2 cases before the PA Supreme Court.

      • Josh


        This is my biggest fear as it relates to what’s going on in Michigan and the Does cases. We’ll get momentarily removed from the registry and then legislated right back onto it….

  11. BW

    George Torsilieri was removed from the PA Megan Law website ahead of any decision in his PA Supreme Court case 37 Map 2018.

  12. Jeff

    The bottom line is the Constitution says you cannot resentence a person who has already been tried, those of us who were sentenced before Megan’s law or Sorna, anything beyond our sentences is violation of due process and unconstitutional.
    Why are our lawmakers permitted to violate the Constitution and get away with it. And it really starts with the United States Attorney General who made it retroactive, so shouldn’t they be forced to undo the retroactive?

  13. Jim

    Sorna 2 just found unconstitutional by Pa. Superior court. Registrant ordered
    from list…

    • CR

      Not all of SORNA II. Just the internet notification provisions 42 Pa.C.S. § 9799.63. For retroactive application, I think.

      Although, that in itself is big news.

  14. SanAntonio Hawkins

    I was convicted of in decent assault Jan 23 2017 by a mental health staff I was off my meds she say I touch her but is there good layer in Erie PA help me get off this regerster thing

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