CA: Los Angeles Superior Court Allows In-Person Registration to Continue


A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled today that the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department may continue to require in-person registration during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The ruling was made during a telephonic hearing in response to ACOL’s request for a Temporary Restraining Order.

Although the judge noted that infection to COVID-19 is a “significant concern”, she interpreted state law requirements to obtain fingerprints and photos as to require that all registrants, including those at high risk due to age and/or medical condition, must register in person.  She did not address the fact that the Los Angeles Police Department is currently registering individuals by phone only.

“The court’s ruling today shows a complete disregard for the lives of registrants and their families,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci.

During oral argument, ACSOL stated that the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) is not equipped to protect registrants from a potentially fatal exposure to COVID-19.  Therefore, denial of the TRO would be unconscionable and barbaric.

The sheriff’s department attorney stated during oral argument that LASC is “taking measures” to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in its stations. However, the attorney failed to provide any evidence related to those measures.

“The central argument made by the attorney representing the Department of Justice is that it would be difficult for the government to change current registration procedures,” stated Bellucci.  According to that attorney, there are more than 500 law enforcement agencies that register individuals on a period basis.

Despite today’s ruling, a lawsuit filed by ACSOL that challenges in-person registration by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department continues.  The lawsuit was filed on March 26 and is one of a total of five lawsuits filed in state court regarding the same issue.  The lawsuits were filed against the City of Murrieta on March 23, against the City of San Diego on March 24, against the City of Sacramento on March 25, against the County of Los Angeles on March 26 and against the County of San Diego on March 27.

In addition, ACSOL filed a lawsuit in the California Supreme Court on April 1 against the Attorney General challenging the state form created by the AG which falsely states that in-person registration is required.  The AG’s form is currently being used by all law enforcement agencies during the registration process.

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Judge Mary Strobel makes this ruling via teleconference so she can be safe in her home. This shows the total contempt and disregard she has for not only the people ont he registry, but all the law enforcement and their staff that must have a one on one in crowded room to register all the registrants. How disgusting.

We win some, we lose some. This was to be expected-I’m not surprised. Judges in California aren’t taking a chance on being perceived as soft on sex offender laws. They saw the writing on the wall when the Brock Turner judge was ran out of office by public outcry. Maybe judges won’t be as scared when the Turner controversy dies down in a few years, let’s just hope it happens before the next pandemic.

Observing this judge I’m reminded of:
The Peter principle is a concept in management developed by Laurence J. Peter, which observes that people in a hierarchy tend to rise to their “level of incompetence”:

Such a bummer. Perhaps not a surprise, though given the politics of the courts, and maybe given the nature of the legal issue. On a pure issue of statutory interpretation, agencies charged with implementing a statute are entitled to reasonably interpret them. (That might change in the next year or two in U.S. Supreme Court, because it is actually very conservative justices such as Gorsuch and Kavanaugh who have long been against giving un-elected agencies too much power to “interpret” the law.) But for now, addressing the matter strictly from the standpoint of the words and the intent of the statute (PC 290 et seq.), the requirement of photographs and fingerprints does indeed seem to indicate that the intent of the statute was to require in-person registration. Although not necessarily: If the purpose of those is proof of identity, there are alternate (stay at home) means of proving the registrant is truly who he/she says he or she is.
To actually win this case, however, we probably need arguments beyond the narrow scope of statutory construction, since the agency will always have the upper hand over us there. The Eighth Amendment “Cruel and Unusual Punishment” seems to me to be a total non-starter: all lower courts and state courts are required to following the law of the land per SCOTUS that registration is not “punishment” (though we all know it is). And even if we got to SCOTUS on this in about, uh, eight or nine years or so that it would take us to get the case that far, no chance in hell that the present 5 reactionary hacks on the conservative side would reverse the previous ruling that registration is “not” punishment.
Therefore, maybe some other constitutional argument can be made. In California, equal protection is an obvious one, since the LAPD does not require in-person registration, which means registrants elsewhere throughout California, who are similarly situated, are being treated disparately. But as Janice mentioned the phone meeting today, it might be costly as a tactical matter to press that argument because the result might only be for the LAPD to also quit its allowance of phone registration, to make everything “equal”. (Although we might lose that minor battle yet win the overall war, by having a good equal protection argument that the LAPD has already given us.) Or perhaps there is a due process argument. “Liberty” (“no person may be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law) has been very broadly defined for over 100 years under the due process clause (14th Amendment), so a due process argument might be fruitful to consider and research. Covid-19 risks life to in-person registrants, without due process of law.
No matter how we slice it, things are stacked against us, given the nature of this legal issue, the politics of the courts, and the present state of the law. But we all know and appreciate you’re fighting for us, Janice and Chance

Interesting. Just give up? OC posted a notice on their door/directing you to call a young girl on the phone who registered you on phone/yet stated we weren’t really registering and would need to come back? When? How? LB, registers you via phone and you come pick up a receipt after just giving a thumbprint? The virus can live for hours. Medical professionals are still learning about the virus daily and not sure (don’t argue/I won’t share what my spouse does) how it’s being spread. Multiple people are being put on ventilators and dying, yet they have no clue how they where exposed? Life will never be the same. Police will never operate the same/the courts/it’s going to just take a few lawsuits. Are you guys just going to give up?

I print every year , pitcher every year , same lame paper work every year even know I am at the same whole in the wall , , The one thing I am greatful for is that the Sheriff office treat us like humans being tagged like cattle , rather than just being treated like a cow like at the PD , nice try acsol cant believe that’s where that ends , it don’t surprise me that was LA since that’s where the registration started at in CA , sheriff/ PTA , LA will be the last place fighting to keep this unconstitutional registration in the year 2040

The whole in-person registration scheme is a farce, and we all know it.

Here in Wisconsin we register in person the first time, and then only have to go in person every few years to update our photos. I’m able to update everything else via email, phone, or fax from the comfort of my home. My annual re-do is done by mail. I think that this is the situation for except those that were captured under the Chapter 980 program – our version of civil commitment. I think that the only time I’d have to go in person other than for a new photo is if I move to a new jurisdiction.

Our registration is probably more accurate and up-to-date than many others, and last I looked our compliance rate was quite high.

There is no justifiable reason for frequent in-person registration, and it’s clear that it’s not necessary for accuracy. As evidences by voting by mail, passports by mail, and everything else done in this country by mail there is no reason for this. Showing up at a police station doesn’t prove you live or work where you say, and provides no more information than a phone call or email could.

To me, it’s time to end the in-person registration across the board. It would be a great first step.

Go in there acting like you have a cough. Maybe by accident start coughing when you get the finger print business. Doubt they will keep you too long.

I just did my annual 290 registration. I was fortunate enough to have our city (county?) doing it by phone. Took all of about 60 seconds as the person simply verified my name and that none of the information on file has changed. He said he’d then mail out copies of the receipt and all the forms that I’d usually initial, with a note that these weren’t signed due to COVID-19

Why isn’t this just a regular thing? Saves us time and a lot of anxiety. And seems easier for the person on the other end as well. If the actual law doesn’t require in-person registration, then why does pretty much every jurisdiction force it? Seems like this isn’t any different than some places trying to force residential restrictions beyond the state law. Is this one of those things that needs to be sued about like living restrictions but hasn’t been penciled in yet for a law suite as it’s not nearly as devastating as the residential ones (totally get that)? Or is there something deeper?

How many times do we have to hear stuff like this?,

“Although the judge noted that infection to COVID-19 is a “significant concern”

We heard this before where the courts ignore constitutional rights,

In Tandeske, the Court recognized petitioner did “indeed” have “important” “liberty interest” but the Court completely ignored those “liberty interest” and cited Smith, at 123, and Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 727, 117 S. Ct. 2258, 138 L.Ed.2d 772 (1997) as authorities.
“Thus, although the Does possess liberty interests that are indeed important, Smith precludes our granting them relief.”-

Thanks Janice! I took your advice and I’m processing what you suggested in LA. As you mentioned, the address laws are rather open to interpretation. I’ve filed with someone who does this (this is all they do) and it’s very apparent LA is much more receptive to those who seek to increase their opportunities for rehabilitation. Best wishes

I’m sure those “measures” will consist of thin sheet of plexiglass hung from the ceiling.

Why don’t you guys donate? Or provide suggestions on how this issue can be addressed? It’s wonderful to have a place to rant, but what do you suggest?

This is a pandemic! This story will be shared in history books. Life will never be the same. Social distancing/shields/face masks will be around for some time. Multiple healthcare professionals have noted that many of those affected have underlying health issues (BP/overweight/diabetics, asthma, lung disease/etc). Yet, many police agencies are demanding that those required to register must come in and register with their agencies and processed by those with no idea on how to protect those with these high risk health issues. Furthermore, what new measures will be put in place to protect us? Janice, you need a healthcare professional to instill the fear of God into the Judge and the implications on how their lack of insight can affect the health of others! Police officers are clueless! It would just take one lawsuit to change this! Or, a class action lawsuit!

Yeah Michael, it is my opinion that Tandeske is erroneous case doctrine as they present no evidence or explanation as to what liberty interest were at stake and as to what public safety elements were at play. This statement “public safety” is not a legitimate authority to simply dismiss these “liberty interest” on their face like they did. If this was the case than any law can be rationalized and upheld if it has any perceived “public interest or safety” proclamations attached to it by these corrupt politicians. Even though rational basis review is a high bar to hurdle, it does not leave the legislative branch unquestionable authority to harass or disenfranchise individuals or groups and certainly not to bypass due process just on their word.

This is going to get interesting now for sure.This is going to end up drawing a line in the sand as to what point does the danger imposed by at least the in-person reporting requirement become state officials acting in reckless disregard for our safety and not just a consequence of conviction so often proclaimed.
I know some people take offense to this layman law that I throw out there, but the following could be helpful for sure, it is part of my case already.

See Wood v. Ostrander, 879 F.2d 583, 588-90 (9th Cir.1989) (plaintiff could sue government when state officer affirmatively placed her in dangerous situation), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 938, 111 S.Ct. 341, 112 L.Ed.2d 305 (1990); L.W. v. Grubbs, 974 F.2d 119, 121 (9th Cir.1992) (generally citizens may not sue state employees who fail to protect them from harm committed by private parties unless there is a special relationship between the plaintiff or the state places the plaintiff in danger), cert. denied, 508 U.S. 951, 113 S.Ct. 2442, 124 L.Ed.2d 660 (1993); “a government must provide protection if the government is responsible for creating the danger.” DeShaney, 489 U.S. at 200; “If the state puts a man in a position of danger from private persons and then fails to protect him . . . it is as much an active tortfeasor as if it had thrown him into a snake pit.” Bowers v. DeVito 686 F.2d 616 (7th Cir. 1982); similar to the Ninth Circuit, the Sixth, Seventh, and Eleventh Circuits adopted the “deliberate indifference” or “reckless disregard” standards. See Foy v. City of Berea, 58 F.3d 227 (6th Cir. 1995); Magdziak v. Byrd, 96 F.3d 1045 (7th Cir. 1996); McKinney v. Pate, 20 F.3d 1550 (11th Cir. 1994).
The Ninth Circuit found that the government could be held liable if it could be shown that its officers’ conduct was deliberately indifferent, that it was reckless. Lewis v. Sacramento County, 98 F.3d 434, 441 (9th Cir. 1996). The Supreme Court reversed, holding that in an emergency situation, like a high-speed chase, the government can be held liable only if its officers’ behavior “shocks the conscience.” (emphasis added).
In the non-emergency context, the lower courts have consistently held that deliberate indifference or recklessness is sufficient to show liability if there is a state-created danger.
Similar to the Ninth Circuit, the Sixth, Seventh, and Eleventh Circuits adopted the “deliberate indifference” or “reckless disregard” standards. Foy v. City of Berea, 58 F.3d 227 (6th Cir. 1995); Magdziak v. Byrd, 96 F.3d 1045 (7th Cir. 1996); McKinney v. Pate, 20 F.3d 1550 (11th Cir. 1994).

Great job Janice! Yes, Federal won’t be so bias. Interesting story (any thoughts): I initially registered via telephone in OC. A young girl (sounds like an administrative assistant) took my info and informed me we would be required to come back in May? I also informed her I had a new secondary address? She declined to take it/she informed me to update it when I came in again? I then called LB to schedule an appt and I was informed I hadn’t updated my registration in OC and I might have a warrant? I then called OC back and (crazy) she informed me that I had attempted to register, but really hadn’t? In essence (Janice), OC is refusing to fully register me via the telephone and breaking the law? I had OC call LB! (What if I didn’t own a phone)? I registered via the phone in LB and showed up to initial their form and I gave 2 thumbprints! I was in (mask) and out in 5-10 mins. They didn’t even photograph me/I registered there 2-3 years ago. When I go to OC, it takes no less then 2-3 hours? They photograph you each year and full finger prints every year? Why? Shouldn’t LE (due to this life changing event) streamline the process in order to protect both parties? 2-3 hours each time! Comments? So, OC input via a young girl we attempted to register? How will we know when to return? What if I took the bus/took a day off of work and went down there May 1st? How will anyone know? The virus we be affecting everyone’s lives for at least 1 more year and clearly the protocols, social distancing and numerous other things will change forever! Thoughts? Ideas? The lawsuit is clearly the only option.

In summary, the registration process (LB does a pretty good job/your in and out) should be quick/safe and streamlined. OC is terrible? Who wants to sit 2 plus hours/be finger printed each year (are they cleaning the equipment) and exposed to who knows what? This is disturbing.

Wait. “Difficult for the government to change current registration procedures,” ??

Governor Newsom signed an executive order on April 1 waiving all kinds of laws that protect the public AND healthcare workers until the State of Emergency is lifted . He waived current staffing ratios in hospitals, allowed healthcare personnel to practice without a license, and did away with strict sterile methods required by pharmacists while compounding drugs. And these are just the waivers related to the healthcare field!
Laws can and are waived under certain circumstances. And it is the Governor who needs to do it!

LA Courts are a mess. Numerous officers/support staff have contracted the virus. I imagine most inmates are on lockdown? Defendants are being arraigned via video conferencing? Can you imagine (I bet this is the time to get a plea agreement) going to trial? How about being a juror? I just filed my COR in LA County and I think it’s going to be interesting. I bet this process will extend past the fall and the processes/procedures will last for some time. Nothing will be the same. As such, the process to register should be streamlined and the location should be done in both a safe/professional setting. I have complete faith in JB’s lawsuit. It will prevail. Turn this negative into a positive!

I am worried because my local PD (Glendora) is refusing to register me at all. Will I be in violation of registration laws because they refused me? Will the Department of Justice simply issue a warrant for my arrest? What am I supposed to do?

Shiits about to get real !! 😷

I concur. Santa Ana is a mess? When do we go back? Call? When I called the listed number on the door, I was under the impression I was registering? I attempted (she was clueless) to give her a 2nd address, but she refused? I registered in LB as well, so I have a receipt! How am I suppose to know if I registered or not? Duh.