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National

NC: Registrants Win in North Carolina Court

[ACSOL]

A federal trial court in North Carolina has ruled in favor of registrants whose out-of-state convictions were determined by law enforcement to be “substantially similar” to sex offenses in North Carolina.  As a result of this decision, registrants who were convicted of an out-of-state sex offense prior to December 1, 2006, and who also moved to North Carolina prior to that date are no longer required to register.

The foundation of the Court’s decision was a violation of the substantive due process provision of the 14th Amendment.  Specifically, the court ruled that North Carolina lacked a “meaningful process” to determine whether an out-of-state conviction was similar to a North Carolina conviction.

In its decision, the Court noted that an employee of a sheriff’s office decided that the out-of-state conviction of the one named plaintiff in the case was similar to a North Carolina sex offense.  The plaintiff, however, was not provided a hearing before the determination was made nor an opportunity to appeal that determination after it was made.  The Court also noted that there is no “authoritative guidance regarding how to make the ‘substantially similar’ determination.”  Further, the Court noted that “where is no process, there can be no due process.”

Download a PDF of the decision:

Grabarczyk v. Stein – North Carolina – May 2020

 

Join the discussion

  1. David

    OMG!! 😲 Is this for real?? A federal judge in North Carolina…… in the United States of America!…. actually making sense, astutely applying legal standards and reasoning…. in order to render a valid decision!?? 👏👏👏
    Well, pigs are flying and the cows have come home to roost!!
    (🤔 Maybe he’s infected with common-sense-virus!! I hope there’s an outbreak of it – a nationwide pandemic throughout all branches of the judiciary!) 🤗

  2. Tim in WI

    A big congrats to Robin V. & company over at NCRSOL for the support in Stein. We’ve seen quite a few victories coming out of NC. These wins implicate just how unconstitutional the purveyors of NC law have become even from those of the conservative ilk. Who the hell does North Carolina law enforcement think they are when drawing comparisons between laws of different states. This high!lights just how abusive of authority NC administrative agents have become accustomed to concerning the sexual oriented offender. It also highlights how stupid Justice Scalia’s opinion about gov uses of the database machine infrastructure were in 2003.

  3. TS

    Good precedent. Have to wonder if they will appeal to the 4th CCOA in Richmond…

    Wasn’t there a case in Indiana similar to this that came to a similar outcome? Seems to ring a bell, but it is too early yet to make a tie…

    • TS

      More than 1,000 are positively impacted by this ruling as seen here from the National office: https://narsol.org/2020/05/north-carolina-ordered-to-remove-more-than-1000-from-registry/

    • AJ

      @TS:
      Are you perhaps thinking of Hope v. IN (S. Dist. IN, Indpls. Division) where migrating RCs were made to register even though native RCs with similar offenses were not? I’d have to re-read the case, which I’m not wont to do, to be sure but I think there was a slight difference there versus what seems to have happened in this NC case. I could be wrong–there’s always a first! 😂🤣😂. The case number is 1:16 cv-02865–RLY-TAB.

      • TS

        @AJ

        Yes, that’s the one. Many thanks. I’ll see if I am willing to read it and compare. Could be a while. Just off the description you provide, the diff would be enough to not be similar.

  4. Saddles

    Winning is good in many area’s of justice as we all seek justice. Its the suffering and at times the punitive damaging we can all suffer in many ways. Principal always play san important factor in everything life we all go thru and I am glad these men are off this registry in this ordeal. One has to give thanks for those who care in these issues we all face.

  5. Fred

    Cool beans, but is anything going to be filed when the tiered law takes effect here in Ca? From my understanding Casomb and the Department Of Justice are going to have similar, if not more, authority to classify registrants (whether it be based on out-of-state conviction or classifying tiers off of the bogus static-99 or saratso).

    These “sex offender” laws always seem like a one-way ratchet and a perpetual uphill battle. The new and “improved” laws just trade hell for one group of people to another group of people with most being stuck in the middle of the Venn Diagram in the end.

  6. Keith B.

    Does this mean if my offense was in 1993 in Texas that I can move to North Carolina and not have to register?

    • Interested Party

      Sorry to rain on your thoughts- per the article you have to convicted and move to NC before 2006.

      There might be other options, but I can’t think of any of the top of my head. Best of luck.

  7. Tired of this

    I wonder if a similar challenge can be mounted out here in the west, namely Nevada or Oregon. Here in Oregon, out-of-state offenders are treated differently than if they were convicted here, in that out-of-state offenders can only petition for removal if they were eligible in their original state. I would otherwise likely be eligible to petition, based on my length of time since release.

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