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PA: Supreme Court rules 2nd Generation Registration non-punitive

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Opinion holding that Pennsylvania’s second-generation sex offense registration statute is non-punitive and thus ex post facto challenges against it fail.

Case Summary and Details

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😠 Speechless and angry!! 😡

Flyers, Protests, Go Fund Me and all Orgs. And Protests and getting all REGISTRANTS TOGETHER EVEN IF IT VIOLATES THE BS LAWS TO SHOW DEMONSTRATIONS !
Lets get ammunition together people and take this Non Punitive Judgements in Everones face until we are heard for Truth and Justice not a compromised life of secondary acceptable citizens based on Biased Courts Opinions not Facts !
Thanks …to all those that take the stand for this cause !!!

Very disappointed but I’m not surprised. At least Europe learned from history after WW 2, but The witch hunt continues in the United States of Oppression.

Quantity of times to register in a year as well as number of offenses related to determines punishment and retroactiveness? That’s a new court low in thinking IMO. Once is ok but four times is too much? The damage is done at once! SMH

I have to state it again.
Sex offender registration has always been FAR more about the potential government uses of the database infrastructure than the offenders themselves. Our gov agencies and associated contractors desire unfettered use!

That’s he sex offenders was and is a scapegoat for surveillance saints and their programs that generate cash and more importantly political security for certain embedded entities that thrive off of gov contracts.

“On January 17, 2018, Witmayer filed a timely, pro se PCRA petition. The PCRA court appointed counsel, who filed an amended petition. ”
On January 17, 2018, Witmayer tried to play lawyer and filed a DIY petition. Because it was not done by a real attorney, a court appointed counsel, redid his petition.

But which groups were advantaged most from the OMNI CRIME BILLS IN THE 90s?
Lawyers and electronic surveillance saints.

Wow. I don’t get it. Well, I do…but I don’t. I didn’t even read it to be honest. It just makes me sick and I am working right now so I can pay taxes to pay them their salary so…… I am just really tired of the willingness to purposely set out to prevent people from getting themselves in a position to not be a risk to themselves, their families and society. Their feeling morally superior is more important.

With ever growing hunger of the registry there will be day soon when one or more of these judges’ beloved will be caught up on thing.

While watching 1st amendment Audits on YouTube and Seeing government officials don’t even understand the constitution. How can judges? Judges across this country aren’t smarter than a preschooler. Government officials are dumb

@Harry, et al

Who’s to say a beloved politician, judge, or justice hasn’t already had a family member caught up in a crime where the punishment, err, ah, civil price club membership, wasn’t already known and a backroom deal wasnt made to keep the name from going public?

All this legal garbage talk, I wish they would talk English.
I just don’t understand how they can just violate the constitution, I was sentenced with a 10 year registration in 1999, who is the government to just change my sentence to lifetime registration just because, that is violation of my plea agreement and its double Jeopardy

Is the only hope left Colorado and Michigan? What is taking so long for Colorado?????

Florida has a case or 2 that may be ending up at SCOTUS still a few years away

What cases are those?

I hope those Florida cases are moving forward. A couple of years ago, I gave a sizable amount of money to one of the Florida cases and haven’t heard a damn thing since. 😤

@Steve,. We here in Michigan are just waiting for this State of Emergency Order to end, so the 60 day clock can start on the legislature. We are hoping Judge Cleland will step in and do something sooner. My conviction was in 1992 before Michigan even had a registry. 28 years later still on it. Now I’m just waiting for this Covid-19 emergency orders to end so I and thousand of others can finally be removed from Michigan’s registry. I truly wish you all the best.

Based on my quick read of the Decision, it seems PA SC is saying this new SORNA is “close enough” to both AWA and the Smith situation as to be rendered nonpunitive. They don’t outright say that, that’s just the vibe I get from their words.

If the previous SORNA required in-person notification of changes to information (vehicles, Internet ID, etc) and this one does not, then it is indeed a significant reduction in affirmative disability, never mind the reduction from 4 to 1 for registration visits.

Hi AJ! Thought I would drop by to read this one.

You should really just skip to the dissenting opinion to see where the logic of the majority failed here. They made some crucial mistakes during their determination that certain Mendoza martinez factors no longer point to punitive. The biggest mistake was one factor that they said was no longer punitive because it reduced in person from 4 to 1 a year. They are incorrect because frequency was not part of the equation. It was the reporting itself and no the frequency that made it punitive in the original munez decision.

The other issue is that the new law DOES NOT specify law enforcement cant require in person visits to update information. It just doesn’t mandate it. So he could very we’ll still have to report in person for every minor change.

The dissent is a good read. Start there and you won’t even need to bother with the majority because he summarizes it.

A very bad decision.

@Chris f – They know what they did. They’re not stupid. And they kicked the can down the road. This issue will be revisited in a few years.

@Chris f:
Good to see you ’round these parts again, brother. I agree it’s a horrible decision. All I’m saying is that I believe PASC has decided that if the law sufficiently resembles AWA, it’s good to go. I disagree, as I think AWA, too, is punitive.

As for the reductions in disability, unfortunately many courts have found appearing in-person once per year to be de minimus. (It’s hardly de minimus to those required to comply!) This annual appearance is also in line with AWA. Again, that doesn’t make it right, just “popular.”

Yes, it’s a bad decision and PASC seems to have eroded its stance from Muniz. Sadly.

If there’s any federal element to this suit, which I didn’t notice there to be, I would love to see it appealed to SCOTUS. Heck, I’d love to see AWA at SCOTUS.

I liked reading the removal portion as it will has direct connections to California’s Tiered registry where the DA and judge have discretion:

*** Start of Excerpt ***
Second, the mechanism provides only an opportunity to seek relief; such relief is far from a guarantee. The petitioner must make a compelling showing—indeed, by clear and convincing evidence—that, after a lengthy period of time, he or she is not likely to pose a threat to anyone. In this regard, the trial court still retains discretion to deny the petition. Additionally, the requirement is not limited to the threat that the offender will commit additional sexual offenses, nor is the potential threat limited to his or her original victim or to a similar person or age group. The court can exercise its discretion to deny the petition if it concludes that the offender may pose any threat to any person, in any
circumstances, even if entirely unrelated to the goals articulated by the General Assembly in enacting this statutory scheme. I do not find the mechanism to be “illusory,” as the trial court did in these cases, but I nonetheless am unable to ignore the high bar that it sets. The standard of proof, the court’s discretion, and the broad showing of nondangerousness required of the offender—the proof of a negative—make achieving relief exceedingly difficult, such that the mere potential for such relief does not mitigate the other aspects of Subchapter I that are excessive.

This factor weighs in favor of a finding that Subchapter I is punitive.
*** End of Excerpt ***

The decision moves the goal post as it blatantly ignores the traditional punishments as well as its deterrence and retributive aspects.

There are restraints on liberty. That is punishment.

Of course there are restraints on liberty that come with 290 registration.

Restraints on / restrictions of liberty are punishment. If you need someone to support this (obvious) fact, look no further than Orange County DA Todd Spitzer.

From “Dangerous Child Predator Recently Released from State Mental Hospital Once Again Required to Register as Sex Offender” (convicted of a misdemeanor over 35 years ago):

“…he was released without the very restrictions we fought so hard to have imposed to allow residents to protect themselves and their children from exactly these kinds of sexual predators. Instead he was allowed to move around freely without any restriction on where he lived, what he did, or who he came in contact with. Today, the children of Orange County and all of California are safer as a result of these restrictions once again being imposed.”

Say it one more time, Todd. Restrictions. Punishment. Thank you.


It seems as though the state is continually moving the goal post, but doing it incrementally so as to not sound the alarm of infringing upon civil rights while perpetuating the fear mongering that all sex offenders are only monsters; monsters do not have civil rights.

2003 Smith v Doe made the registry not similar to traditional forms of punishment because the SCOTUS are not electronically inclined to admit the similarities while painting registrants as monsters with a recidivism rates that are “high and frightening”.

That’s the pattern to keep removing civil rights. Step 1. Monsters have no rights. Step 2. Remove civil rights by stating it isn’t exactly the same as the “historical punishment”. Step 3. Disregard any facts that destroys the narrative.

They’re gonna try to find a way to say that the registry is not punitive and that it is for safety but they are going to have a real hard time proving that because that’s nothing but confusion.

I don’t think that they have to prove it is not punitive. The government will do what they want because the control force and people will support it because they are ruled by fear mongerinf

From NASOL’s website

The in-person reporting requirements that remain in Subchapter I are minimal and clearly necessary, and we thus find Subchapter I does not impose any direct affirmative disability or restraint. As the above Mendoza-Martinez analysis clearly reflects, Subchapter I effected significant changes from the original version of SORNA, retroactive application of which we found unconstitutional in Muniz. To summarize, we find three of the five factors weigh in favor of finding Subchapter I nonpunitive. Additionally, we give little weight to the fact Subchapter I promotes the traditional aims of punishment and give significant weight to the fact Subchapter I is narrowly tailored to its nonpunitive purpose of protecting the public.”

Sure it’s not the wanted posters of the old west; but it’s pretty damn close with anyone wanting to do harm to you for a decades old crime, non contact offenses, and other bull crap that gives one a membership. If the registry isn’t punitive why do government officials get off Scott free!! I hope Epstein’s girlfriend sings like canary!! Crumbling down the wall and hopefully some high political will fall getting a taste of their heroic laws.

“the fact Subchapter I is narrowly tailored to its nonpunitive purpose of protecting the public.”

Just HOW does it protect the public? If it is a FACT and all.

You cannot make a claim and then use said claim and nothing else as a basis for calling something “clearly! necessary”. On what planet???

And IF it did protect the public (a fact which justifies its existence), why are not all criminals required to register likewise? It being non-punitive and all…..

This is so bizarre…..

Using the guise of “protecting the public” has allowed the unconstitutionality of the registry. What is levied upon registrants is outside “prison, fine, or execution”, which should be scrutinized for its constitutionality.

I don’t understand the over-use of that “protect the public” excuse either. That should exist only for issues not related to a crime. With a crime, protecting the public is already part of the government’s scheme and should occur during trial. The punishments and restraints on liberty must be the least needed for the required affect.

I probably shouldn’t of posted what I saw on NASOL’s website; yet I thought it was important especially if one isn’t well read in legal issues. While reading it this morning it made my brain hurt that a court would rule on those grounds and I wanted to see what others thought.

I don’t see in the constitution where it says ex post facto laws are permitted as long as it’s regulatory. The sentence consist of 12 words. “No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed.” Period. So where exactly did this loophole come from and where, if not in the constitution, can it be read? If I understand it correctly then NO ex post facto LAW, whether regulatory, punitive or otherwise, can be created & used against tax paying American citizens. Am I wrong? What am I missing here? Can you help a brother understand? Or is everyone else as confused as I am? And when the end result of a regulatory law is a prison sentence, how is it “not punishment”?

That is why we have Constitutional Lawyers in the “system” to help make sense of all this nonsense. I for one am gathering argument here that pertains to the Constitution, and will probably hire and sit down with said attorney and try and get some of these questions answered…

Somewhere along the line, ex post facto changed from any penalty to only punitive penalty. I forgot where I read the changes.

This doesn’t mean that the Muniz decision is being revised does it?

Read up on “Calder v. Bull” a 1798 (yes, 1798) decision by SCOTUS that decided ex post facto only applies to criminal laws. Shocking but true that even at the birth of our republic, SCOTUS was creating law and undermining the words of the Constitution.

Thanks for clearing that up for me @AJ. Yeah, that small sentence didn’t seem to serve their purpose just quite enough, did it?

How many people have been murdered and attacked because they have been on the registry? When Smith v. Doe was published, the number was really small. Since then, tons of people have been attacked/murdered because they have been on the registry. Countless others have been denied employment and housing because of the public registry. If that is not Cruel and Unusual Punishment, then what is??

Point is the public registry subjects you to the possibility of being murdered and physically attacked!! That IS punishment!!

Why is this not being pointed out by the Attorneys?? The possibility of the death penalty for being on the Megan’s Hit List is Cruel and Unusual which is banned by the Eighth Amendment!!

It’s become the Achilles heal of the justice system, trying to defend the indefensible means going against the grain. There are those who do fight and ARE trying to restore balance but it’s an ugly tree now with some deeply entrenched roots. The public image has been rigidly and unfairly shaped by the media and the politicians. The courts aren’t exactly enthusiastic about these types of cases. But barriers are being broken here and there so it’s coming around.

People have to stop assuming the worst about rsos and using that image to justify stricter laws. It’s a tall order for sure but society has to make the turn and people have to make it happen

Obviously a prsident Kamala Harris wouldn’t help make that happen so…yeah. People need to pay attention all around and see who’s getting through unnoticed.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x