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CommentaryGood News!National

South Carolina Supreme Court Declares Lifetime Registration Without Court Assessment to be Unconstitutional

[ACSOL]

The Supreme Court of South Carolina issued a decision today that declared unconstitutional lifetime registration in that state because the state does not provide registrants “any opportunity for judicial review to assess the risk of re-offending.”  Specifically, the Court ruled that lifetime registration violates the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.

“Because of this decision, registrants in South Carolina will no longer be required to register for life unless and until a court assesses their risk of re-offending,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci.  “This is a big step in the right direction, however, it remains to be seen if registrants’ rights will be protected during those court assessments.”

In its decision, the Court determined that South Carolina’s current lifetime registration requirement is not “rationally related to the legislature’s stated purpose of protecting the public from those with a high risk of re-offending.”  The Court then explained that “the lifetime inclusion of individuals who have a low risk of re-offending renders the registry over-inclusive and dilutes its utility by creating an ever-growing list of registrants that is less effective at protecting the public and meeting the needs of law enforcement.”

The Court noted in its decision that “there is no evidence in the record that current statistics indicate all sex offenders pose a high risk of re-offending.”  The Court also noted that “recent empirical studies cast significant doubt on the pronouncement…that sex offenders’ risk of recidivism is ‘frightening and high.'”  One of those studies, “Frightening and High,” was written by ACSOL board member Ira Ellman.

In its decision, the Court also ruled that the state government of South Carolina may lawfully publish personal information about a registrant on the internet, including but not limited to, the state’s Megan’s Law website.

Download a PDF of the decision:

Powell v. Keel – South Carolina – lifetime registration unconstitutional – June 2021

 

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Holy crap! This is huge! They based this on US Constitution AND empirical evidence! It can’t get better than that!

Don’t get your hopes up. Michigan declared retroactive application to extend 25 years registration to life to also be unconstitutional, and the legislature was ordered to rewrite the sora law, but they did nothing to change the lifetime registration.

It’s a LOT different when the State courts make this decision about State laws. The sway the Federal Courts have over States isn’t quite as robust, which is why MI has been able to slow-walk the Snyder decision.

The deep state conserving the unprecedented mass surveillance power wrought via the database driven infrastructure. Is not sex offender registration the first proprietary example of state utilizing electronic citizen surveillance via compelled database maintenance and broadcast? That is also the crux of the advantages of having a tech friendly official agenda setter.

I don’t live in SC nor am I required to register anymore but I still keep up to date on everything happening in respects to the hit list. Rulings have come back and taken people that were off the list and put them back on.

This ruling is excellent. The fact that it was stated
The Court also noted that “recent empirical studies cast significant doubt on the pronouncement…that sex offenders’ risk of recidivism is ‘frightening and high.

This means a lot that the court actually said this!!

Let freedom ring!!

Looks like Megan’s law is crumbling right before our eyes the United States of America is starting to back pedal on life time punishment for all sex offenders they know it’s only a matter of time before this Powder Keg explodes.
[Edited by ACSOL Moderators]

Good luck 💀

Last edited 3 months ago by AERO1

UNCONSTITUTIONAL! without court assessment!
Precisely, the same argument i make during my pretrial FTR PLEADINGS.
NO DOC-20, No signed waiver of rights via plea! Like i have stated before Connecticut DPS v Doe was upheld because those “similarly situated” lost 9-0 had signed state’s standard waiver (WI sec.971- civil trial procedure).

McMasters will just appeal the ruling. You, know, the same AG that proudly brought back the firing squad?

Last edited 3 months ago by Facts should matter

@Facts

Let them appeal to SCOTUS. I doubt they’d hear it like Muniz from PA wasn’t heard when appealed. It’s enough the court will see Kennedy was off in his argument.

The ultimate advantages had by owning the agenda setter(s).

I don’t see SCOTUS ignoring something like this that’s based off empirical evidence directly related to “freighting and high”, which was the corner stone for the 2003 Smith v Doe ruling. They can’t let a ruling like this stand for a single district since it’s not based on the state constitution, but the US one in addition to factual information.

Historically speaking we’ve seen Catholic Judges side with unionized socialist workers party to great ruin and some of them eventually faced trials in Nuremburg, Germany.

Is there a basis for a federal appeal? This was the South Carolina Supreme Court ruling a state criminal law unconstitutional. I’m not sure the U.S. courts even have jurisdiction in the matter. But then, I’m not a lawyer.

@Ed C:
Since the SC SC decided it based on the 8th and 14th Amdts., yes. It’s up to the State to appeal to SCOTUS. I’m betting they don’t because they’ll drag every single State and AWA/SORNA down with them.

But if they don’t appeal and this ruling stands, won’t this cause a bunch of problems anyway due to the ruling being based on the interpretation of the US constitution plus empirical evidence? Not to mention the great split it would create between SC and everyone else? This isn’t just a ruling based on some legal technicality. There’s some very strong things behind the ruling.

I think US Supreme Court will not grant cert on South Carolina’s claim. I think they’ll keep their mouth shut and not tred on their (SC) right to self determination on this one. Unlike Packingham, which would have lead to all 50 barring all sex offenders from internet access, this case surely will not see an avalanche of cases nationwide.

As I have stated many many times. This is much more about legit gov use of database than the offender. The offender part is actually about coercive marketing regarding the people’s perception about the safety derived from the utilization of the database driven infrastructure in general.

Thats a good question, but I think the Supreme court would still rule against them, or wouldn’t even take the case since theyve already displayed they dont want to make rulings on said issues that would affect all states.

SCOTUS doesn’t often or typically reach out to confirm rulings unless it sees a major issue elsewhere in and/or across the nation which needs correcting. I believe SCOTUS would decline this case for the same reason it declined Snyder: the lower court made the proper ruling. IMO, only if/when a case comes to SCOTUS that is contrary to Snyder or this SC SC case will there be a chance SCOTUS accepts.

You’re right Aj, the court rarely advances opinion outside of the question at hand. Yet in the entrails of Connecticut DPS v Doe03 it did! That court went out of its way to point out they “had not” addressed the substantive due process 14th Amendment claim when the “procedural” was the question. A claim not available to those “similarly situated.”
That question the ” procedural ” one is in play during FTR + expost registrants scenario.

They can appeal, but the next court will have to directly address the fact that the findings were based empirical evidence. Evidence that says the entire bases of “frightening and high” is false. And this evidence won’t change because we know it’s true. Yes, they could say that’s irrelevant and legislature could do whatever they want as long as they totally have “good intentions” behind it because the law allows that, but that’ll open an entire other can of worms they won’t want. This ruling being on sheer facts and not legal technicalities (see most rulings against us) is damn huge!

This will poke holes the governments boat made from lies. I guess these entities will have to invent some more lie to patch the holes.

Last edited 3 months ago by Harry

Janice said long ago that victory will come not by a single giant ruling, but by many small victories in courts across the country. That is why the tiered registry is important, it was one more victory in the right direction. All the small victories are ammunition for the bigger cases. We are getting there, but some places like Florida need some serious help.

We’ve beat this to death but I think the tiers are a step backward. The main problem with them is that they support the idea that the Hit Lists make sense and are legitimate. That is the opposite of reality.

The Hit Lists are a giant piles of feces. They can polish it as much as they like. They can push pieces of it around here and there. Take some pieces away and add some in. It will never stop being a pile of feces that not only protects no one, but is actually counterproductive and trivial to neutralize. People need to stop placating the dummies and stay in reality. America has placated dummies, in many ways, for way, way too long.

@Will Allen:
They also show the one-size-fits-all is BS, which is indeed helpful. Next step is movement from offense-based to risk-based, which also is not the outcome desired but is a step ahead. The more the sheeple can be soothed about us monsters, the better.

I have to agree with you. After all, it would make sense if a tier was based in science, but as of now its nothing but emotional nonsense. One example is Tier III which is lifetime and is considered the most dangerous offenders. The problem is how is molestation of a 13 year old “not as bad” as if said individual was 12? The 12 year old victim gets one put in tier III and labeled a sexually violent predator, while those with a 13 year old victim is a tier II and can still get off the registry, even if they did the exact same thing. Basically the registry is nothing more than emotional politics……

@The Truth

Unfortunately, lines have to be drawn somewhere and they’ve decided that committing a crime against a pre-teen is worse than against teenagers. Same could be argued about why is it ok to be with an 18 year old but not a 17 year old? Many sex crimes also stipulate that if the victim is over 10 years of age different than the perpetrator then it increases the penalties. Why is 10 years worse than 9?

In the end, it’s just about having the line drawn in the sand. In reality there may not be much of a difference, but legally there is.

The Court also noted that “recent empirical studies cast significant doubt on the pronouncement…that sex offenders’ risk of recidivism is ‘frightening and high.’”

Is it me, or did the South Carolina Supreme Court just give SCOTUS the middle finger???

@G4

IIRC, this is not the first time a lower court has given SCOTUS the what for and middle finger on their lingering thinking by Kennedy of “frightening and high”.

I keep hoping “false data ghosts of people forced to register cases” past visit Roberts in his sleep to awaken him in a cold sweat and cause him to have a second thoughts, but that has not happened it appears…yet.

Sir, you are finger pointing and your inclination is dead on.
Monstanto has their man too, he’s just not the top dog.

This statement made me tear up with joy. The legal paper “Frightening and High” is being cited in an actual court?!

While we have been hearing reports from CASOMB and others about low recidivism rates, this is the first time I’ve seen “Frightening and High” being cited in an actual court by the court.

We get this bombshell and combine that with the ALI model penal code (MPC) finalization, then it feels as though we went from a snail pace to ludicrous speed in the movement.

I was wondering when someone would go after the lifetime business. Hope this is precedent for other states…..California

I would like to write this here , since it seems to apply,

“ When people talk about traveling to the past, they worry about radically changing the present by doing something small, but barely anyone in the present thinks they can radically change the future by doing something small”.

🤔

oral arguments are on youtube please go and up-vote it so it gets more attention

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTPq69kGgiE

Here is the Justia website with the case synopsis and opinion ready to read: Powell v Keel, 2021, https://law.justia.com/cases/south-carolina/supreme-court/2021/28033.html

This is a good victory for lifetime registrants, but the state still seems to think it’s OK to publish a registry publicly online. They obviously need to receive the latest guidance from ALI.

I reached out to a South Carolina defense attorney for an interview regarding this ruling. She told me that she was surprised to hear that other states were not lifetime registration similar to South Carolina. Very interesting…

https://youtu.be/nHEpo22MEjI

Great to be on top of this. Those of us in SC need to reach out to the local NARSOL affiliate so we can start effectively advocating more prominently, now that we have a chance to shape future legislation as required by the ruling. We need to begin introducing our local reps to the facts so they don’t craft a bunch of garbage for a ‘solution’.

Sounds to me like the court is just pressuring the state lawmakers to implement the RAI…
Then SC will be just like everybody else…

How can the circuit court also determine SORA does not permit publication of the state’s sex offender registry on the internet and then reverse this? It is either permitted or it’s not.

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