ACSOL Conference a Huge Success
More than 150 people attended ACSOL’s conference held on October 14 and October 15 at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. Conference attendees included registrants and family members from many states including Florida, Texas and Illinois. The conference featured keynote speakers, panels on a variety of topics and ongoing opportunities to network for both registrants and their families.
The conference was led by ACSOL President Catherine Carpenter, who is a law professor and more at Southwestern Law School. Professor Carpenter hosted the conference and moderated two conference panels. She was joined by ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci.
Keynote speaker Caleb Kruckenberg, who is lead PLF attorney on the pending SORNA lawsuit, provided attendees with details regarding that lawsuit and predicted that the lawsuit may ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Currently both parties in the lawsuit are working on court orders that include preparation of an official administrative record. Kruckenberg stated that he believes the current injunction which protects only registrants in California could be extended nationwide. He also stated that he believes the current judge, U.S. District Court Judge Jesus Bernal, could issue a decision in the case within the next 12 months. The PLF attorney believes that regardless of how this judge rules, the decision will be appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Keynote speaker Emily Horowitz shared both the process and the results of gathering information for her newly published book, From Rage to Reason, which discusses challenge faced by registrants and their families. She then moderated a panel of three registrants she interviewed — accountant Norman Harris, attorney Zach Jesse and criminologist Shawn Rolfe — who obtained advanced degrees while on the registry and are now working as professionals in their field.
Keynote speaker Amber Vlangas, Executive Director of the Restorative Actions Alliance, identified possible paths toward abolition of the registry and urged unification of existing organizations dedicated to that cause. She then joined a panel including Brenda Jones, Executive Director of NARSOL, and Janice Bellucci. They all agreed to work together as well as with organizations not represented at the conference to achieve the mutual goal of abolishing the registry.
Keynote speaker Aya Gruber, Professor of Law at USC School of Law, shared the movie, “The Recall”, with the conference attendees. She noted that many people who originally supported the recall of Judge Persky, who sentenced Stanford Brock Turner, ultimately opposed that recall because of its potential adverse impact upon judges and people of color. She also noted that many feminist leaders are among those who opposed Judge Persky’s recall.
Panels included a discussion of research conducted at UCLA regarding women and transgender/nonbinary person on registries led by Dean Lara Stemple of the UCLA School of Laws as well as addiction and treatment for those convicted of a sex offense. Presentations on that panel were made by licensed social worker and former registrant Alex Gittinger, counselor JoEllen Wiggington, PhD and a representative of Sex Addicts Anonymous.
Opportunities and challenges related to housing were presented by attorney Adele Nicholas, Executive Director of Illinois Voices. Employment opportunities and challenges were presented by Mark Judkins, PhD, Sherri Harlow Moreno and Tommy DeLuna.
Attorneys Alex Landon, Jeff Stein, Janice Bellucci and Elie Miller provided information regarding the Tiered Registry Law, including the petitioning process. Together these attorneys have more than 170 years of experience as licensed attorneys in California. They agreed on many topics, including that some individuals are capable of preparing and filing their own petitions. They also agreed that anyone whose petition is challenged by a District Attorney (DA) needs legal representation in order to succeed at the hearing that will be held after the DA ‘s objections.
Emotional support issues were discussed during a panel led by Alex Gittinger that included Yvonne Ruiz and Marty Weiss. All have participated for many years in ACSOL’s bi-monthly emotional support group meetings that take place on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month. These meetings have taken place virtually for the past three years due to the pandemic, however, Gittinger announced that future meetings will be held both in person and virtually. Meeting details will be posted on the ACSOL website.
Psychologist Jay Rice made a presentation at the conference regarding how to cultivate and nourish self worth. The focus of his presentation included both registrants and members of their families.
Attorney Chance Oberstein made a presentation regarding failure to register laws and related court decisions in California. The focus of the presentation was to help registrants avoid convictions for this offense which could adversely affect the date on which they can file a petition for removal from the registry and/or result in a return to custody.
ACSOL will conduct next year’s conference at Southwestern Law School in October 2024. The dates for the conference will be determined by the law school and will be announced by ACSOL as soon as they are available.
ACSOL thanks Carlton Morse who led the conference volunteers as well as Roger Hunnicutt who performed a variety of tasks contributing to the conference’s success.
ACSOL is grateful for the support of Southwestern Law School, in general, and for John Kohler, in particular, who ensured that the conference had all of the logistics it required, including classrooms and signage.