Bullies come in all sizes. There are schoolyard bullies who steal children’s lunch money. There are gang members who steal people’s cars. And there are terrorists who hijack airplanes.
What these bullies have in common is that they threaten and intimidate others. And when their threats and intimidation don’t work, they sometimes resort to violence.
In the registrant community, bullies abound. Sometimes they come in the form of a parole officer who threatens to return a registrant to prison if he does not do what they are told to do. Sometimes they come in the form of a landlord who evicts you from an apartment where you have lived for 12 years after a neighbor complained. And sometimes they come in the form of an employer who refuses to hire you.
There are other bullies that affect the registrant community who may be less obvious. Many of those bullies are attorneys. Attorneys who prosecute individuals charged with a sex offense despite little or no evidence. Attorneys who attempt to bury in paper those who represent registrants.
A group of such attorneys can be found today in the Office of the Attorney General of Missouri. They began their bullying campaign when they attempted to overturn a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by a federal district court. That order prevented the Attorney General and all prosecutors in that state from charging and convicting registrants who refused to post a sign on their home on Halloween.
The Attorney General’s initial efforts to overturn the TRO were ultimately unsuccessful when the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a terse denial of their motion. Undaunted by this failure, however, the Attorney General filed a motion to appeal the TRO in the 8th Circuit as well as a motion to dismiss the case in the federal district court.
Never mind that the 8th Circuit had already ruled in favor of the TRO. Never mind that the federal district court had already found that there was a likelihood of success in the case.
So why did the Attorney General file these and other related motions? Because they are bullies and because they hoped that registrants lacked the stamina and resources necessary to oppose them.
Some people believe the best way to deal with a bully is to punch them in the nose. That is because most bullies are actually cowards and run away when their threats are mirrored back to them.
Metaphorically speaking, that is what happened this week when we filed in the 8th Circuit a motion to dismiss the Attorney General’s appeal of the TRO. The basis of that motion was the Attorney General’s failure to meet court deadlines. The court could have and did indeed modify its deadlines, but instead of complying with the new court deadlines, the Attorney General ran away and voluntarily dismissed its appeal.
It’s unlikely that the bullies in the Attorney General’s office will end their efforts soon. While they consider their next move, however, the Attorney General should remember that they have lost every battle so far and in doing so, they have wasted a significant amount of taxpayer dollars. Perhaps they should also remember the story of David v. Goliath and the fact that it was David (registrants) and not Goliath (Attorney General) who was the ultimate winner. We have the stamina and the resources necessary to win this war, to protect the registrants of Missouri and their families. We will prevail.