From a side-battle in the Ex Post Facto Plus case, new insight is emerging as to just how ambiguous, vague and subjective the Florida Sex Offender registration statute is. Plaintiffs in the case have fought for anonymity, which was granted for the case, but the Defendant (FDLE) clearly knows who they are.

When it comes to litigating a couple of claims (such as the fact that the statue is vague and impossible, in many cases to comply with), one of Plaintiffs’ roles is to testify to personal examples where they didn’t understand the requirements of the statute or the requirements were impossible to comply with. To testify would require them to hand over information that could subject them to arrest. Not only that, but the party they are suing is the one that has the power to arrest them.

Should a Doe testify that he/she relied on an interpretation of “day” or “within 48 hours” that didn’t match a law enforcement officer’s interpretation (hence the language being vague), they could be arrested. If they could be arrested for testifying it doesn’t pay to testify and without testimony how can Plaintiffs present their case? You get the dilemma.

To protect their clients by enabling them to testify without the fear of being arrested for something they might disclose, attorneys for the Does have been fighting a side-battle with the FDLE to expand the protective order. The pleadings that have gone back and forth between the Does and the FDLE on this side-issue have highlighted just how vague the statute is, because the FDLE’s own experts themselves have conflicting interpretations as to what those phrases mean! If you are looking for some weekend reading that will make you scratch your head, check out the Plaintiff’s Reply that follows: Does v. Swearingen – Response to Mot to Extend Protective Order


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