IMPORTANT: NEW PHONE NUMBER FOR MONTHLY MEMBERSHIP CALL EFFECTIVE 8/2/2018 – SEE BELOW.
Dear Members and Advocates,
“Proof” is a term commonly heard inside a courtroom. You must prove your case. Which side has the ‘burden of proof’? And then to what standard must your proof meet? Is it a preponderance of the evidence? Is it beyond a reasonable doubt?
It would seem obvious that in order to win a court case you’d have to present your proof and the trier of fact (a Judge or a jury) would have to evaluate the quality of your evidence and make their decision. It would seem that the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court of the United States, would have that point nailed. But not so. As Law Professor, Ira Ellman exposed in his article about the SCOTUS’ “Frightening and High” mistake (about sex crime statistics), it is possible to walk into a courtroom and say whatever you want, no matter how baseless, and it can be accepted as fact.
This past week two state decisions fought back on that notion and said ‘enough with the “sex offender” rhetoric, prove this is effective.’ In State v Griffin – NC, a North Carolina appellate court demanded evidence to prove GPS tracking made the public safer before they saddled someone with a GPS monitor for 30 years. Ultimately their conclusion was the State had no proof. The second case was Noe/Doe v. Sex Offender Registry Board a case out of Massachusetts where the Court ruled the State cannot just arbitrarily assign someone to a risk level or determine that they must remain on the sex offender registry for any period of time they determine, without the State proving they still present that level of risk or are a risk at all.
In Massachusetts… “Procedural due process requires that the burden of proof remain with the board to demonstrate the continued appropriateness of the offender’s duty to register, by clear and convincing evidence.” In other words, the Board can’t just walk in and say ‘we feel Mr. X should stay on the registry for 25 years’, but they have to prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that Mr. X is a risk and warrants being on the list for 25 years.
In North Carolina… “The memorandum, however, cited only other court decisions, not evidence, and it did not attach empirical or statistical reports [as to the effectiveness of GPS monitoring]” “The State tries to overcome its lack of data, social science or scientific research, legislative findings, or other empirical evidence with a renewed appeal to anecdotal case law, as well as to “logic and common sense.” But neither anecdote, common sense, nor logic, in a vacuum, is sufficient to carry the State’s burden of proof.”
These two cases are extremely positive. Not just in their outcomes, but because they reflect a shifting trend in the courts to not just buy in to unsupported claims, but to demand proof that the burdensome requirements imposed on individuals in the name of public safety are proven to actually benefit public safety. It’s a position that the SCOTUS will hopefully take next time they are presented with a sex offender case.
The Florida Action Committee
New Member Orientation – Thursday Aug 9 at 8pm ET; learn more about the FAC organization and how you can be an effective member. All new, and seasoned members, are welcome to join the call. See phone numbers below.
SOME HEADLINES FROM THIS WEEK
Florida based private prison company, GEO Group, is using a page out of the playbook of Ron and Lauren Book. When confronted with opposition; sue the person! That’s what GEO Group is threatening to do to Dream Defenders (who describe themselves as a group of young…
FAC has sent the following letter to candidates for Florida’s Governor, in order to assess their position on restoration of civil rights, reform of sex offender laws and other issues of interest to our members. The same letter has been sent to the seven leading…
There are two upcoming events in South Florida you should be aware of. We encourage our members in the area to attend and network with others interested in civil liberties and help spread our message. If there is an event in your area that you would like us to…
The following letter was sent to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. Sheriff Israel’s son, Brett, was accused of committing a sexual assault against another student in his High School. The event took place 4 years ago. Brett has not been charged and an investigation…