Dear Members and Advocates,

Yesterday a new Justice was sworn in to the Supreme Court of the United States. Amy Coney Barrett has joined the nation’s top court and with a lifetime appointment, at the age of 48 she will probably be around for many of our lifetimes. So the question many of you are probably asking is how Justice Barrett has ruled on “sex offender issues”… During her tenure on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Justice Barrett authored two notable opinions on these issues; Beley v. Chicago and United States v. Walker.

In Beley v. Chicago, she rejected the claims of a class of homeless registrants, that the city’s refusal to register them under the Illinois Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) deprived them of due process. They wanted to be registered to avoid an arrest, conviction and up to five years in prison for failing to register. The named plaintiff’s attempts to register were rejected by the city of Chicago because they had no identification card or proof of an address. They were subsequently arrested for failure to register. The Court held that the ability to register under SORA is not a cognizable liberty interest that would trigger the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of due process (ie: a deprivation of life, liberty or property). Arguably that one didn’t go the right way for the homeless registrants.  More recently though, in United States v. Walker, Judge Barrett authored an opinion that reversed the lower court’s decision and vacated the sentence of a defendant who was convicted for failing to register under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). The appellate court found that the person’s underlying sex offense did not have the necessary elements to carry a 25-year registration requirement, but instead triggered a different, 15-year federal registration requirement that had already lapsed – therefore the defendant had no duty to register under Federal SORNA and accordingly could not be convicted of failing to do something he had no obligation to do. It’s pretty fair to say this one did go the right way for the registrant. So it really is a mixed bag and we’ll have to wait until a case comes before the SCOTUS to see how it goes.

Thank you to those who have shared your events on our ‘Why is the Registry Punishment?’ post. These examples will be helpful in showing that the registry is actually punishment, despite what some courts say. If something happened to you that is inarguably punishment and that was tied to the registry (ie: fired from a job after someone found out your history, denied access to your children’s school or event, etc.) and you have not yet shared it, please add it to our list of punishments created by the registry. You can add it anonymously if you prefer, we are not looking for names, just facts. A note to those who have posted responses to other’s events or who added comments; you likely noticed your comments were not published. For this post we are ONLY looking for facts – we are not looking for commentary or discussion. If you contributed something that was not published, please don’t take it personally, just know that we are compiling a list and each comment will be an item on that list.

Finally, this week is the last weekly update before Halloween. In past years we always dedicated at least one weekly update to highlighting the now-widely-debunked urban myth that sex crimes against children spike during Halloween. This year seems a bit different. I’m sure it’s mostly due to COVID-19 and the fact that fewer children will be out Trick or Treating or at Halloween gatherings this year, but we also recognize that it absolutely has something to do with the efforts of our Media committee and those of other affiliate organizations, who have devoted a lot of effort over the past several years to pushing back against the sensationalism. Don’t get us wrong, there are still the occasional fear mongering stories out there and some stations, such as News4Jax couldn’t resist the urge to publish a “spooky” story this season to “trick” their readers into believing something that’s not true in order to bait them to their website. If any of you want a “treat”, read some of the comments or post your own… use their web traffic to educate the public.

Sincerely,

The Florida Action Committee


Reminders:

Oct 29 Thursday at 7:30pm ET- Special Hillsborough County member call.  Dial 605-472-5682, Enter code 662073#.  Meet your County Coordinators and let them know your concerns.  They want to hear from you.  Keep your Hillsborough County team connected and working for you.  With Unity Comes Change.

Oct 29 Thursday at 8:00pm ET- Special Orange County member call.  Dial 319-527-3487.  Meet your County Coordinators and let them know your concerns.  They want to hear from you.  Keep your Orange County team connected and working for you.  With Unity Comes Change.

Nov 5 Thursday at 8:00pm ET- Monthly Membership Call Dial 319-527-3487.  Topic: 2020 Florida Election results and Updates from the FAC teams (Legislative, Legal, Media, Membership, Outreach).  If unable to connect, text “Call Me” to 319-527-3487.  You will receive a call-back and be connected to the meeting.

Nov 7 Saturday Noon-3pm – Orange County Workshop in Apopka – Looking for volunteers to help stuff envelopes, prepare for meet local representatives, and plan the annual Holiday party for members.  For location, RSVP to [email protected] or call 904-452-8322, leave name(s) and phone#.

Nov 12 Thursday at 8:00pm ET New Member Orientation Call. Dial 319-527-3487.  Learn more about the FAC organization, resources, and volunteer opportunities. All members are welcome to call. If unable to connect, text “Call Me” to 319-527-3487.  You will receive a call-back and be connected to the meeting.


SOME HEADLINES FROM THIS WEEK

PA: Appellate Court finds registration violates right to reputation under Pennsylvania Constitution in as applied case.

Before you get too excited, this is an as-applied case, meaning the decision only benefits the person challenging and not everyone on the Pennsylvania registry, but it’s a win nonetheless, and a win on a novel argument, so it’s good news. A Pennsylvania intermediate…

Prosecutors ‘cherry-picking’ judges for sex offense cases.

The prosecutor’s office in Cook County, Illinois has been consistently asking that Judge James Linn be removed from hearing cases involving sexual crimes after he gave what prosecutors considered to be too lenient a sentence (18 years) back in 2013. According to this…

Lewdness and the modern age – should ‘mens rea’ come into play.

The Coronavirus changed the way many of us do business. Since face-to-face meetings have largely been suspended for the past six months, our conference rooms have gone virtual with platforms such as Zoom enabling people to attend meetings from the “privacy” of their…

LA: Court Strikes Louisiana’s ‘Sex Offender’ ID Requirement

A WIN!!! Louisiana’s requirement that people convicted of certain sex crimes carry a state-issued ID card with the words “SEX OFFENDER” printed on it in orange capital letters is unconstitutional, the state’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday. The 6-1 ruling upholds a…

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