Dear Members and Advocates,
A couple of developments took place in both “Ex Post Facto Plus I” and “Ex Post Facto Plus II” cases this past week. The government filed their responsive pleadings in both. In the case of EPF I, which is pending in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal, the government filed their answer brief and in the case of EPF II, which ispending in the Northern District of Florida, the government filed a Motion to Dismiss.
Neither filings were unexpected. The Appellee is required to file its brief and a Motion to Dismiss has almost become standard for a defendant to file as a first crack at getting a complaint kicked out. What was a bit unexpected (or not necessarily unexpected, but perhaps “surprisingly audacious” would be a more suitable phrase) were the core arguments in each one.
If you recall, EPF I was dismissed because of the Statute of Limitations. A Statute of Limitations is a maximum time after an event within which legal proceedings may be initiated. In this instance, the statute of limitations period is four (4) years, and the government argued that because the plaintiffs in EPF I were added to the sex offender registry more than four years ago, their time to bring a lawsuit challenging it had passed and they were barred.
Aside from appealing EPF I to the 11th Circuit, in order to remedy the statute of limitations issue, the attorneys filed EPF II, which had a plaintiff who was added to the registry less than four years ago and therefore certainly doesn’t have an issue with the statute of limitations, right? Well now the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is arguing Ripeness! In other words, in EPF I they argued that it was too late to bring the lawsuit and in EPF II they argue that it’s too early! I can’t make this stuff up if I tried. In their motion they write, “Plaintiff’s claims are not ripe…namely that she has not suffered an injury-in-fact…Because Plaintiff’s allegations of injury attributable to the Commissioner are purely speculative in nature and in no way imminent, she cannot show that there is sufficient injury to meet Article III’s requirement of a case or controversy that is sufficiently mature”. In other words, because she’s not been arrested for violating one of these laws, it’s premature to sue over them.
Put another way, according to the FDLE, someone added to the registry in 1997 would need to be psychic in order to predict (before their deadline to sue lapsed in 2001) that one day, 20 years down the road, the registry would morph into the monster it is today, requiring multiple in-person trips to the sheriff’s office to report something benign as a 3-day absence from home (when it was originally 14 days). Also according to the FDLE, someone needs to wait until they are arrested for violating an unconstitutional law before they have standing to sue over it. As if living under a statute that says ‘if you fail to do this you will be arrested and charged with a third degree felony with a minimum mandatory sentence’ is not enough! Oh… but don’t wait too long to get arrested, because if you wait four years it will be too late for you to sue!
Also surprisingly audacious is their explanation of “within 48 hours”. They write, “The answer to this hypothetical question is that “within 48 hours before” means the offender cannot report less than 48 hours before departure.” OH REALLY?!?!?!? So “within 48 hours” means “no less than the 48 hours outside that time”?!?! So if FDLE says you can report anytime outside of the 48 hours nearest the event, why are so many people getting arrested for failure to register a vehicle or internet identifier “within 48 hours”? They just didn’t get around to it yet… they will register the vehicle during the indefinite amount of time they have outside of the “within 48 hour” window! Perhaps next month? How can you arrest them if “within 48 hours” hasn’t elapsed yet?
If this weren’t such a sensitive, politically charged issue, it would almost be laughable in any courtroom. I cannot imagine a litigator walking into court on a contract matter arguing that “payment due within 48 hours of delivery” means the payment was due anytime outside of the 48 hours after goods were delivered. But this is sensitive, politically charged, and because of that common sense is flying out the window. If sarcasm won any points in the judicial system we could argue to the 11th Circuit that we’re actually not barred by the statute of limitations because according to the FDLE “within 4 years” means we can sue no less than 4 years succeeding the date!
Of course the appellate court justices are unlikely to have the same appreciation for sarcasm as those of you reading this… but then again, they are also not living under the punitive nightmare that is the sex offender registry. For us, if we can’t laugh over these absurdities, we would have to cry. We’re not about to do that. We’ll just keep fighting.
The Florida Action Committee.
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SOME HEADLINES FROM THE WEEK
One sure way to lose a popularity contest is to fight for the rights of convicted sex offenders. But The National Sex Offender Registry, which was established during an era of panic over crime and child danger, has come with a host of unintended consequences….
The Montana legislature seems to agree that being on the sex offender registry is punishment, for which one incorrectly placed on it would receive compensation if exonerated. House Bill 92, created a process through which the wrongfully convicted and imprisoned can…
The Supreme Court will soon consider whether to hear a First Amendment challenge to a Louisiana law that required driver’s licenses to identify sex offenders. According to a Louisiana law, people convicted of sex crimes must use driver’s licenses with the words ‘sex…
Yesterday we got 3 notifications that they were scam targets. One would think that with enough complaints the FDLE would take measures to track these scammers down, but apparently they don’t. This was from a member: I wanted to let you know about a scam that has been…