July 1, 2015

Debate on Nevada’s version of Adam Walsh Act goes to state’s high court

7-1-15 Nevada:

An injunction against Nevada’s version of the Adam Walsh Act, a sex offender registration plan passed in 2007 but never enacted, was debated before the Nevada Supreme Court on Tuesday morning.

Assembly Bill 579 has been mired in litigation since it was signed into law, with prior constitutional challenges at the Nevada Supreme Court and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A court order barring the state from enacting the law was dissolved in district court in Dec. 2013 and that was appealed to the state’s high court.

Previous hearings on the injunction were postponed to give the Legislature a chance to address concerns about the law.

Las Vegas attorney Robert Langford, on behalf of plaintiff M.W., argued that the state’s high court must reverse the ruling to dissolve the injunction, because the law violates the Nevada constitution. Senior Deputy Attorney General Kimberly Buchanan countered that previous cases have already ruled against Langford’s complaints.

The case is centered on a man, identified only as M.W., who was convicted of attempted incest in Colorado in 1996, when he was 21 years old. Before moving to Nevada, the man was registered as a low-risk sex offender and was not required to notify the community or appear on an online registry.

Langford told the full panel of justices that the injunction was required because his client had a likelihood of success based on the merits of the case, and that allowing the law to go into effect would do irreparable harm to him. Langford’s opening brief asserted that the Adam Walsh Act violated the state constitution in several ways.

While the justices expressed skepticism about Langford’s constitutional arguments, they also appeared open to giving the case a more thorough vetting in district court.

Justices Christina Pickering and Michael Cherry asked how there could be problems with the separation of powers doctrine and the contracts clause, considering the man was convicted in Colorado.

Langford said the state’s judicial powers were still being subverted by the executive branch because the department of public safety was going to overrule a court’s decision about the tier and length of time for which M.W. had to register as a sex offender.

“One could still argue that even though his judicial determination was outside of Nevada, there still was a judicial determination,” he said.

Buchanan refuted Langford’s argument that previous opinions on the law didn’t apply to this case, saying that the issues had all been resolved. The 9th Circuit decided in 2012 that the law could be applied retroactively, and the Nevada Supreme Court said in 2013 that the law could be applied to juveniles.

The state won when it had a much higher burden of proof in the juvenile context, she said.

Buchanan said the Adam Walsh Act registration plan, which would force M.W. to register and appear on public registries for life if enacted, was not a punishment.

The man, who was supposed to have completed his obligation to register by about 2008, may face challenges finding employment and housing if subjected to community notification, according to his lawyers.

But types of public shaming are “collateral consequences” and not an intended punishment. And there’s no need to remand the case for trial, because there are not any additional facts to produce during discovery, Buchanan said.

It’s a “broad constitutional challenge” on its face and not as enacted, she said, adding that no one has actually been harmed by the law.

Justices said the issue of irreparable harm might need to be explored further. Someone could recognize him from an online registry and follow him to a meeting “like they did in South Carolina” and attack.

“Why shouldn’t we return this to the district court for a thorough vetting for constitutional problems?” Pickering said.

The court recognized problems with the Adam Walsh Act in the 2013 case, noting that the bill seemed to have been rushed through a Legislature afraid of losing federal grant funding. This year, Senate Bill 99 addressed critics’ problems with how sex offender laws applied to juveniles, but Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed the measure.

“Some of the issues here may be something that the trial court needs to know about,” Chief Justice James Hardesty said. ..Source.. by Wesley Juhl

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Courts are reconsidering residency restrictions for sex offenders

7-1-15 California:

In 2006, California voters passed "Jessica's Law," a ballot initiative that prohibited registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park. In 2011, crime analyst Julie Wartell of the San Diego County District Attorney's Office analyzed how much housing was left for those offenders. Consulting land-use files, she concluded that just 0.7 percent of multifamily parcels in the county were compliant.

That analysis came as part of a trial court’s hearing in In re Taylor, a habeas corpus case brought by four San Diego County parolees. All four planned to live with family or friends after leaving prison, but they couldn’t because the homes were not compliant with Jessica’s Law. Instead, they ended up living in the alley behind the parole office, in the bed of the (seasonally dry) San Diego River, in vehicles or in noncompliant homes. When plaintiff William Taylor ended up hospitalized, he was rearrested for failing to register the hospital’s address with police.

That’s part of why the California Supreme Court struck down the blanket application of Jessica’s Law in March’s In re Taylor (PDF). The justices noted that parole officers may impose residency restrictions on a case-by-case basis. But they unanimously agreed that universal application of the law violates offenders’ constitutional rights—and doesn’t keep children safe.

The law “has hampered efforts to monitor, supervise and rehabilitate such parolees in the interests of public safety, and as such, bears no rational relationship to advancing the state’s legitimate goal of protecting children from sexual predators,” now-retired Justice Marvin Baxter wrote.

Though the decision applied only to parolees in San Diego County, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation soon extended it to parolees statewide. CDCR spokesman Luis Patino says the state attorney general’s office believes courts would apply Taylor to every county.

California is not the only such state. Later in March, a Michigan federal court struck down application of that state’s “geographic exclusion zones” to six plaintiffs, saying the law is unconstitutionally vague. And in February, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that all local sex offender residency laws are pre-empted by state law, which does not include residency restrictions.

Courts weren’t always so friendly to these challenges. The highest court to rule on residency restrictions, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at St. Louis, ruled in 2005’s Doe v. Miller (PDF) that Iowa’s residency restrictions did not violate offenders’ constitutional rights. That’s an important case, says professor Wayne Logan of Florida State University College of Law. Most courts considering federal challenges on the issue have followed it.

But there are signs that things are changing. Responding to compelling personal stories and mounting evidence that residency restrictions don’t work—and might even hurt public safety—courts are casting a more critical eye on these laws.

“There’s a public appetite for [sex offender laws], but there’s no evidentiary support that either registries or exclusion zones work,” says Miriam Aukerman, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan who represented the plaintiffs in the Michigan case. “And as a result, you’re seeing judges starting to rethink this.”

The facts of Taylor point to one of the biggest criticisms of residency restrictions: They often eliminate so much housing that they force ex-offenders into homelessness. A 2011 report from the California Sex Offender Management Board expressly noted that “nearly 32 percent of sex offenders on parole are homeless due to Jessica’s Law.”

This causes multiple public safety problems, says Jill Levenson, an associate professor of social work at Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida. By barring offenders from living with family members in noncompliant homes, she says, the laws reduce their chances of stable housing, stable jobs and social support, all of which are known to lower the chance of recidivism.

When offenders are homeless—or can plausibly claim to be homeless, then move into non-compliant homes—it’s also harder for police to keep track of them. That’s why the New Hampshire state police supported a bid to eliminate the state’s residency restrictions this year, and it’s one reason Palm Beach County, Florida, relaxed its restrictions in 2014.

And perhaps most damning, Levenson says the consensus among social science researchers is that residency laws don’t reduce recidivism. “We know from decades of research that most child sex abuse victims are well-known to their perpetrators,” she says. “So a person’s residential proximity … is really irrelevant.”

AGAINST THE TRENDS

Those issues were part of the California Supreme Court’s rationale for finding that Jessica’s Law violates parolees’ fundamental rights under the 14th Amendment—rights to do things like establish a home, travel within the state and enjoy privacy and free association. Though parolees have limited constitutional rights, the court said, the law can’t survive even lowered scrutiny be-cause it has no rational relationship to its own goal.

Logan says the ruling bucks several trends. It’s not unusual for state high courts to strike down residency laws, he says, but they’re generally using state constitutions’ ex post facto clauses to nix retroactive application. And it is unusual for courts considering federal law to decide for plaintiffs, he says, because those courts generally follow Miller.

Professor J.J. Prescott of the University of Michigan Law School agrees that federal courts generally have been less friendly than state courts, but he notes that the Michigan decision, Doe v. Snyder (PDF), accepted vagueness arguments—which were rejected in Miller.

And, Prescott says, there’s some evidence that federal courts are compromising—not throwing out laws entirely, but voiding certain provisions. He points to a February decision from the Middle District of Alabama, McGuire v. Strange, which threw out requirements that offenders check in with two police agencies per week and get permission from two agencies before leaving the county. That judge denied other challenges to Alabama’s registration law but called it “the most comprehensive, debilitating sex offender scheme in the land.”

“The facts on the ground [are] changing, and that means the decisions are coming out differently than they otherwise would,” Prescott says. “They’re just not reflexively deciding in favor of the government, as they used to.”

Though Taylor was a victory for Californians subject to residency restrictions, it was paired with a less favorable case. People v. Mosley found that a judge may impose registration and residency requirements without violating the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2000 ruling in Apprendi v. New Jersey, which requires a jury to decide any facts that increase punishment.

BATTLING BANISHMENT

Janice Bellucci, president of California Reform Sex Offender Laws and an attorney in Santa Maria, says Mosley “ducked the issue entirely” of whether residency restrictions are punitive. She’s also not entirely happy with Taylor because it doesn’t affect residency requirements for people who have finished parole. As a result, she says, “we’re going to spend a long time in court trying to clarify the meaning of Taylor.” Her organization expects to file some of those claims.

Bellucci argues that residency restrictions are tantamount to banishment. For example, she says, ex-offenders cannot legally live anywhere in the dense city of San Francisco. And in one case she handled against the Orange County city of Cypress, the only parcels open to ex-offenders were a big-box retail area and a cemetery.

This hurts not only ex-offenders but also the spouses, children and parents who can’t live with them, she says.

“It’s one thing if in fact restrictions would achieve the purported goal, but they don’t,” Bellucci says. “When you have ineffective laws that are violating people’s constitutional rights, it’s time to get rid of them.” ..Source.. by Lorelei Laird

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Regulating Sex

7-1-15 National:

THIS is a strange moment for sex in America. We’ve detached it from pregnancy, matrimony and, in some circles, romance. At least, we no longer assume that intercourse signals the start of a relationship. But the more casual sex becomes, the more we demand that our institutions and government police the line between what’s consensual and what isn’t. And we wonder how to define rape. Is it a violent assault or a violation of personal autonomy? Is a person guilty of sexual misconduct if he fails to get a clear “yes” through every step of seduction and consummation?

According to the doctrine of affirmative consent — the “yes means yes” rule — the answer is, well, yes, he is. And though most people think of “yes means yes” as strictly for college students, it is actually poised to become the law of the land.

About a quarter of all states, and the District of Columbia, now say sex isn’t legal without positive agreement, although some states undercut that standard by requiring proof of force or resistance as well.

Codes and laws calling for affirmative consent proceed from admirable impulses. (The phrase “yes means yes,” by the way, represents a ratcheting-up of “no means no,” the previous slogan of the anti-rape movement.) People should have as much right to control their sexuality as they do their body or possessions; just as you wouldn’t take a precious object from someone’s home without her permission, you shouldn’t have sex with someone if he hasn’t explicitly said he wants to.

And if one person can think he’s hooking up while the other feels she’s being raped, it makes sense to have a law that eliminates the possibility of misunderstanding. “You shouldn’t be allowed to make the assumption that if you find someone lying on a bed, they’re free for sexual pleasure,” says Lynn Hecht Schafran, director of a judicial education program at Legal Momentum, a women’s legal defense organization. ..Continued.. by Judith Shulevitz

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June 30, 2015

Distraught people, Deadly results

The Washington Post is compiling a database of every fatal shooting in the United States by a police officer in the line of duty in 2015. The Post is tracking more than a dozen details about each killing — including (Continued right side of source)
6-30-15 National:

Officers often lack the training to approach the mentally unstable, experts say

It was not yet 9 a.m., and Gary Page was drunk. The disabled handyman had a long history of schizophrenia and depression and, since his wife died in February, he had been struggling to hold his life together.

That bright Saturday morning in March, something snapped. Page, 60, slit his wrists, grabbed a gun and climbed the stairs to his stepdaughter’s place in the Pines Apartments in Harmony, Ind. He said he wanted to die. And then he called 911.

“I want to shoot the cops,” Page slurred to the dispatcher, prodding his stepdaughter to confirm that, yes, he had a gun. “I want them to shoot me.”

Minutes later, Page’s death wish was granted. Two Clay County sheriff’s deputies arrived to find that he had taken a neighbor hostage. They opened fire, striking him five times in the torso and once in the head. Page’s gun later turned out to be a starter pistol, loaded only with blanks. His threats of violence turned out to be equally empty, the product of emotional instability and agonizing despair.

Nationwide, police have shot and killed 124 people this year who, like Page, were in the throes of mental or emotional crisis, according to a Washington Post analysis. The dead account for a quarter of the 462 people shot to death by police in the first six months of 2015.

The vast majority were armed, but in most cases, the police officers who shot them were not responding to reports of a crime. More often, the police officers were called by relatives, neighbors or other bystanders worried that a mentally fragile person was behaving erratically, reports show. More than 50 people were explicitly suicidal. ..Continued..must read.. by Wesley Lowery, Kimberly Kindy, Keith L. Alexander

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200 Years Of 'Sex' In America, In 1 Chart

Fascinating, Must Read!
6-30-15 Global:

What do we talk about when we talk about sex? Usually, well, um, uh, sex.

But over the past couple of centuries, American attitudes toward sex — and the language that surrounds it — have shifted.

"Historically," says Stef Woods, who teaches history at American University and focuses on American popular culture and sexuality, the word sex "was used to describe biological or physical differences. Now, it is more common to use gender or gender assigned at birth and reserve the use of sex for the act."

That distinction, Woods says, is supported by the words that appear in the chart above near the mentions of sex.

The chart is the creation of Frac.tl — a Florida-based marketing company — to demonstrate those shifting American attitudes toward sex. The visual, devised for Dr. Ed., an online British medical service that is sanctioned by the government's National Health Service, also reveals some strong tendencies and trends in America's past.

Methodology

The Frac.tl researchers selected 15 commonly used sex-related terms and ran them through the Corpus of Historical American English. COHA, as it is popularly referred to, is a ginormous online database compiled by Brigham Young University, containing some 115,000 textual sources and roughly 400 million words written and spoken between 1810 and 2009.

The researchers entered the terms and gathered the surrounding context for each of them by collecting all words within 10 words before and after each occurrence. They also ran a significance analysis — known as "log-likelihood keyness" — that compares the frequency with which certain words show up in close-proximity to a sex-related word to the frequency with which those same words appear in the collection in general for each year. ..Continued..Chart in Original.. by NPR Linton Weeks

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June 27, 2015

California Supreme Court reversal forces counties to examine sex offender registration

6-27-15 California:

After a conviction for oral sex with a 17-year-old foster child under his care, Mike Grandinetti served as an assistant to the Miss Rio Linda Pageant, where he was photographed with teenage girls.

If pageant officials and parents had checked the state’s sex offender registry, Grandinetti’s name would not have appeared. A judge granted Grandinetti a reprieve from registration under a 2006 state Supreme Court decision that allowed judges to exempt offenders who committed certain child sex crimes.

In April, the state’s highest court reversed itself, requiring registration for those offenses, including some cases that had already been adjudicated, including Grandinetti’s. Local law enforcement officials are now discussing whether to require hundreds of past offenders granted a judicial reprieve to register under the new ruling. While registration increases community awareness, it also can limit where offenders live and their ability to find employment.

The state Department of Justice this month sent a letter to law enforcement agencies advising them to consult with district attorneys before making past offenders register if they had been given a judicial exemption. The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office plans to examine this week how to handle the cases, said Rob Gold, assistant chief deputy district attorney.

While the state Legislature has required registration for most sex crimes, it has given judges the ability to decide in cases where an adult offender had nonforcible sexual intercourse with a minor victim. One reason such discretion exists is to spare a young adult from lifetime registration for having consensual sex with an underage person.

In 2006, the state Supreme Court extended judicial discretion to offenders who engaged in other sexual acts, deciding it was unfair to penalize adults who had oral sex with minors worse than those who had full intercourse.

But the court this year reversed itself on crimes not involving intercourse, saying that judges had too broadly applied the 2006 ruling, People v. Hofsheier, to older defendants who had sexual activity with minors far younger than themselves and other cases that did not involve minors.

The court left intact discretionary registration for nonforcible intercourse with minors, reasoning that intercourse with a minor might result in a child, and forcing the offender to register as a sex offender may damage that parent’s ability to provide financial support.

In 2007, Grandinetti was charged with two crimes – oral copulation and penetration with a foreign object, both with a minor. Grandinetti was 48 and living with his girlfriend, who provided foster care to the 17-year-old girl and two boys of their own. His case illustrates the complexity of the registration considerations that law enforcement officials are considering.

In Grandinetti’s case, the District Attorney’s Office agreed to drop the penetration charge and recommend a sentence that included no prison time, in exchange for a plea of no contest to the other charge. Prosecutors wanted Grandinetti to register as a sex offender to stop him from working with at-risk children, Gold said, noting that they believed Grandinetti had taken advantage of his position as a foster parent.

But Grandinetti’s attorney asked Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gary Ransom to waive registration so he could continue his job working for a since-closed charter school called Juveniles at Risk. Grandinetti says he does not think he should have been required to register for what he considers a one-time mistake. He said he has never had another conviction.

Ransom decided not to require Grandinetti to register as a sex offender. Ransom did not explain his ruling during the hearing, according to a transcript, and recently declined through a spokesman to comment on the case. He sentenced Grandinetti to a year in jail and allowed him to serve the sentence on work release while employed by Juveniles at Risk.

Charlea Moore, an Elverta resident who knows Grandinetti through volunteer activities, said he belongs on the registry. She said she would have asked Grandinetti not to participate in children’s activities at a town fair and a Rio Linda centennial celebration had she known about his background.

Grandinetti said he is now unemployed and believes he is unable to get a job because of his conviction, even without being registered on the Megan’s Law list. He said he stays at home, raising his three boys and participating in volunteer activities, including those involving children. He said he has been careful not to take positions in which he would have authority over children.

He may have a strong legal argument should prosecutors ask him to register on the sex offender list, because exemption from registration was part of his plea agreement.

Grandinetti said Friday that he pleaded guilty to one charge in part because his attorney told him he would not have to register if he accepted the plea deal. The Department of Justice bulletin noted that part of the state Supreme Court decision said defendants who received a plea bargain based on the earlier court ruling may not have to register now.

He said he has not disclosed his background to those activity organizers, including those at the Miss Rio Linda Pageant. In one instance, Grandinetti appeared in a picture with five teenage contestants that was posted on Facebook and published in a community newspaper.

Grandinetti said he was in a difficult position when he was asked to be photographed with the girls. He was in the last year of probation, which included a requirement to “not be in the presence of any minor under the age of 18 without a responsible adult present as approved by the probation officer,” according to his court file.

“I knew I was somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be,” he said. “I didn’t want to say, ‘I’m on probation.’”

Lee Seale, the county’s chief probation officer, reviewed the photo at The Sacramento Bee’s request.

“There is nothing in our records to suggest we were aware of the facts you present below regarding his apparent involvement in a beauty pageant,” Seale said. “Had we been made aware of it, yes, we would have investigated the matter and if it were true that it involved minors, yes, we would have brought a violation of probation. It would have likely resulted in further time in custody.” ..Source.. by Brad Branan

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June 26, 2015

Supreme Court Upholds Tool for Fighting Housing Bias

6-26-15 Washington DC:

Outcome means fair-housing lawsuits can proceed without proof of intentional discrimination

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court Thursday ruled housing-discrimination lawsuits can proceed without proof of intentional bias against minorities, leaving in place a legal tool critics contend makes it too easy to get a claim into court.

The decision, by a 5-4 vote, endorsed a civil-rights litigation approach few had expected to survive the justices’ scrutiny. Texas, whose housing department was fighting a fair-housing claim, maintained that the Fair Housing Act of 1968 required that plaintiffs show intentional discrimination, which demands a higher level of proof.

The case originated in Dallas, where an advocacy group called the Inclusive Communities Project claimed the Texas housing agency discriminated by distributing federal tax-credit subsidies almost entirely to buildings going up in poor, black neighborhoods, thereby solidifying residential segregation.

The court’s opinion, by Justice Anthony Kennedy, noted America’s history of racial segregation and the efforts Congress has made to remedy its continuing effects, including the statute disputed in Thursday’s case.

“The court acknowledges the Fair Housing Act’s continuing role in moving the nation toward a more integrated society,” Justice Kennedy wrote, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

The Obama administration cheered the outcome, with U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch vowing to use the power aggressively. “The Department of Justice will continue to vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act with every tool at its disposal,” she said. ..Continued.. by Jess Bravin and Robbie Whelan

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June 25, 2015

Sex Offenders Converge In Dallas

This is the RSOL 2015 National Conference
6-25-15 Texas:

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Approximately 100 registered sex offenders from across the country gathered for a conference at the Magnolia Hotel in Dallas.

It’s an annual conference but the first time it’s been open to media. In fact, organizers warned attendees our news camera might be there. They say they want people to know they’re advocating for change.

17 years after his arrest for trying to meet up with a fictitious 14 year old, a registered sex offender from Florida says he can’t shake his past.

“I’ve been interviewed for many, many, many jobs for my professional skills and when you disclose that part, you just never get a phone call again,” he said.


A website for the event even provides contact information for the Dallas Police Department so those who need to check in can meet their registration requirements. Advocates argue residency restrictions and other mandates on sex offenders are not effective.

“The majority of children who are abused are abused in their homes, or abused by someone known to their family. they’re not abused in playgrounds, parks, and school bus stops,” says advocate, Gail Colleta. ..Source..with.Video by Andrea Lucia

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Yahoo's trying to trick you into switching search engines

6-25-15 Global:

Thinking about how much you'd like to try Yahoo's search engine instead of Google or even Bing? Us neither, but you may end up with it anyway if you're not careful during your next Java update. CEO Marissa Meyer told shareholders yesterday that Yahoo has teamed with Oracle on a new partnership aimed at getting users to take its search for a spin. If you're guessing that means it's "tricking careless users into changing default search engines via a pre-ticked installation box," then ding! That's Oracle's go-to method for installing notorious crapware like the Ask.com toolbar in exchange for, we imagine, considerable sums of money.

Yahoo said that "we have definitely made sure that our onboarding process is one that is highly transparent and gives users choice," according to the WSJ. Translated, that means "we're technically asking permission," but forcing users to opt out is still a highly dubious practice. Of course, Google's not exactly innocent either, since Adobe's last Flash install forced many users to opt out if they didn't want the Chrome browser. Yahoo's mired in third place in search with just 12.7 percent of the search market, well behind Bing.

While Java would just change your default search provider and not install an app, it's still a hassle to reset if you didn't want it. Since it's hard to avoid Java (almost 90 percent of US computers have it), pay close attention the next time you update, and un-tick the box if you don't want Yahoo search. If you're willing to try it, why not just go to Yahoo's home page? Or, you could just hit Bing, since a large percentage of Yahoo's search results actually come from Microsoft's engine. ..Source.. by Steve Dent

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