On March 6, 2012, a group of individuals convicted of sexual offenses filed this suit against Governor Snyder of Michigan and Colonel Kriste Etue, Director of the Michigan State Police, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The plaintiffs alleged that they have been ...
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On March 6, 2012, a group of individuals convicted of sexual offenses filed this suit against Governor Snyder of Michigan and Colonel Kriste Etue, Director of the Michigan State Police, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The plaintiffs alleged that they have been unconstitutionally subjected to Michigan's Sex Offender Registration Act, passed in 2011 and which was retroactively applied to them. They alleged that SORA violates the prohibition on ex post facto laws, proscribes their fundamental rights to work and travel without being narrowly tailored to a compelling state interest, violates the Due Process Clause, and are void for vagueness. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief barring SORA's retroactive application to them.
In April 2012 and June 2012 respectively, Col. Etue and Governor Snyder filed their motions to dismiss. Judge Cleland ruled on those motions on March 18, 2013, granting in part and denying in part the motions to dismiss. He held that SORA was a civil statute and thus did not violate the constitutional prohibitions on ex post facto laws but that the plaintiffs did plead a plausible substantive due process claim because SORA infringed upon fundamental rights by restricting plaintiffs' ability to raise their children. The means chosen by the state did not narrowly serve the interest of protecting children. The court was also unable to definitively conclude that retroactively extending the registration period for SORA from 25 years to life was justified by a legitimate legislative purpose.
Discovery continued for the next year. On February 20, 2014, the plaintiffs filed for summary judgment. The Court issued an order on May 1, 2014 denying summary judgment and issued orders for new motions for judgment given the extensive factual record. The plaintiffs filed that motion on June 27, 2014 and defendants replied on August 6, 2014. On March 31, 2015, Judge Cleland granted in part and denied in part the motions, finding that the geographic exclusion zones were unconstitutional and that the vehicle, email, and phone registration requirements were unconstitutional.
On June 5, 2015, the defendants appealed. On September 3, 2015, Judge Cleland ruled on the remaining issues and found that SORA was unconstitutional as applied to Plaintiff #4 and that the lifetime registration requirement's retroactive incorporation of the internet reporting requirement was unconstitutional. On October 26, 2015, the plaintiffs appealed and defendants appealed on November 20, 2015. On August 25, Circuit Judge Batchelder from the Sixth Circuit ruled on the appeals, holding that it imposed punishment and thus retroactive application of the SORA amendments was unconstitutional. The case was remanded to the district court to enter judgment consistent with the Sixth Circuit's opinion. As of October 27, 2016, the district court has not done so.Craig Streit - 10/21/2016