SCOTUS: Registry Decision Must Come Through Courts

The United States Supreme Court has declined to hear a State court decision that only the courts may place individuals onto a sex offender registry – denying a petition from Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, defending an administrative effort to do so in one case.

In August, Maryland’s Attorney General, Brian Frosh, submitted a petition to the United States Supreme Court seeking a review whether the Court of Appeals of Maryland came their ruling in contradiction of two notable United States Supreme Court cases, along with numerous lower level federal and state court rulings.

The High Court denied this petition on January 11, leaving the state court decision in place and rejecting the petition asking for a Supreme Court review. The final holding is, in essence, that placement upon a sex offender registry is appropriately a judicial punishment, not an administrative procedure, and is held to judicial standards. In this case, the after-the-fact determination that an offense worthy of that determination was insufficient to place the offender onto the registry.

From a write-up on the website SCOTUSblog at the time of the petition filing:

Maryland v. Rogers addresses whether sex offender registration is “punishment” within the meaning of the Sixth and 14th Amendments. Jimmie Rogers pleaded guilty to a Maryland criminal law that provides that a person may not knowingly “take or cause another to be taken to any place for prostitution.” Because the victim’s age was not an element of the offense, the prosecution did not present evidence of her age. However, the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services determined that the victim was a minor. After Rogers’ release from prison, the department classified him as a Tier II sex offender, which requires registration for 25 years for human-trafficking offenses against minors. In contrast, a Tier I sex offender must register for only 15 years and may petition for removal after 10 years. The Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, determined that sex offender registration constitutes punishment for which the state must prove all elements beyond a reasonable doubt. The Maryland attorney general’s petition asks the justices to review that decision, arguing that it conflicts with two Supreme Court decisions and other lower-court and state-court decisions.

Additional Resources:

SCOTUSblog Case Summary and related cases

Attorney General Frosh’s Petition