June, 2018

New Jersey: Permanent Lifetime Sex
Registry and Notification Requirements as
Applied to Juveniles Violate Due Process

Defendant was adjudicated delinquent for sex offenses committed more than two decades ago and challenged the constitutionality of New Jersey’s permanent lifetime registration and notification requirements as applied to juveniles. Juveniles adjudicated delinquent of certain sex offenses are barred for life from seeking relief from the registration and community notification provisions of Megan’s Law, and the bar cannot be lifted, even when the juvenile becomes an adult and poses no public safety risk, is fully rehabilitated, and is a fully productive member of society. The New Jersey Supreme Court held that the lifetime bar violates due process, finding that continued constraints on lives and liberty of individuals long after they had become adults took on a punitive aspect that could not be justified and bears no rational relationship to a legitimate governmental objective. In re State ex rel. C.K., 2018 BL 143594, N.J., No. 077672, 04-24-18.

Pennsylvania: Defendants’ Fourth
Amendment Rights Were Violated by
Officers’ Warrantless Entry Into
Their Home in Search of
Target of Arrest Warrant

Defendants, husband and wife, were charged with drug offenses and filed motions to suppress evidence found in their home during execution of an arrest warrant for the husband’s half-brother. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania sought to resolve tension between two U.S. Supreme Court cases, Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573 (1980), and Steagald v. U.S., 451 U.S. 204 (1981), and held that law enforcement entry into a home to execute an arrest warrant must be authorized by a magisterial determination of probable cause to search that home for the arrestee. Defendants’ Fourth Amendment rights were violated by the officers’ warrantless entry into their home in search of the target of the arrest warrant. Remand was appropriate to provide an opportunity to consider whether the arrest warrant provided a basis for the officers’ search. Commonwealth v. Romero, 2018 BL 147276, Pa., No. 38 EAP 2016, 04-26-18.

2d Cir: Defendant is Entitled to Suppression of Guns Found During Warrantless Search of Area of Driveway Used to Barbeque

Defendant was convicted of gun charges after police, without a warrant or probable cause, searched a portion of his property and discovered two guns inside a bag in an area of defendant’s driveway where he barbecued. The court held that the area was part of the curtilage and probable cause or a warrant was required where the area was in front of a shed that was just a few steps from the back door of defendant’s residence, three sides of the area were enclosed by fencing, the area was used for recreation and other intimate activities, it was not visible from the street and adjoined backyard, it sat more than 80 feet from the sidewalk, and visitors did not ever need to access it. United States v. Alexander, 2018 BL 153216, 2d Cir., No. 16-3708-cr, 05-01-18.

2d Cir: Lifetime Supervised Release Penalty
Found Too Harsh for First Revocation

Defendant failed to comply with the terms of his supervised release by repeatedly testing positive for drugs or failing to report for drug testing. He pled guilty and was sentenced to one year in prison followed by a life term of supervised release. The Second Circuit held that imposition of a life term of supervised release upon defendant’s first revocation was not reasonable where defendant’s violations centered on a non-violent drug habit and his conduct was not distinguishable from that of many other recidivist defendants struggling with drug addiction. In order for a district court to impose a life term of supervised release in this context, there has to be a significant justification to support the severity of that sentence or conduct that distinguishes the defendant from similar recidivists. United States v. Brooks, 2018 BL 155137, 2d Cir., 16-4063-cr, 05-02-18.

Iowa: Defendant Entitled to Discovery of
Reports of Post-Conviction Investigation of
Complainant That Would Undermine
Her Credibility

Defendant was convicted of criminal sexual conduct and sought postconviction relief arguing that he should have been told about a police investigation that occurred soon after his conviction that suggested that the complainant may have falsely accused gang members of similar crimes. The Iowa Supreme Court reversed the ruling denying discovery of the reports holding that they fell within the scope of permissible discovery where information regarding the victim’s credibility was vital to defendant’s defense and the State had no physical evidence or witnesses to the alleged sexual abuse. The false accusation of abuse by gang members would further undermine the complainant’s credibility, investigative reports could potentially contain false claims relevant to defendant’s defense, and defendant advanced a good-faith factual basis demonstrating how the information was reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence. Powers v. State, 2018 BL 168853, Iowa, 16-1650, 05-11-18.

8th Circuit: Prison Officials Can be Held
Personally Liable for Being Deliberately
Indifferent to Inmate’s
Serious Dental Condition

Defendant’s mouth was filled with sores and puss and his face was disfigured, but when he pled with prison officials to see a dentist, they either laughed or said he had to wait. When defendant finally saw a dentist 3 months later, he lost 9 teeth. The 8th Circuit held that corrections officials could be held personally liable for being deliberately indifferent to a prisoner’s serious dental condition in his § 1983 action asserting an Eighth Amendment violation, notwithstanding the state department of correction’s contract with a private company to provide dental care to prisoners at the facility. The officials were constitutionally obligated to see that inmates in their custody who needed dental care received it. Williams v. York, 2018 BL 192213, 8th Cir., 17-1019, 05-31-18.