Civil Rights: Sex Offender Registration is Constitutional

Plaintiff, a convicted sex offender, filed suit challenging the constitutionality of the 1994 Michigan Sex Offender Registration Act, MCLA§ 28.721, et. seq. which requires convicted sex offenders to register with the local law enforcement agency where they reside. The Court upheld the constitutionality of the Act and dismissed the action. The Court rejected Plaintiff's double jeopardy claim because the registration requirement was not "overwhelmingly punitive." Rather, the Court found that "the implied purpose is plainly regulatory." Nor does the Act involve "an affirmative disability or restraint." In addition, the Court rejected contentions that the Act violated the ex post facto clause or constituted a bill of attainder or cruel and unusual punishment. The Court reasoned that the purpose of the Act was to protect the public, not to punish sex offenders, and that any punitive effects were clearly outweighed by the remedial purpose. The Court also rejected arguments based on equal protection because the legislature acted rationally in addressing the magnitude of harm that could result if sex offenders were not required to register. The Court found no violation of due process because any injury Plaintiff may suffer to reputation or loss of employment is purely speculative and any detrimental effects that may flow from the Act are a result of Plaintiff's own prior misconduct and not from state action.

James Lanni v. John Engler, et al., Civ. No. 97-CV-71738-DT, E.D. Mich., 2/13/98, Zatkoff, J.

This article was prepared by Mark A. Goldsmith, a partner in our Litigation Department, was appeared in the July, 1998 edition of the Michigan Bar Journal.