Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought the judge had the final say so, and if the lawyer or DA's did not like the ruling, they could appeal.
By Keith Rhoades
The Indiana Department of Corrections says it cannot comply with an order by Morgan County Superior Court I Judge G. Thomas Gray to remove a convicted child molester from the state’s sex offender registry because such an action would be against the law.
In a letter filed by the DOC, staff counsel Michael J. Barns writes that the judge’s order issued in March to remove a person known only as “John Doe” from the registry should be reviewed.
The Morgan County resident, who was convicted in 1995 of sexual battery in Hamilton County, was allowed to use the name “John Doe” in court proceedings to protect his identity.
In earlier court actions, “Doe’s” name was made known, but the Reporter-Times is following the judge’s ruling to keep his name sealed.
The DOC stated that because “Doe’s” victim was under the age of 12 and he was at least 18 years of age when the crime occurred, state law requires he be kept on the registry for life. Removing “Doe” from the registry, the DOC argues, would violate I. C. 11-8-8-18(a).
In March, attorney Steven Litz, was successful in his argument that his client should be removed from the list under I. C. 11-8-8-19(a).
Litz said the trial judge in Hamilton County “got it wrong” when he determined the registration time began after “Doe’s” probation period ended. Litz said that while “Doe’s” crime had occurred in Hamilton County, he now lived in Morgan County so that was where the suit was filed.
Morgan County Deputy Prosecutor Harold Blake said “Doe” had requested the Hamilton County judge release him from the registry but the judge refused. Blake said “Doe” and his attorney were “court shopping” to find a judge who would grant his request and he asked the judge to dismiss “Doe’s” request.
Gray said while he did not like to overturn other judge’s decisions, he has a obligation to follow the law and in his opinion, Litz was correct. The judge ordered “Doe’s” real name to be removed from the register.
The order was sent to the sheriff’s department who sent it to the DOC which maintains the list. “Doe’s” name was not removed and earlier this month, Litz notified the court Doe’s name was still on the list. Litz said his client had been notified by the county that he had to register as a sex offender or he could be charged with a D felony.
Judge Gray set a hearing on 9:15 a.m. Feb. 2. He directed the DOC to explain why it cannot comply with his order.