Saturday, December 18, 2010

GA - Sheriff proposes sex offender fee

Original Article

They had an annual registration fee of $250.00 in HB-1059 and HB-571, but it was removed due to being unconstitutional, now they are trying it again, and I'm sure it will be found unconstitutional again.  If the state and/or politicians who make and approve these unconstitutional laws, want to force an extortion fee as well, then the state should pay the fee, IMO.

12/16/2010

By Michael Davis

Butts County Sheriff Gene Pope wants to levy a $150-per-year fee against registered sex offenders in the county, to pay for the costs incurred to keep track of them.

State law requires Georgia sheriffs to maintain lists of sex offenders in their counties and make those lists public, Pope said Monday, but the state does not cover the costs of maintaining those lists and checking in on offenders.

Pope and other officials from the sheriff’s office asked Butts County commissioners, during a meeting on Monday, to consider establishing a $150 annual fee charged to each sex offender to recoup the cost of maintaining the local registry.

For the citizens of the county, it’s not fair that they have to pay this out of their pocket, because they’re not the ones that committed the crimes,” said Butts County Sheriff’s Lt. Tim Filbeck. “Instead of the community paying it, we’d like for all the sex offenders to pay for it.”
- So, then why don't you make all criminals pay for their own food and rent while in jail and/or prison?  It's extortion, IMO.

Filbeck cited the case of one offender, who has been deemed a sexual predator, who must be monitored by an ankle bracelet. Filbeck said the offender is unable to pay the cost of monitoring, so the estimated $1,600 per year for the monitor will have to be covered by the sheriff’s office.
- Well ain't that too bad?  You folks and the states are the ones making and passing unconstitutional laws, so you should pay the price for those unconstitutional laws, IMO.

Filbeck told county commissioners there are 46 sex offenders on the Butts County registry and that the $150 fee would generate $6,900 to be used to defer the cost of maintaining the registry, which includes the web site, fingerprint cards, photos and other materials.
- So how will that exactly pay for everything?  You said above, one person costs $1,600 per year, so in order to pay for everything, you would have to receive $73,600 per year for 46 offenders.  I don't think this will pay for much of anything, except maybe more donuts for you guys!

Members of the Board of Commissioners took no action on the proposal Monday, but if approved, it could be the first fee of its kind in the state. Michael A. O’Quinn, the county’s attorney, said he was not aware of another county in the state that charges such a fee, but also knew no reason the county could not.

If it’s challenged I can’t guarantee that it would hold up, but unless and until it’s challenged, I see no reason not to try,” O’Quinn said. “This has been an ongoing problem. They’ve [sheriff’s officials] talked to me about it before and it does take a lot of work on their part.”
- So, you are okay with wasting tons of tax payer dollars for making and passing an unconstitutional law, which will be fought in court?

The state already levies a $250 fee against sex offenders on the registry, but Filbeck said the money does not come back to the county where the offender registered, and that the sheriff’s office doesn’t collect it because there’s no penalty for not paying.
- If they are, then something is not right, because the $250.00 fee was removed from HB-1059 and HB-571.  So I don't think this is correct.  You can review the bill (linked above) for yourself.

Pope added that there’s also no penalty assessed against local sheriffs for not collecting the $250. With a county ordinance in place, officials could enact penalties for not paying the $150 fee, Pope said.


PA - Former police sergeant (Michael Marren) found guilty

Original Article

12/17/2010

By Laurie Mason

Michael Marren, a former Bensalem police sergeant who spent much of his career arresting sex offenders, joined their ranks today after a jury convicted him of sexually assaulting a 23-year-old woman.

Marren, who oversaw the force’s Special Victims Unit, will now be a registered sex offender under Megan’s Law for the rest of his life and could serve more than 10 years in prison, although his attorney said he will argue for less.

Hopefully the court will realize that this was an aberration,” said defense lawyer Jack McMahon. “We’re hoping that his background, his character and his service to his country will be taken into consideration.”

Marren, a married father of four, wept silently and turned around to look at his wife and supporters after the verdict was read. There was no other reaction in the courtroom.

Marren was found guilty of aggravated indecent assault—a felony—and indecent assault. The jury of nine men and three women found him not-guilty of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and sexual assault.

The verdict capped a weeklong trial in Bucks County Court in Doylestown. The victim, a volunteer emergency medical technician who worked alongside Marren at his part-time job at the Bensalem Rescue Squad, told the jury that Marren attacked her in a bathroom at the squad’s headquarters.

The incident occurred in the early morning hours of March 9, after Marren and the woman had been out drinking with several other squad members who were mourning the death of a paramedic.

The woman told the jury that she had asked Marren for a ride back to the squad, where she planned to stay the night, and that he forced himself on her when she went in to use the bathroom.

She testified that Marren groped her and put his mouth on her body, then forced her to her knees and made her perform a sex act.

She said she tried text- messaging friends for help during the assault, but did not call 911 because she feared other police officers might sexually assault her too.

Jurors saw photos and heard testimony about the woman’s injuries. Marren’s DNA and saliva were found on her breast.

Coworkers found the woman hiding in a mechanic’s closet after the assault. They called police.

On the witness stand Thursday, Marren denied assaulting the woman. He told the jury that she drunkenly tried to kiss him, then reached into his pants. He said he rebuffed her advances, and said she was behaving erratically.

He said he was driving home after dropping the woman off when he began getting cell phone calls about the allegations.

I’m seeing my whole life unravel before me,” he told the jury.

In a 2-hour closing statement to the jury this morning, McMahon, accused the woman of creating "fake ass drama" and crying rape to get attention. He questioned the validity of DNA evidence and said prosecutors had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Marren assaulted the woman.

McMahon said the woman should not be believed, calling her testimony that she texted friends in the midst of the attack "absurd," and described her account of the incident as " a scatter-shot, erratic, schizophrenic rant."

First Assistant District Attorney Michelle Henry said she'd never witnessed such a "trashing" of a sex assault victim in court. She argued that Marren, with his knowledge of sex crimes, crafted an account of the evening to fit the evidence he thought police had.

She noted that Marren had no explanation for his DNA being found on the woman, a piece of evidence that he didn't know about when he gave his statement to county detectives.

"It was damage control," Henry told the jury.

The jurors deliberated for more than two hours before reaching the verdict.

Henry said the victim was pleased with the verdict.

The defendant and his attorney attempted to put her on trial. The verdict clearly shows that the jury rejected that,” Henry said. “This has been a long, hard process for her. She feels that justice was served.”

Marren was fired shortly after the incident, following an internal investigation. He had worked for Bensalem since 2001 and had headed the Special Victim’s Unit for three years. Prior to that he was a Philadelphia firefighter and a Bucks County corrections officer.

Marren will be sentenced in about 90 days, following a Megan’s Law evaluation.


CA - Sex offender residency limits not for juveniles

Original Article

12/18/2010

By Bob Egelko

California's lifetime residency restrictions for sex offenders, which prohibit them from living within 2,000 feet of a park or school, can't be imposed on juvenile defendants without a jury trial, a state appeals court has ruled (Ruling PDF).

Juvenile court trials are conducted by a judge. But the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana said the voter-approved residency limits - "banishment under a different name" - amount to lifelong criminal punishment that must be left up to a jury to consider.

The court noted that most residential neighborhoods in regions like the Bay Area are near parks or schools, so convicted sex offenders must often choose between relocating to a distant area or going homeless.

That choice is especially vexing for the parents of juvenile sex offenders who live at home, the court said. Such parents must decide between moving to a new residence and expelling their child.

Unlike similar laws in other states, the California law gives offenders "no means to demonstrate rehabilitation," which is supposed to be the focus of juvenile courts, the justices said in Thursday's 3-0 ruling. "The restrictions apply for life regardless of reform."

It was the first time a California court has ordered a jury trial in a juvenile proceeding, Deputy Attorney General Steve Oetting, the state's lawyer, said Friday.

He said the state has not decided whether to appeal. But he said his office has asked the state Supreme Court to review a decision by the same appellate court earlier this year that laid the groundwork for Thursday's ruling.

The state's high court has upheld the residency restrictions for adults who were in prison when voters approved the measure, Proposition 83 (PDF), in 2006.

The case, from Orange County, involved a 17-year-old identified as J.L., convicted in 2007 of molesting three young cousins.

The judge confined him to the state's juvenile system and ordered him to comply with the rules for sex offenders after his release: reporting his residence to police each year for life, and living more than 2,000 feet from parks and schools.

J.L.'s appeal challenged both requirements, citing the constitutional right to a jury trial for criminal punishment.

The appeals court upheld his police reporting obligation, saying the state Supreme Court had found that it promoted public safety, not punishment.

But the justices said the residency restrictions, though ostensibly safety measures, were actually punitive. The court said the rules apply to all sex offenders, regardless of their victims' age, and force them to move to distant areas without restricting their access to parks or children.

Oetting disagreed Friday, noting that a juvenile judge can sentence a youth to a prison-like setting without a jury trial.

But Paul Ward, J.L.'s lawyer, said all juvenile court proceedings are based on "the assumption that juveniles will be rehabilitated."