States brief ~ CA high court rules "forgetting" to register as sex offender no excuse

States brief ~ CA high court rules "forgetting" to register as sex offender no excuse

[JURIST] Leading Thursday's states brief, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday in a 4-3 decision that forgetting to register for Megan's Law [ CA Attorney General website] because of stress is an insufficient excuse. The Supreme Court overturned the decision of the Court of Appeals, ruling that forgetting is only a valid excuse when the sex offender suffers from an "involuntary condition" such as amnesia or Alzheimer's disease. In the opinion [PDF text], Justice Janice Rogers Brown, recently elevated to the federal appeals bench, wrote, "It is simply not enough for a defendant to assert a selective impairment that conveniently affects his memory as to registering, but otherwise leaves him largely functional." Joseph Sorden showed up to register two weeks late, saying he had forgotten to register earlier because he was suffering from depression. AP has more.

In other state legal news …

  • The Supreme Court of New Jersey ruled Thursday in a unanimous decision, that for someone to be convicted of refusing to take a breathalyzer test [NJ Attorney General guidelines, PDF] the prosecution must prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The standard of proof had previously been by a preponderance of the evidence. In its decision [PDF] the court said that a change in the standard was needed because the penalties for an accused drunk driver refusing to take a breathalyzer test have substantially increased. A first-time offense carries with it a seven month to one year driver license suspension. The higher standard of proof will apply to future and present cases, including those presently on appeal. AP has more.
  • Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller [official website] has said that the state will use the $1.7 million it received in the Microsoft settlement to buy state patrol vehicles, upgrade its DNA lab and improve the state's sex-offender registry website. In a press release [text], Miller said "The Legislature and the Governor get credit for using this money to help meet important law enforcement needs in the state." Under a 2002 settlement agreement of an antitrust case by Miller and other attorney general's, Microsoft agreed to pay the states $28.6 million dollars. Iowa received approximately $2 million. Iowa's Quad-City Times has local coverage.