Doe v. Rausch, No. 3:17-CV-504 REEVES/GUYTON

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Eastern District of Tennessee
Writing for the CourtPamela L. Reeves, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Citation461 F.Supp.3d 747
Docket NumberNo. 3:17-CV-504 REEVES/GUYTON
Decision Date14 May 2020
Parties John DOE, Plaintiff, v. David B. RAUSCH, Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in his official capacity, Defendant.

461 F.Supp.3d 747

John DOE, Plaintiff,
v.
David B. RAUSCH, Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in his official capacity, Defendant.

No. 3:17-CV-504 REEVES/GUYTON

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Northern Division, at Knoxville.

Filed May 14, 2020


461 F.Supp.3d 753

William S. Lockett, Jr., Knoxville, TN, for Plaintiff.

Dianna Baker Shew, Stephanie Bergmeyer, Pro Hac Vice, Tennessee Attorney General's Office, Nashville, TN, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Pamela L. Reeves, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

This civil action presents a constitutional challenge to the Tennessee Sexual Offender and Violent Sexual Offender Registration and Tracking Act of 2004 ("SORVTA"), Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 40-39-201–218 (2018). Prior to SORVTA's 2004 enactment, Plaintiff was convicted of seven sexual offenses involving three different minor victims. SORVTA, both as enacted and as amended, retroactively requires that Plaintiff comply with its restrictions and reporting obligations for the remainder of Plaintiff's life. Before the Court are cross motions for summary judgment filed by Plaintiff John Doe [Doc. 36] and Defendant David B. Rausch,1 Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation ("TBI") [Doc.

461 F.Supp.3d 754

38]. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment [Doc. 36] will be granted in part and denied in part, and Defendant's motion for summary judgment [Doc. 38] will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. Background

A. Statutory Background

1. Tennessee's Sexual Offender Registration and Monitoring Act of 1994 ("SORMA")

SORMA was enacted on May 10, 1994. SORMA required the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation ("TBI") to "establish, maintain, and update a centralized record system of sexual offender registration and verification information." 1994 Tenn. Pub. Acts ch. 976, § 7(a). SORMA defined a "sexual offender" to be an individual convicted of one of a number of enumerated offenses under Tennessee criminal law or another state's equivalent statute.

Under SORMA, required registrants were compelled to register within ten days of release without supervision from probation, parole, or incarceration, id. § 4, and TBI was directed to send verification and monitoring forms to the registrant every ninety days. Id. § 5. The registrant then had ten days from receipt to complete and return the form. Id. Registrants were also required to complete a new form within ten days of any change of residence or entry into a municipality or county for temporary residence or domicile. Id. § 4. All registration and reporting under SORMA involved paper submissions and the information was designated as confidential, with the exception of "information deemed necessary to protect the public concerning a specific sexual offender." Id. §§ 4, 7(c). Ten years after release from supervision, a registrant could then petition a court for relief from SORMA's registration requirements. Id. § 8(a). The court would consider several factors, including the age of the offender's victims and the behavior of the offender since his offense, and would grant the petition if it found the registrant had complied with SORMA, was rehabilitated, and did not pose a threat to public safety. Id. § 8(c). TBI would then expunge the registrant's data from its registry. Id. Violations of SORMA were misdemeanor offenses for the purposes of punishment. Id. § 9.

SORMA was frequently amended, expanding SORMA's scope and requirements and contracting registrants' level of confidentiality. See Doe v. Haslam , No. 3:16-CV-02862, 2017 WL 5187117, at *2 (M.D. Tenn. Nov. 9, 2017) (listing amendments to SORMA). Notably, SORMA was amended in 2000 to require lifetime registration for registrants that had been convicted of actual or attempted aggravated rape, rape, aggravated sexual battery, or rape of a child. 2000 Tenn. Pub. Acts ch. 997, §§ 1–2.

2. Tennessee Sexual Offender and Violent Sexual Offender Registration, Verification, and Tracking Act of 2004 ("SORVTA")

On June 8, 2004, SORMA was repealed and SORVTA was enacted. SORVTA replaced the framework for sex offender registration and restrictions in Tennessee. 2004 Tenn. Pub. Acts ch. 921, §§ 1–6. While much of the former system continued, SORVTA created a new classification of registrants and a new series of requirements, depending on a registrant's classification. Initially, "sexual offenders" under SORVTA included individuals convicted of "sexual battery, statutory rape, aggravated prostitution, sexual exploitation of a minor, incest, indecent exposure (upon the third such conviction), ... [or] attempt, solicitation, conspiracy, criminal responsibility, facilitation, or being an accessory after the fact" of any of the aforementioned offenses. Haslam , No. 3:16-CV-02862, 2017 WL 5187117, at *2 (citing id. § 1(16)).

461 F.Supp.3d 755

However, building on SORMA's 2000 amendment, the "violent sexual offenders" classification grew to include individuals convicted of "rape, aggravated rape, rape of a child, aggravated sexual battery, aggravated or especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, aggravated or especially aggravated kidnapping of a minor other than the offender's own child, sexual battery by an authority figure, solicitation of a minor, [or] attempt, solicitation, or conspiracy" involving any of these aforementioned offenses. Id. at *2 (citing 2004 Tenn. Pub. Acts ch. 921, § 1(24)).

SORVTA requires "violent sexual offender" registrants to verify their information quarterly, Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-39-204(c), report to designated law enforcement agencies in person, Id. § 40-39-203(a), 204(b), and report certain triggering events, such as changes in employment or residence, within forty-eight hours. Id. § 203(a)(3)–(6). More information must be reported than SORMA required, id. § 203(h), and more administrative fees must be paid while a registrant remains on the registry. Id. § 204(b)(1) and (c). Only select "sexual offenders" may petition TBI, rather than a court, for removal after ten years, with a right of appeal to a chancery court. Id. § 207(b), (g). Violations of SORVTA are felony offenses. Id. § 208(b).

As with SORMA, SORVTA has been repeatedly amended to expand its scope, restrictions, and the public availability of registrant information. See Haslam , No. 3:16-CV-02862, 2017 WL 5187117, at *2 (listing amendments to SORVTA as of 2017); Ward v. State , 315 S.W.3d 461, 475 (Tenn. 2010) (listing amendments to SORVTA as of 2010).

3. 2014 Amendment to SORVTA

In 2014, the General Assembly of Tennessee again amended SORVTA to create a new offender classification—"offender against children." 2014 Tenn. Pub. Acts ch. 770, §§ 1, 2. Registrants whose victims were twelve years or younger at the time of the offense became subject to lifetime registration, regardless of whether the underlying offense was categorized as "violent." Id. ; Tenn. Code. Ann. § 40-39-207(g)(1)(C). Further, registrants could no longer live or work within one thousand feet of schools, day care centers, public parks, playgrounds, recreation centers, or public athletic fields available for use by the general public. 2014 Tenn. Pub. Acts ch. 992, § 1. Further still, local governments were authorized to establish "community notification systems" to notify residents, schools, and childcare facilities when a registrant resides within a certain distance from those locations and charge registrants a yearly fifty-dollar fee to pay for the system, in addition to the registry fee. 2014 Tenn. Pub. Acts ch. 751, § 1.

B. Plaintiff's Background

The parties do not dispute the material facts in this case. In 1999, Plaintiff pled guilty to seven counts of attempted aggravated sexual battery involving three minor victims in Anderson County, Tennessee. [Doc. 41, PageID # 393–403];2 see Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-12-101, 39-13-504. At the same time, a judgment of nolle prosequi was entered regarding other charges brought against Plaintiff for the stated reason that he "entered a guilty plea to other counts of the indictment, and this plea will prevent the young victims from testifying at a jury trial." [Id. ]. Due to his guilty pleas and conviction, Plaintiff served

461 F.Supp.3d 756

five and a half years imprisonment in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Corrections. [Doc. 41, Page ID # 273]. At the time of his conviction, Plaintiff was obligated through SORMA to register as a sex offender within ten days of his release from prison. See 1994 Tenn. Pub. Acts ch. 976, § 4. After a period of ten years of compliance, Plaintiff could then petition a court to be removed from the registry. Id. at § 8(c). However, on June 30, 2000, SORMA was amended to require those that committed a "sexually violent offense" to register "for the life of that person" and included attempted aggravated sexual battery in the enumerated list of sexually violent offenses. 2000 Tenn. Pub. Acts ch. 997, §§ 1–2 (creating former Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 40-39-102(4)(C)&(E), -107(g)(1)(B) (repealed 2004)).

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12 practice notes
  • Doe v. Lee, 3:16-cv-02862
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Tennessee
    • February 8, 2021
    ...post fact grounds in Doe v. Rausch , 382 F. Supp. 3d 783 (E.D. Tenn. 2019) (" Rausch I ") and for the second time in Doe v. Rausch , 461 F. Supp. 3d 747 (E.D. Tenn. 2020) (" Rausch II ").16 In Rausch I , the court considered the constitutionality of the retroactive application of SORA's 201......
  • Doe v. Lee, NO. 3:16-cv-02862
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Tennessee
    • February 8, 2021
    ...on ex post fact grounds in Doe v. Rausch, 382 F. Supp. 3d 783 (E.D. Tenn. 2019) ("Rausch I") and for the second time in Doe v. Rausch, 461 F. Supp. 3d 747 (E.D. Tenn. 2020) ("Rausch II").16Page 22 In Rausch I, the court considered the constitutionality of the retroactive application of SORA......
  • Newsome v. Lee, Civil Action 3:21-cv-00041
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Tennessee
    • February 4, 2022
    ...1204 (M.D. Tenn. 2021) (upon summary judgment motion, the court found the 13 SORA to violate the Ex Post Facto Clause); Doe v. Rausch, 461 F.Supp.3d 747, 769 (E.D. Tenn. 2020) Doe v. Rausch, 382 F.Supp.3d 783, 788 (E.D. Tenn. 2019) (same). Furthermore, several courts have reviewed and denie......
  • Santini v. Rausch, Case No. 3:20-cv-00661
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Tennessee
    • May 21, 2021
    ...3:19-CV-377, 2020 WL 7496528, at *4 (E.D. Tenn. Dec. 21, 2020) (Jordan, J.) Reid, 476 F. Supp. 3d at 708 (Trauger, J.); Doe v. Rausch, 461 F. Supp. 3d 747, 769 (E.D. Tenn. 2020) (Reeves, C.J.); Doe v. Rausch, 382 F. Supp. 3d 783, 799-800 (E.D. Tenn. 2019) (Phillips, J.). This court, as it h......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
12 cases
  • Doe v. Lee, 3:16-cv-02862
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Tennessee
    • February 8, 2021
    ...grounds in Doe v. Rausch , 382 F. Supp. 3d 783 (E.D. Tenn. 2019) (" Rausch I ") and for the second time in Doe v. Rausch , 461 F. Supp. 3d 747 (E.D. Tenn. 2020) (" Rausch II ").16 In Rausch I , the court considered the constitutionality of the retroactive application of ......
  • Doe v. Lee, NO. 3:16-cv-02862
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Tennessee
    • February 8, 2021
    ...fact grounds in Doe v. Rausch, 382 F. Supp. 3d 783 (E.D. Tenn. 2019) ("Rausch I") and for the second time in Doe v. Rausch, 461 F. Supp. 3d 747 (E.D. Tenn. 2020) ("Rausch II").16Page 22 In Rausch I, the court considered the constitutionality of the retroactive applicatio......
  • Newsome v. Lee, Civil Action 3:21-cv-00041
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Tennessee
    • February 4, 2022
    ...1204 (M.D. Tenn. 2021) (upon summary judgment motion, the court found the 13 SORA to violate the Ex Post Facto Clause); Doe v. Rausch, 461 F.Supp.3d 747, 769 (E.D. Tenn. 2020) Doe v. Rausch, 382 F.Supp.3d 783, 788 (E.D. Tenn. 2019) (same). Furthermore, several courts have reviewed and denie......
  • Santini v. Rausch, Case No. 3:20-cv-00661
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Tennessee
    • May 21, 2021
    ...3:19-CV-377, 2020 WL 7496528, at *4 (E.D. Tenn. Dec. 21, 2020) (Jordan, J.) Reid, 476 F. Supp. 3d at 708 (Trauger, J.); Doe v. Rausch, 461 F. Supp. 3d 747, 769 (E.D. Tenn. 2020) (Reeves, C.J.); Doe v. Rausch, 382 F. Supp. 3d 783, 799-800 (E.D. Tenn. 2019) (Phillips, J.). This court, as it h......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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