John Doe v. Isom, No. ED 99707.

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtROY L. RICHTER
Citation429 S.W.3d 436
Decision Date27 May 2014
Docket NumberNo. ED 99707.
PartiesJohn DOE, Respondent, v. Col. Daniel ISOM, et al., Appellants.

429 S.W.3d 436

John DOE, Respondent,
v.
Col. Daniel ISOM, et al., Appellants.

No. ED 99707.

Missouri Court of Appeals,
Eastern District,
Division One.

Feb. 18, 2014.
Application for Transfer to Supreme Court Denied March 31, 2014.

Application for Transfer Denied May 27, 2014.


[429 S.W.3d 437]


Jeremiah J. Morgan, Jefferson City, MO, Mary D. Delworth, St. Louis, MO, for Appellant.

Matthew Radefeld, St. Louis, MO, for Respondent.


ROY L. RICHTER, Presiding Judge.

Col. Daniel Isom, Chief of Police for the Metropolitan Police Department, City of St. Louis, the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol (collectively, “Appellants”), appeal from a declaratory judgment in favor of John Doe (“Doe”), a Missouri resident, on Doe's petition seeking removal of Doe's name and identifying information from the federal and Missouri's sex offender registries. We reverse and remand.

I. BACKGROUND

The facts of this case are not in dispute. In May 2008, Doe hacked into the email account of A.R., the 15 year-old-daughter of Doe's ex-girlfriend. Doe discovered a prior email A.R. had sent to her friend, which contained a picture of A.R. touching her genitals.1 Doe then proceeded to email that photograph to 14 individuals listed in A.R.'s email contact list,2 as well as blind carbon copying A.R.'s high school principal.

Subsequently, the St. Charles County Prosecutor's office filed a Substitute Information in Lieu of Indictment charging Doe with the following six counts: (1) one count of endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree, in violation of Section 568.045; 3 (2) two counts of promoting child pornography to a minor in the second degree, in violation Section 573.035; (3) two counts of promoting child pornography in the second degree, in violation of Section 573.035; and (4) one count of tampering

[429 S.W.3d 438]

with computer users, in violation of Section 569.099. On March 24, 2009, Doe pled guilty in the Circuit Court of St. Charles County, to the class C felony of endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree, in violation of Section 568.045, and the class A misdemeanor of tampering with computer users, in violation of Section 569.099. Doe received, inter alia, a suspended execution of sentence and was placed on probation for a term of five years.4

Approximately six months after Doe pled guilty, Doe's Probation Officer directed Doe to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Sex Offender Registration Office to determine whether Doe was required to register as a sex offender. After a determination that he must register, Doe filed his initial registration with Missouri's Sex Offender Registry on September 11, 2009.

Soon thereafter, Doe filed motions for his removal from the sex offender registries in the Circuit Court of St. Charles County. However, these motions were denied by the trial court in St. Charles County premised upon the reasoning that Doe's removal from the sex offender registry had to be filed in the jurisdiction where Doe resided—the City of St. Louis.

On February 6, 2012 (almost 3 years after his initial guilty plea) Doe filed a Petition for Declaratory Judgment for Removal from the Sex Offender Registry and Destruction of Records in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis. Doe sought a declaratory judgment that he not be required to register as a sex offender under the federal or state sex offender registries. Almost a year later, on January 30, 2013, the trial court entered an Order and Judgment granting Doe's Petition, finding Doe was not obligated to register under either federal or state law, and that his registration be removed from all sex offender registries.

This appeal now follows.

II. DISCUSSION

In 2006, the United States Congress passed, and the President signed, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (“AWA”). SeePub.L. No. 109–248 (2006). For the purpose of “protect[ing] the public from sex offenders and offenders against children,” Title I of AWA established and created the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”), 42 U.S.C. § 16901 et seq., a “comprehensive national system for the registration of those offenders.” 42 U.S.C. § 16901. SORNA “requires those convicted of certain sex crimes to provide state governments with (and to update) information, such as names and current addresses, for inclusion on state and federal sex offender registries.” Reynolds v. U.S., ––– U.S. ––––, 132 S.Ct. 975, 978, 181 L.Ed.2d 935 (2012).

In order to accomplish this purpose, SORNA requires states to “maintain a jurisdiction-wide sex offender registry” that complies with the standards set forth by SORNA. 42 U.S.C. § 16912(a); see also U.S. v. Felts, 674 F.3d 599, 602 (6th Cir.2012) (“Rather than establishing a federal agency to implement SORNA, Congress, through its spending power, U.S. Const. Art. I, § 8, directed all states and the District of Columbia to create local registries that comply with specific national standards.”). In Missouri, the corresponding registry to that of SORNA's federal registry has been in force since 1995. R.W. v. Sanders, 168 S.W.3d 65, 67 (Mo. banc 2005). However, since 1995 there

[429 S.W.3d 439]

have been substantial amendments to what is known as Missouri's Sex Offender Registration Act (“SORA”), Sections 589.400–589.425. Roe v. Replogle, 408 S.W.3d 759, 762 (Mo. banc 2013).

Appellants raise two points on appeal. In their first point, Appellants allege the trial court erred in finding Doe did not have an obligation to register as a sex offender under SORNA, and therefore Doe has no requirement to register under Missouri's SORA. Specifically, Appellants claim that Doe is a “sex offender” for purposes of SORNA, and is therefore obligated to register under both SORNA and SORA.

Next, Appellants argue that even if Doe is not deemed a “sex offender” for purposes of SORNA, the trial court erred in finding Doe did not have an obligation to register under SORA, because the offense to which Doe pled guilty was “sexual in nature.” Thus, Appellants contend that Doe has an obligation to register under SORA, regardless of his registration obligations under SORNA.

Finding Point I dispositive, we do not reach or address Appellant's Point II.

Standard of Review

The judgment of the trial court will be upheld on appeal, unless it is not supported by substantial evidence, is against the weight of the evidence, or erroneously declares or applies the law. Murphy v. Carron, 536 S.W.2d 30, 32 (Mo. banc 1976); see also Solomon v. St. Charles Cnty. Prosecuting Attorney's Office, 409 S.W.3d 487, 489 (Mo.App.E.D.2013). However, this case presents issues of statutory construction, a question of law, which this Court reviews de novo, giving no deference to the trial court's conclusions. Solomon, 409 S.W.3d at 489.

Analysis

The dispositive question before this Court is whether Doe's guilty plea to endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree, under Section 568.045, makes him a “sex offender,” subject to SORNA's and SORA's registration requirements.

SORNA defines a “sex offender” as an “individual who was convicted of a sex offense.” 42 U.S.C. § 16911(1). Whether an individual has a “sex offense” conviction determines whether that individual falls within the minimum categories requiring registration under SORNA. See Office of the Attorney General; The National Guidelines for Sex Offender Registration and Notification, 73 Fed.Reg. 38030–01, 38050 (July 2, 2008) (“ SORNA's Guidelines ”). Apart from exceptions not applicable here, “sex offense,” in turn, is either:

(i) a criminal offense that has an element involving a sexual act or sexual contact with another;

(ii) a criminal offense that is a specified offense against a minor;

(iii) a Federal offense (including an offense prosecuted under section 1152 or 1153 of Title 18) under section 1591, or chapter 109A, 110 (other than section 2257, 2257A, or 2258), or 117, of Title 18;

(iv) a military offense specified by the Secretary of Defense under section 115(a)(8)(C)(i) of Public Law 105–119 (10 U.S.C. 951 note); or

(v) an attempt or conspiracy to commit an offense described in clauses (i) through (iv).

Id. at § 16911(5)(A). Under the facts of this case, only subparagraph (ii) of 42 U.S.C. § 16911(5)(A) could provide a basis to require Doe to register as a sex offender under SORNA (i.e., was Doe's guilty plea in the nature of “a criminal offense that is specified against a minor?”). Id. at § 16911(5)(A)(ii). Whether Doe qualifies

[429 S.W.3d 440]

as a “sex offender” under 42 U.S.C. § 16911(5)(A)(ii) is purely an issue of law, and the only facts relevant to this inquiry are the undisputed facts admitted by Doe at his guilty plea. Our analysis proceeds in two parts, and is guided by the applicable provision at 42 U.S.C. § 16911(5)(A)(ii): (1) we will consider whether a violation of Section 568.045 is a “criminal offense” as defined by SORNA; and (2) we will decide whether Doe's particular conviction for endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree was “a specified offense against a minor.”


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5 practice notes
  • In re A.C.C., No. ED 106153
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 2 octobre 2018
    ...conduct" instead of "adjudicated."We are familiar with our previous decision in Doe v. Isom, and find the present case distinguishable. 429 S.W.3d 436 (Mo.App.E.D. 2014). In Doe, while we adopted a non-categorical approach to determine whether an adult defendant was required to register as ......
  • James v. Mo. State Highway Patrol, No. ED 104199
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 29 novembre 2016
    ...not supported by substantial evidence, is against the weight of the evidence, or erroneously declares or applies the law." Doe v. Isom, 429 S.W.3d 436, 439 (Mo. App. E.D. 2014) ; Murphy v. Carron, 536 S.W.2d 30, 32 (Mo. banc 1976). Moreover, if an issue has already been decided, the questio......
  • Doe v. Belmar, No. ED 106264
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 26 décembre 2018
    ...clear precedent established by this Court and the Western District requiring the use of the non-categorical approach. See Doe v. Isom , 429 S.W.3d 436 (Mo. App. E.D. 2014) ; Wilkerson v. State , 533 S.W.3d 755 (Mo. App. W.D. 2017). Finding no error in the trial court’s use of the non-catego......
  • Selig v. Russell, WD 82804
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 21 avril 2020
    ...not supported by substantial evidence, is against the weight of the evidence, or erroneously declares or applies the law." Doe v. Isom , 429 S.W.3d 436, 439 (Mo. App. E.D. 2014) (citing Murphy v. Carron , 536 S.W.2d 30, 32 (Mo. banc 1976) ).DiscussionAs noted above, the State brings one poi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • In re A.C.C., No. ED 106153
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 2 octobre 2018
    ...instead of "adjudicated."We are familiar with our previous decision in Doe v. Isom, and find the present case distinguishable. 429 S.W.3d 436 (Mo.App.E.D. 2014). In Doe, while we adopted a non-categorical approach to determine whether an adult defendant was required to register as......
  • James v. Mo. State Highway Patrol, No. ED 104199
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 29 novembre 2016
    ...supported by substantial evidence, is against the weight of the evidence, or erroneously declares or applies the law." Doe v. Isom, 429 S.W.3d 436, 439 (Mo. App. E.D. 2014) ; Murphy v. Carron, 536 S.W.2d 30, 32 (Mo. banc 1976). Moreover, if an issue has already been decided, the questi......
  • Doe v. Belmar, No. ED 106264
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 26 décembre 2018
    ...clear precedent established by this Court and the Western District requiring the use of the non-categorical approach. See Doe v. Isom , 429 S.W.3d 436 (Mo. App. E.D. 2014) ; Wilkerson v. State , 533 S.W.3d 755 (Mo. App. W.D. 2017). Finding no error in the trial court’s use of the non-catego......
  • Selig v. Russell, WD 82804
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 21 avril 2020
    ...supported by substantial evidence, is against the weight of the evidence, or erroneously declares or applies the law." Doe v. Isom , 429 S.W.3d 436, 439 (Mo. App. E.D. 2014) (citing Murphy v. Carron , 536 S.W.2d 30, 32 (Mo. banc 1976) ).DiscussionAs noted above, the State brings one po......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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