Steinman v. Blocker, 111519 PACCA, 255 M.D. 2018

Docket Nº:255 M.D. 2018
Opinion Judge:MICHAEL H. WOJCIK, JUDGE.
Party Name:Seth H. Steinman, Petitioner v. Tyree C. Blocker, Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police, of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Respondent
Judge Panel:BEFORE: HONORABLE RENÉE COHN JUBELIRER, Judge HONORABLE ROBERT SIMPSON, Judge HONORABLE MICHAEL H. WOJCIK, Judge. Senior Judge Simpson concurs in result only.
Case Date:November 15, 2019
Court:Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania
 
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Seth H. Steinman, Petitioner

v.

Tyree C. Blocker, Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police, of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Respondent

No. 255 M.D. 2018

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

November 15, 2019

OPINION NOT REPORTED

Submitted: January 11, 2019

BEFORE: HONORABLE RENÉE COHN JUBELIRER, Judge HONORABLE ROBERT SIMPSON, Judge 1 HONORABLE MICHAEL H. WOJCIK, Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

MICHAEL H. WOJCIK, JUDGE.

Before this Court in our original jurisdiction is an application for summary relief (Application) filed by Seth H. Steinman (Steinman), proceeding pro se, in connection with his petition for writ of mandamus (Petition) filed against Tyree C. Blocker, former Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP). Steinman challenges his sex offender registration obligations under the Act of February 21, 2018, P.L. 27, 42 Pa. C.S. §§9799.10 - 9799.75 (commonly known as "Act 10"), 2 which was the version of the sexual offender registration law in effect at the time he filed his Petition. Steinman asks this Court to declare that he is not required to register as a sex offender with the PSP pursuant to Act 10 and that Act 10 is unconstitutional as applied to him pursuant to Commonwealth v. Muniz, 164 A.3d 1189 (Pa. 2016), cert. denied, 138 S.Ct. 925 (2018).3 During the pendency of this matter, the General Assembly reenacted and amended Act 10 by the Act of June 12, 2018, P.L. 140, 42 Pa. C.S. §§9799.10-9799.75 (commonly known as "Act 29"), which is now the operative law. For the reasons that follow, we grant Steinman's application for summary relief.

Background

On March 19, 2018, PSP sent Steinman a letter advising him that he may be subject to Act 10's sex offender registration requirements and that he must comply with such requirements by May 22, 2018. The letter stated, in relevant part: Recently Governor Wolf signed into law Act 10 of 2018, which makes significant changes to Pennsylvania's sexual offender registration requirements under 42 Pa. C.S. Chapter 97. You have been identified as a sexual offender who may be affected by these changes.

Petitioner's Brief, at 4.

In response, on April 12, 2018, Steinman instituted this action by filing his Petition seeking relief from Act 10's sex offender registration requirements. Steinman claims Act 10 may not be retroactively applied to him. In his Petition, Steinman avers that, on April 17, 2004, he was found guilty of rape (18 Pa. C.S. §3121), sexual assault (18 Pa. C.S. §3124.1) and simple assault (18 Pa. C.S. §2701) stemming from an incident that occurred on June 16, 2000.4 Petition for Writ of Mandamus, ¶4. He was sentenced to 9½ years to 20 years for the rape and sexual assault convictions, and 1 to 2 years for the simple assault conviction.5 Id. He was not found to be a sexually violent predator. Id. Steinman was released on parole on November 20, 2017. Id. Consequently, he is purportedly now subject to Act 10's registration requirements, which mandate lifetime registration as a sexual offender. Id., ¶5. Steinman asserts that applying Act 10 to his 2000 offense is unconstitutional as applied to him pursuant to Muniz, which declared that the prior version of the law was unconstitutional to the extent it violated the ex post facto clauses of both the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions. See U.S. Const. art. I, §9, cl. 3; Pa. Const. art. I, §17.

On August 28, 2018, Steinman filed his Application seeking summary relief pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Appellate Procedure 1532(b).6 In his Application and supporting brief, Steinman alleges that Act 10 cannot lawfully be applied to him because the offense occurred in 2000, prior to the lifetime registration requirements. Steinman maintains that Act 10 is just another reenactment of the previous law, which the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional in Muniz. Steinman seeks a declaration that Act 10 is unconstitutional as applied to his sex offender registration status.

In response, PSP argues that Steinman is not entitled to summary relief because: (1) Muniz's holding does not apply to Act 10 because Act 10 was enacted after, and in response to, Muniz; and (2) Act 10 is not punitive and does not violate the ex post facto clauses of the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions. PSP does not dispute that Steinman was found guilty of rape, sexual assault and simple assault, the sentences imposed for these convictions, or the dates of the commission of the crimes or Steinman's convictions. Respondent's Answer and New Matter, ¶4. PSP admits that Steinman was not found to be a sexually violent predator. Id.

Steinman challenges his registration obligations under Act 10, which was the version of the statute in effect at the time he filed his Petition. Shortly before Steinman filed his Application, on June 12, 2018, the General Assembly reenacted and amended some provisions of Act 10 in Act 29, which went into effect immediately. Because Act 29 replaced Act 10, Act 29 is now the only statute under which Steinman can be compelled to register as a sex offender consistent with PSP's assertion that Steinman is subject to the most current version of the sex offender registration statute. Consequently, we review Steinman's registration obligations under Act 29.7

Section 9799.55 of Act 29 sets forth the registration requirements for various categories of sex offenders. 42 Pa. C.S. §9799.55. Of relevance here, Section 9799.55 imposes lifetime registration for "Individuals convicted . . . in this Commonwealth of the following offenses, if committed on or after April 22, 1996, but before December 20, 2012: 18 Pa. C.S. §3121 (relating to rape); . . . [and] 18 Pa. C.S. §3124.1 (relating to sexual assault) . . . ." 42 Pa. C.S. §9799.55(b)(2)(i)(A). This section applies to individuals who "committed an offense . . . on or after April 22, 1996, but before December 20, 2012, and whose period of registration as set forth in 42 Pa. C.S. §9799.55 has not expired." Section 21(2) of Act 29.8 Under Act 29, an individual who is subject to registration under 42 Pa. C.S. §9799.55(b), or who was...

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