So here’s a topical installment of What Really Grinds My Gears:
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In my post last night about Danbury’s desire to expel all sex offenders from its shelter, a helpful readers points to this NYT article about a homeless sex offender in Georgia who could be facing life in prison for failing to register.
The offender, Larry W. Moore Jr. of Augusta, was convicted in North Carolina in 1994 of indecent liberty with a child, a felony. This week he was convicted for the second time of violating a requirement that he register. Under the new law, a second violation carries an automatic life sentence.
“We have suggested that it is cruel and unusual punishment as it relates to the facts of this case,” said Sam B. Sibley Jr., the state public defender in Augusta, whose office represents Mr. Moore and is planning an appeal on his behalf.
This increased penalty is in conjunction with some tough residency restrictions: 1,000 feet of not only schools and day care centers but also churches, swimming pools and school bus stops.
There is only one shelter in Georgia that accepts male sex offenders. One. Sex offenders that cannot find housing have to resort to all sorts of living accommodations.
In Florida, the state authorized five offenders to live under a bridge in Miami after they were unable to find suitable housing that they could afford. In Iowa, a victims’ group found that offenders tried to comply with the registry law by offering addresses like “rest area mile marker 149” or “RV in old Kmart parking lot.”
I had a client once who was charged with failure to register. He was living under a bridge. I half-joked at the time that he should send in the registration form with “Under Charter Oak Bridge” as his address. Guess some people are actually doing it.
Then you get quotes like this:
Homelessness is not an acceptable excuse. “One of the requirements when you become a sex offender is you have to have an address,” said Sgt. Ray Hardin of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office in Augusta.
Sergeant Hardin said enforcement of the law required a dedicated investigator, a global positioning system and, each time an offender moves, hours of paperwork. At least 15 sex offenders have been arrested because of homelessness since the law took effect in July 2006, according to documents gathered through pretrial proceedings in a lawsuit brought by the Southern Center for Human Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Perhaps the police department can set up tents in their parking lots, where sex offenders can stay. This way, there’s zero cost of monitoring and these folks (some of them are human, too) have a roof over their heads.
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That a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus was denied is not news – it is to be expected – but that it made this morning’s Courant is certainly news.
Richard Lapointe, convicted 20 years ago of killing his wife’s grandmother, will not get a new trial.
In a written decision in Rockville Thursday, Superior Court Judge Stanley T. Fuger denied the request for a new trial, which means Lapointe will remain behind bars for life, plus 60 years, without the possibility of parole.
Fuger said the evidence put forward by Lapointe’s attorney was much like his 83-page petition – “exceeding in extraneous detail, yet lacking in key substance.” And more than one-third of the 177 exhibits presented at a hearing July 16-20 for a new trial were completely irrelevant to the case.
Okay, this really irks me. It isn’t a hearing for a new trial. It is a hearing on a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. How hard is it to get the story straight? Yes, that’s the eventual result, in that if the conviction is found to be unconstitutional as a result of a violation of the Sixth Amendment guarantee of effective assistance of counsel, then the remedy is a new trial, but this is not a petition for a new trial. [Jamie Spencer expressed the same frustration with incorrect reporting a few weeks ago.]
To get Lapointe’s case heard, [his lawyer] Casteleiro had to prove that Lapointe’s counsel was ineffective during his original trial and in his bid for a new trial, which meant he had to prove that Lapointe’s counsel’s errors were so serious that he was deprived of a fair trial.
I guess that’s what he had to prove, but this shorthand seems quite inadequate. What he had to prove was that the trial attorney’s performance was below the standard of a reasonably competent criminal defense lawyer and that but for his deficient performance, the outcome would have been different (he would have been acquitted).
See? That wasn’t hard. Sixth Amendment jurisprudence 101.
Following Gov. Rell’s order yesterday, the parole board released almost 500 pages worth of parole records for Hayes and Komisarjevsky.
Their histories of chronic drug abuse are well documented in those records. The parole board did not release the two men’s mental health recordsor any records of arrest that did not result in convictions. The board also withheld 15 pages of parole records for Hayes and one page for Komisarjevsky, which prosecutors asked be withheld pending review.
Hayes had been released to a Hartford halfway house in June 2006, in preparation for his scheduled parole date of Feb. 1 of this year. But after a urine test on Nov. 21, 2006, showed he had used cocaine, he was sent back to prison.
Let’s hope these records clear up one misconception. Hayes had a criminal record; Komisarjevsky did not.
Komisarjevsky had no criminal record prior to his arrest in March 2002 on multiple burglary counts, including nighttime burglaries into occupied homes. He was sentenced to nine years in prison on 21 burglary and related counts.
More after the jump