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Ninth Circuit Must Dismiss Moot Juvenile Sex Offender Case

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on June 29, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The U.S. Supreme court has ordered the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss the appeal of a one-time juvenile sex offender, writes Courthouse News.

The dismissal was ordered largely due to the fact that the case, when it reached the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, was moot.

The juvenile male was charged in 2005 for allegedly abusing a younger boy, then aged ten. The accused, who was thirteen at the time of the offense, was charged with sexual abuse at the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in Montana. The abuse had allegedly occurred over the course of two years.

After the offender was judged as a delinquent, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act was enacted by Congress. The new law would require all sex offenders, including juvenile offenders, to register.

In 2007, a federal judge found that the offender had violated the terms of his prerelease program and ordered him to register until his release at the age of twenty-one.

Of course, the registration requirement came along after the offender had already been charged with the offense and as such, the judge was applying a sort of "retroactive" requirement, possibly barred by ex-post facto rules.

That's exactly what the Ninth Circuit found in 2008, when the case went before it. The Ninth Circuit held that the federal judge had violated the Ex Post Facto Clause of the Constitution. This decision came after the boy had turned twenty-one.

Wrote the Supreme Court:

"At the time of the Ninth Circuit's decision in this case, the District Court's order of juvenile supervision had expired, and respondent was no longer subject to the sex offender-registration conditions that he sought to challenge on appeal."

As a result of this, the Ninth Circuit could not review the case unless the offender was able to show that a decision invalidating the lower court's order would likely redress some collateral consequence of the registration conditions, the Supreme Court stated.

The Supreme Court decision was unanimous. As is often the case, Justice Kagan sat this one out.

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