Friday, March 19, 2010

Decision in 'State v. Smith' 2010 WI 16

Wisconsin Supreme Court decision today in this case (2008AP1011-CR) affirming the Court of Appeals, 2009 WI App 16. See Argument.

Opinion by Justice Ziegler, joined by Crooks, Prosser, Roggensack, Gableman.
¶39 Pursuant to Wis. Stat. §301.45, the legislature determined that offenders who are convicted of certain statutes must register as sex offenders. Smith was convicted of an offense for which registration is required. We have outlined numerous conceivable, rational reasons why the legislature could have so chosen to include registration for Smith, who was convicted of false imprisonment of a minor, regardless of whether his crime was of a sexual nature. Smith fails to establish that any of these conceivable policy decisions are arbitrarily or irrationally applied to him.

¶40 Accordingly, we affirm the decision of the court of appeals. We conclude that Wis. Stat. § 301.45 is constitutional as applied to Smith because requiring Smith to register under § 301.45 is rationally related to a legitimate governmental interest. Smith has failed to prove that the registration requirements of § 301.45 as applied to him are unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt.

Dissent by Justice Bradley, joined by Chief Justice Abrahamson.
¶61 Because Smith poses an as-applied [rather than facial] challenge, the majority must tie the legitimate government purpose underlying the sex offender registry to the facts of Smith's case. Smith contends that there is no rational basis for making him register because it is undisputed "that his underlying conviction had no sexual element or motivation."[footnote omitted] Thus, the question presented is whether the registration requirement is constitutional even though it is undisputed that Smith's crime of false imprisonment was not sexually motivated and involved no sexual act or misconduct.
¶65 Contrary to the majority, I conclude that there is no rational basis for requiring Smith, who committed no sexual offense, to register as a sex offender. The government purpose of protecting the public——particularly children——from sexual crimes is not reasonably related to the requirement imposed by law that he register as a sex offender.
See 2009-2010 Term of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Wisconsin Supreme Court rejects challenge to sex offender registry statute,
by Deborah G. Spanic, State Bar of Wisconsin

Supreme Court upholds sex offender registration for non-sex crime, by Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Judging Friday’s SCOWIS Decisions, by Daniel Suhr, Marquette University Law School Faculty blog