Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Maciel v. Flores (9th Cir. - Sept. 25, 2013)

James Maciel gets convicted of committing lewd acts against a child, and is sentenced to over 42 years in prison.  He does his time and is released.  He's currently over 65 years old.

When he was sentenced, the trial court didn't impose a parole term.  Nor did it require that Maciel register as a sex offender.

Nonetheless, the state decided to impose a three-year parole term anyway.  Since it said that it doesn't matter that it wasn't part of Maciel's judgment, it was nonetheless required by state law.  Ditto for the sex offender registration.  Doesn't matter that the trial court didn't impose it or there's no judgment anywhere that requires it.  Gonna make you do it.

Maciel violates his new-found parole -- almost certainly for violating the new-found sex offender provisions -- and gets thrown back in prison for some more time.  Which, again, he serves.  Despite the fact (again) that the parole and sex offender provisions were never imposed by a court or part of any judgment against him.

Maciel files a habeas petition.  He wants a ruling that says he shouldn't have been subject to parole and can't be subjected to lifetime sex offender provisions since there's no judgment against him that imposes these conditions.

Justice Cardozo wrote a unanimous opinion for the Supreme Court in 1936 that holds that unless it's in the criminal judgment itself, you can't impose punishment against someone.  Even if it's obvious that it should have been part of the judgment.  The Second Circuit similarly held in 2006 that you can't put someone on parole -- even if it's required by state law -- if it's not part of the judgment, and that the Supreme Court's unanimous 1936 decision makes that rule "clearly established" (and, as there, accordingly justified habeas relief even under AEDPA).

Maciel's case seems pretty darn similar, eh?

Judge Nguyen nonetheless writes an opinion in which the Ninth Circuit refuses to give Maciel any relief.

As for his illegal parole provision, well, during the whole briefing process, he served his time, and is now out of prison.  So Judge Nguyen says that one's moot.

As for the fact that Maciel has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life -- and get thrown back in prison if he makes a mistake -- Judge Nguyen says that's okay.  Even though it's not part of the judgment against him, it's permissible for California to do that.

So for the rest of his life, Maciel can't live within a half-mile or so of any school or park.  And gets to be continuously GPS monitored.  And has to report his address each and every month while he's homeless.

That's okay.  Doesn't have to be part of an actual judgment.

For whatever it's worth, from the briefs filed in a race discrimination case currently pending in the California Court of Appeal (filed by Maciel's former parole officer), it looks like Maciel has been found to be totally disabled and is confined to a wheelchair.  Apparently that makes it difficult to find a place for him to live.  (Not surprisingly, I might add.)  Especially when you're subject to the various, quite stringent residency restrictions of sex offenders.

So according to the California Attorney General's brief, Maciel got placed in a place called "Beautiful Homes for the Elderly," but had to move out of there once they found out it was too close to a school or park.  But since there was no place -- anywhere -- that anyone could find that was compliant with Jessica's law that (1) could treat a disabled elderly individual, (2) in a wheelchair, (3) who required 24 hour care, the state placed Maciel in "temporary custody."  Then they finally release Maciel once they find a place for him to stay, but they give him the wrong address, which results in him going to a noncompliant Motel 6.  At which point they violate his parole and put him back in prison.

What a world.