Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Gregory v. Pennsylvania State Police

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

May 2, 2018

Norman E. Gregory, Petitioner
v.
Pennsylvania State Police, Respondent

          Submitted: February 23, 2018

          BEFORE: HONORABLE MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, President Judge HONORABLE MICHAEL H. WOJCIK, Judge HONORABLE DAN PELLEGRINI, Senior Judge

          OPINION

          MICHAEL H. WOJCIK, JUDGE.

         Before this Court for disposition in our original jurisdiction are cross-applications for summary relief regarding the application of Pennsylvania's sex offender registration scheme for convicted sex offenders in the act known as the Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), [1] which is the General Assembly's fourth iteration of the law commonly referred to as Megan's Law.[2] Based on the Supreme Court's recent decision in Commonwealth v. Muniz, 164 A.3d 1189 (Pa. 2017), cert. denied, __U.S.__, 138 S.Ct. 925 (2018), we grant in part, deny in part, and dismiss as moot in part the cross-applications.

         On December 29, 2017, Norman E. Gregory (Petitioner), proceeding pro se, filed a Third Amended Petition for Review (Petition) against Respondent Pennsylvania State Police (PSP).[3] In Count I of the Petition, Petitioner alleges that SORNA is unconstitutional as applied to him because it denies him equal protection under the law. In Count II, he requests that this Court strike Section 9799.11(b)(2) of SORNA, 42 Pa. C.S. §9799.11(b)(2), which declares that SORNA "shall not be construed as punitive." He claims it is for the courts to determine whether or not a statute is punitive, not the General Assembly. In Count III, he alleges that SORNA's notification and registration requirements and related procedures are unconstitutional as applied to him under the Ex Post Facto clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 10. Petition at ¶¶16-32.

         The facts of this case are not in dispute and are summarized as follows. Petitioner pled nolo contendere on March 2, 1983, in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas (trial court) to charges including Attempted Rape, Rape, Robbery, Indecent Assault, Burglary, Terroristic Threats, False Imprisonment, Simple Assault and Recklessly Endangering Another Person. Gregory v. Pennsylvania State Police (Pa. Cmwlth., No. 245 M.D. 2015, filed October 3, 2016), slip op. at 2. On February 15, 1984, the trial court sentenced him to an aggregate term of incarceration of 17½ to 50 years. Id. Petitioner is currently incarcerated at a state correctional institution. Id. Petitioner has been granted parole but remains incarcerated with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections awaiting approval of a home plan. Id. Upon his release from incarceration, Petitioner will be required to register as a sex offender under SORNA. See 42 Pa. C.S. §9799.13(2).

         SORNA established a three-tier classification system for sexual offenders. 42 Pa. C.S. §9799.14. An offender's tier status is determined by the offense committed and impacts the length of time an offender is required to register and the severity of the punishment should an offender fail to register or provide false registration information. 42 Pa. C.S. §9799.15; 18 Pa. C.S. §4915.1. Under SORNA, Attempted Rape and Rape are Tier III offenses. 42 Pa. C.S. §9799.14(d)(4). Tier III offenders are required to register for the offender's lifetime. 42 Pa. C.S. §9799.15.

         Once the pleadings closed, the parties filed cross-applications for summary relief. Petitioner filed a Motion for Summary Judgment seeking summary judgment as to Counts II, relating to the General Assembly's classification of SORNA as nonpunitive, and III of his Petition, his ex post facto claim. In turn, PSP filed an Application for Summary Relief as to all three counts. Both parties filed answers in response and briefs in support.[4] The cross-applications are ready for disposition.[5]

         Count III - Ex Post Facto Law

         We begin by addressing the parties' applications as they pertain to Count III of the Petition, Petitioner's ex post facto claim. Petitioner alleges that he should not be subjected to SORNA's registration requirements based on the Supreme Court's recent decision in Muniz. In Muniz, the Supreme Court held that SORNA's enhanced registration requirements are punitive in effect and cannot be applied retroactively. Because SORNA went into effect after his conviction, Petitioner asserts that application of SORNA against him violates the ex post facto clause of the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions. PSP concedes that "Muniz is final and dispositive in the instant case regarding the ex post facto arguments set forth in Count III of the [Petition]." Respondent's Status Report, 2/8/18, at ¶9.

         Both the federal and state constitutions prohibit the enactment of "ex post facto" laws. U.S. Const. art. I, §10; Pa. Const. art. I, §17. In Muniz, our Supreme Court examined whether SORNA constituted an unconstitutional ex post facto law. The Court opined there are two critical elements that must be met for a criminal or penal law to be deemed ex post facto. First, "'it must be retrospective, that is, it must apply to events occurring before its enactment.'" Muniz, 164 A.3d at 1195-96 (quoting Weaver v. Graham, 450 U.S. 24, 29 (1981)). Second, "'it must disadvantage the offender affected by it.'" Id. at 1196 (quoting Weaver, 450 U.S. at 29). Applying this analysis to SORNA, the Court determined that application of SORNA implicated the ex post facto clauses because the statute would inflict greater punishment on the sex offender than the law in effect at the time he committed his crimes. Id. at 1196. Thus, our Supreme Court held that the registration provisions of SORNA are punitive in nature and a retroactive application violates the federal Ex Post Facto Clause of the U.S. Constitution, U.S. Const. art. I, §10, and the ex post facto clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution, Pa. Const. art. I, §17. Id.[6]

         Here, Petitioner committed his crimes and entered a plea of nolo contendere long before SORNA went into effect, when the registration requirements for Attempted Rape and Rape were much less onerous. Consequently, SORNA cannot be applied retroactively to Petitioner without violating the ex post facto clauses of the U.S. and Pennsylvania Constitutions. Muniz, 164 A.3d at 1192-93. Thus, Petitioner is not required to register under SORNA for the 1982 offenses that led to his 1983 conviction. Accordingly, we grant summary relief to Petitioner on Count III of his Petition and correspondingly deny summary relief to PSP on this count.[7]

         ORDER

         AND NOW, this 2nd day of May, 2018, upon consideration of the parties' cross-applications for summary relief to Petitioner's Third Amended Petition for Review (Petition), and for the reasons set forth in the foregoing opinion, the applications are ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.