Michigan Sex Offender Registry in Jeopardy

The Michigan Sexual Registry (SORA) has always been known as an over-inclusive entity. A recent ruling from the United States District Court has ruled much of the registry unenforceable until fixed. The decision rendered by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Cleland may have a profound effect on the Michigan criminal justice system. To learn more about the impact of Judge Cleland’s decision, we spoke to several of the top criminal defense lawyers in our state.

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates in Lansing, Michigan. Grabel and Associates are known as the top criminal defense team in the state of Michigan. When asked about the decision, Grabel stated, “Parts of SORA was deemed unconstitutional in 2015, 2016 and 2019. With this decision, we see that the entire registry could be deemed unconstitutional in time. For now, those whose offense occurred before 2011, the entire SORA in unenforceable.”

Peter Samouris runs the “Samouris Law Firm” in East Lansing, Michigan, and is a Senior Associate at Grabel and Associates. Samouris, known as an active litigator in Ingham and Kent County, stated, “It was inevitable that Michigan would have to deal with the mess they created as to cases that predate 2011.”

William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates in Wayne County, Michigan. Amadeo is known as one of the top criminal defense lawyers in the state and provided commentary when he said, “If we are going to be objective, there is a need for SORA. To me, the problem has always been that the registry is over-inclusive. We see prosecutors rush to place young people on the registry with no prior offenses, and we see delayed reporting cases make headlines. If there is no physical evidence or we have someone whose brain is still developing, why are we placing them on a registry for the whole world to see? Judge Cleland has certainly taken a step in the right direction, but as criminal lawyers, we need to band together to make greater changes. If prosecutors and defense lawyers worked as a team, we could help the legislature create a system that presents fairness and protection to the community.”

While the debate about SORA is one that divides attorneys, the one clear thing is that the case “Does v. Snyder” is making changes. How far these changes will go is yet to be determined.

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