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LEWIS v. PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS

January 17, 2003

STEPHEN EDWARD LEWIS, PLAINTIFF, VS. PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, DEFENDANT.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles P. Kocoras, Chief Judge, United States District Court.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter comes before the court on Stephen Lewis's petition for writ of habeas corpus. For the reasons set forth below we deny relief.

BACKGROUND

On June 26, 2000, Lewis pled guilty in Cook County Court to sexual exploitation of a child, a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois. The acts constituting the offense occurred on October 14, 1995. In exchange for his plea and his agreement to register as a sex offender, the Respondent People of the State of Illinois (the "State") dropped two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Lewis, after spending over four years in prison, was required to serve two years of probation and register as a sex offender for ten years pursuant to Illinois's Sex Offender Registration Act (the "Registration Act"), 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. 150/1 et seq. While still on probation and, therefore, in custody, he filed the present petition for writ of habeas corpus on June 24, 2002. He is no longer on probation but he must continue to register as a sex offender for the next several years. The State moved to dismiss the petition on mootness and jurisdictional grounds because Lewis was no longer in custody. We denied the motion to dismiss because the habeas statute (28 U.S.C. § 2254) only requires the petitioner to be in custody at the time he files his petition and because the Constitutional requirement for case or controversy was satisfied by the ongoing collateral consequences of having to register as a sex offender. Lewis has properly exhausted his state remedies prior to bringing this petition. Thus, we now address the merits of the petition.

LEGAL STANDARD

Lewis must demonstrate that the adverse state court proceeding "resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (d)(1); Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 379 (2000).

DISCUSSION

Lewis petitions this court on three grounds: (1) the Registration Act violates federal and state prohibitions on ex post facto laws; (2) the Registration Act violates his right to privacy under the U.S. and Illinois Constitutions; and (3) the Registration Act violates the Constitution*fn1 because the punishment for not complying with it is cruel and unusual. We will not review Lewis's arguments that the Registration Act violates the Illinois Constitution. The federal habeas statute is only concerned with violations of federal law. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (a) (Federal courts are directed to entertain habeas petitions "only on the ground that [the petitioner] is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.") (emphasis added). Moreover, it generally is not our place to review a state court's interpretation of its own constitution. See Mullaney v. Wilbur, 421 U.S. 684, 691 (1975) ("state courts are the ultimate expositors of state law").

As an initial matter, we note that Lewis has utterly failed to cite any precedent that demonstrates that the state court's decision was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal Constitutional law as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States. In his reply, Lewis does cite five Supreme Court cases that held registration statutes unconstitutional, but his reliance on them is misplaced. Lewis cites Albertson v. Subversive Activities Control Bd., 382 U.S. 70 (1965), Leary v. United States, 395 U.S. 6 (1969), United States v. Covington, 395 U.S. 57 (1969), Grosso v. United States, 390 U.S. 62 (1968), and Marchetti v. United States, 390 U.S. 39 (1968), which found certain statutes requiring registration unconstitutional because they violated the privilege against self-incrimination. All of these cases are inapposite because they deal with the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, not the Ex Post Facto clause. To the extent that Lewis now claims the Registration Act violates the privilege against self-incrimination, he loses because he failed to exhaust his state remedies on this issue, because he improperly raised this issue for the first time in his reply brief (and it does not rebut anything in the State's answer brief), and because the argument is without merit. The Registration Act does not require unknown sex offenders to come forward and admit their wrongdoing. It only requires those already convicted to provide personal information so the public can be made aware of their presence.

While the State has no burden of persuasion in this proceeding, it too appears to have lost sight of the applicable standard. Instead of focusing on the issue (whether the Registration Act violates the Constitution as clearly interpreted by the Supreme Court), the State simply requests this court to adopt the holding in state court. Additionally, the State improperly re-argues that Lewis's claims are non-cognizable. In our earlier decision, denying the State's motion to dismiss Lewis's habeas petition, we definitively held that we had statutory and Constitutional jurisdiction over the petition.

Although he now challenges the State's authority to force his registration, Lewis specifically agreed to register as a sex offender pursuant to his plea bargain which resulted in two counts of aggravated sexual abuse charges against him being dropped. See Lewis Petition at 11 (admitting that "[a]s part of the agreement, [he] was to register as a sex offender"). Thus, even if the Registration Act is unconstitutional as Lewis contends, he would still be obligated to register under the terms of his plea bargain.

I. Ex Post Facto Clause

The Constitution prohibits ex post facto laws. U.S. Const. art. I § 10, cl. 1 ("No State shall . . . pass any . . . ex post facto law"). This prohibition applies to the states as well as to the federal government. Dobbert v. Florida, 432 U.S. 282, 308 n. 8 (1977) ("Unlike the procedural guarantees in the Bill of Rights which originally were applicable only to the Federal Government, the Ex Post Facto Clause has always applied to the States."). Lewis contends that the Registration Act violates the Ex Post Facto clause in three ways: (1) the Illinois statute only requires registration if the sex offense occurred on or after January 1, 1996, and he committed his sex offense on October 14, 1995; (2) the Illinois statute did not become effective until July 1, 1999 — well after the committed offense; and (3) in 2001, the registration rules changed resulting in his having to provide the additional information as to where he is employed.

Lewis's first argument is erroneous as it based on a misreading of the Registration Act. The version of the statute that was on the books at the time of his conviction on June 26, 2000, requires registration by those convicted of a sex offense after July 1, 1999. 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. 150/2 (1999). Although he committed the offense in 1995, he was not convicted ...


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