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People v. Minnis

Supreme Court of Illinois

October 20, 2016

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Appellant,
v.
MARK MINNIS, Appellee.

          FREEMAN JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Chief Justice Garman and Justices Thomas, Kilbride, Karmeier, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          FREEMAN JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Section 3(a) of the Sex Offender Registration Act (Registration Act or Act) requires sex offenders to disclose and periodically update information regarding their Internet identities and websites. 730 ILCS 150/3(a) (West 2014). This information is subject to public inspection as provided by the Sex Offender Community Notification Law (Notification Law or Law) (730 ILCS 152/101 et seq. (West 2014)). The circuit court of McLean County entered an order finding that this Internet disclosure provision was overbroad in violation of the first amendment to the United States Constitution. U.S. Const., amend. I. The State appeals directly to this court. Ill. S.Ct. R. 603 (eff. Oct. 1, 2010). We now reverse the order of the circuit court and remand the cause to the circuit court for further proceedings.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 On December 15, 2010, the circuit court adjudicated defendant, Mark Minnis, a delinquent minor for committing the offense of criminal sexual abuse (720 ILCS 5/12-15(b) (West 2010)).[1] The court sentenced him to 12 months' probation. Defendant's adjudication for criminal sexual abuse rendered him a "sex offender" pursuant to the Registration Act (730 ILCS 150/2(A)(5), (B)(1) (West 2010)). Adhering to the statutory mandate (730 ILCS 150/3-5(a) (West 2010)), the court ordered defendant to register as a sex offender.

         ¶ 4 On December 17, 2010, defendant reported to the Normal police department to register. On his first sex offender registration form, defendant disclosed, inter alia, his two e-mail addresses and his Facebook account. The Registration Act required defendant to report thereafter at least once per year (730 ILCS 150/6 (West 2010)). Defendant's May 2011 registration form listed the same Internet information.[2]

         ¶ 5 Defendant registered again on August 29, 2014. Defendant included his two e-mail addresses on the registration form, but he omitted his Facebook account. On September 9, Normal police officers viewed defendant's publicly accessible Facebook profile online. They observed that defendant changed his Facebook cover photo only one month prior to his August 2014 registration. On September 12, defendant was arrested and charged by information with failing to register as a sex offender pursuant to section 3(a) of the Act (730 ILCS 150/3(a) (West 2014)). On September 24, defendant was indicted for that offense, "in that he did not register an Internet site, a Facebook page, which he had uploaded content to."

         ¶ 6 In May 2015, defendant filed a pretrial motion to dismiss the indictment. Defendant argued that the Internet disclosure provision in section 3(a) of the Registration Act was overbroad and vague in violation of the United States Constitution. On July 7, 2015, the circuit court entered an order granting defendant's motion to dismiss the indictment. The court rejected defendant's argument that the challenged provision in section 3(a) was unconstitutionally vague. However, the court found that the Internet disclosure provision was overbroad in violation of the first amendment. In compliance with Illinois Supreme Court Rule 18 (eff. Sept. 1, 2006), the circuit court specifically found the entire Internet disclosure provision unconstitutional, both on its face and as applied to defendant, and based solely on the first amendment.[3]

         ¶ 7 Because this provision in section 3(a) was held invalid, the State appeals directly to this court. Ill. S.Ct. R. 603 (eff. Oct. 1, 2010). We granted the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and the Electronic Frontier Foundation leave to submit an amici curiae brief in support of defendant. Ill. S.Ct. R. 345 (eff. Sept. 20, 2010). Additional pertinent background will be discussed in the context of our analysis of the issues.

         ¶ 8 II. ANALYSIS

         ¶ 9 Prior to addressing the merits of the circuit court's finding of unconstitutionality, we must consider which part of section 3(a) of the Registration Act was properly before the circuit court. Pertinent to the instant case, section 3(a) requires a sex offender to disclose and periodically update two categories of Internet information-identities and websites-described as follows:

"all e-mail addresses, instant messaging identities, chat room identities, and other Internet communications identities that the sex offender uses or plans to use, all Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) registered or used by the sex offender, all blogs and other Internet sites maintained by the sex offender or to which the sex offender has uploaded any content or posted any messages or information ***." 730 ILCS 150/3(a) (West 2014).

         The circuit court invalidated the disclosure requirement for both categories.

         ¶ 10 A. Defendant's Standing

         ¶ 11 The State contends that the circuit court "lacked jurisdiction to rule on the constitutionality" of the entire Internet disclosure provision in section 3(a). The State observes that defendant was charged specifically with failing to register his Facebook account, which is an Internet site. Therefore, according to the State, "the circuit court had jurisdiction to rule only on the constitutionality" of the Internet disclosure provision as it pertains to websites and lacked jurisdiction to declare unconstitutional the disclosure provision as it pertains to Internet identities.

         ¶ 12 We disagree. The State overlooks that defendant bases his facial challenge to the entire Internet disclosure provision on first amendment overbreadth grounds. The first amendment provides, in pertinent part, that "Congress shall make no law *** abridging the freedom of speech" (U.S. Const., amend. I) and applies to the States through the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment. De Jonge v. Oregon, 299 U.S. 353, 364 (1937). The assertion of a first amendment overbreadth claim is not the application of a procedural rule but is a function of substantive first amendment law. Sabri v. United States, 541 U.S. 600, 610 (2004). A state court may not avoid a proper facial attack brought on federal constitutional grounds. New York v. Ferber, 458 U.S. 747, 767 (1982).

         ¶ 13 Generally, a party may not raise, and a court will not consider, a constitutional challenge to a statutory provision that does not affect that party. In re M.I., 2013 IL 113776, ¶¶ 32, 34. Thus, a court will not consider a constitutional challenge to a criminal statutory provision under which a defendant has not been charged. See, e.g., People v. Blackorby, 146 Ill.2d 307, 320-21 (1992); People v. Palkes, 52 Ill.2d 472, 480 (1972). This traditional rule reflects two cardinal principles: the personal nature of constitutional rights and prudential limitations on constitutional adjudication. Broadrick v. Oklahoma, 413 U.S. 601, 610-11 (1973).

         ¶ 14 "The First Amendment overbreadth doctrine, however, represents a departure from the traditional rule that a person may not challenge a statute on the ground that it might be applied unconstitutionally in circumstances other than those before the court." Bates v. State Bar, 433 U.S. 350, 380 (1977). "This 'exception to the usual rules governing standing, ' Dombrowski v. Pfister, [380 U.S. 479, 486 (1965)], reflects the transcendent value to all society of constitutionally protected expression." Bigelow v. Virginia, 421 U.S. 809, 816 (1975). As the United States Supreme Court has explained:

"We have provided this expansive remedy out of concern that the threat of enforcement of an overbroad law may deter or 'chill' constitutionally protected speech-especially when the overbroad statute imposes criminal sanctions. [Citations.] Many persons, rather than undertake the considerable burden (and sometimes risk) of vindicating their rights through case-by-case litigation, will choose simply to abstain from protected speech, [citation]-harming not only themselves but society as a whole, which is deprived of an uninhibited marketplace of ideas." Virginia v. Hicks, 539 U.S. 113, 119 (2003).
Therefore, in the first amendment context, courts permit attacks on overly broad statutes without requiring that the person making the attack show that his or her specific conduct was actually protected. Bigelow, 421 U.S. at 815-16 (collecting cases); People v. Holder, 96 Ill.2d 444, 449 (1983); Village of Schaumburg v. Jeep Eagle Sales Corp., 285 Ill.App.3d 481, 484-85 (1996) (based on first amendment overbreadth grounds, defendant charged with violating particular subsections of ordinance had standing to challenge other subsections with which defendant was not charged).

         ¶ 15 Of course, a person must present more than subjective allegations of a subjective "chill." "There must be a 'claim of specific present objective harm or a threat of specific future harm.' " Bigelow, 421 U.S. at 816-17 ...


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