In re C.P.

In September 2010, NJDC, joined by several organizations, filed an amicus brief  in the Ohio Supreme Court challenging the application of Ohio Senate Bill 10 (passed to comply with the Adam Walsh Act (AWA)) to juveniles where it requires mandatory tier III classification of juveniles aged 14 to 17 as Public Registry-Qualified Juvenile Offender Registrants (PRQJOR’s). This law required juveniles who are adjudicated delinquent of a sex offense to be subject to mandatory public registration (including providing a photo on the AG’s internet registry of sex offenders) without opportunity for court review or modification for a minimum of 25 years.

In the brief, amici discussed the role of the juvenile court in addressing the rehabilitative needs of juveniles charged with delinquency offenses, emphasizing treatment and rehabilitation over punishment and prioritizing a focus on protecting children from the harmful consequences of involvement in the criminal justice system. Further, amici examined recent research on adolescent behavior and brain development, as utilized in the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Roper v. Simmons and Graham v. Florida. NJDC also assisted petitioner in preparation for oral argument through several strategy discussions and moots held in advance of the argument.

On April 3, 2012, the Supreme Court of Ohio issued a favorable opinion, in the case, voiding as unconstitutional provisions of the AWA that imposed automatic lifelong registration and community notification requirements on juveniles classified as PRQJOR’s. The Court held that applying automatic lifetime sex offender registration and community notification requirements imposed by the AWA violated the prohibitions in the U.S. and Ohio Constitutions against cruel and unusual punishment and also violated C.P.’s due process rights. The Court held that automatically applying public notification requirements to juveniles under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, without opportunity for judicial review, ignores these differences between youth and adult and commented that the requirements of the AWA “define [the youth’s] adult life before it has a chance to truly begin.”

This decision furthers the trend in jurisprudence recognizing the need to incorporate the unique developmental characteristics of youth into law and policy and supporting continued legislative reform efforts to exclude all juveniles from sex offender registration across the country.

Court: Supreme Court of Ohio
September 29, 2010 (download .pdf)
Amicus Brief Discusses: Adolescent Development; Juvenile Sex Offender Registration

Oral Argument: February 16, 2011
April 3, 2012 (download .pdf)