On March 24, 2009, United States District Judge Lee Yeakel handed down findings of fact in Meza v. Livingston, C.N. A-05-CA-1008-LY.
Raul Meza had been convicted of murdering a nine year old girl. He admitted to sexually assaulting her during the course of the murder, although he never received a conviction for the sex offense. Meza alleged in his petition that the State violated his due-process rights by imposing sex offender condition on his parole.
Judge Yeakel held that Meza:
- Never had a hearing prior to the imposition of sex offender conditions
- Was never provided disclosure of the evidence against him
- Was not allowed to have an attorney
- Not able to confront and cross-examine the witnesses or evidence against him
- Could not subpoena witnesses on his own behalf
- Was not allowed to be present during the deliberations
- Was never provided with findings of fact by the Board to support their decision
Judge Yeakel concluded that the due process afforded Meza was a farce.
He held that minimum due process, like that in parole revocation hearings, was required. These rights include:
- Notice of the proposed condition
- Disclosure of evidence by the State
- The right to confront and cross-examine
- The right to subpoena witnesses and present witnesses on his behalf
- The right to be represented by an attorney
- Written findings of fact upon which the Board relied
The Court also held that the due process rights applied to ALL components of the sex offender condition.
This ruling gives a person the right to challenge imposition of all the components, including, but not limited to:
- Participation in sex offender counseling
- Child safety zone exclusion
- No contact with minors
- No internet access
- Possession of a camera
On August 6, 2009, United States District Court Judge Sam Sparks issued his decision in Graham v. Owens, C.N. A-08-CA-006-SS.
Graham was in a position similar to Meza and filed his action alleging violation of Due Process.
Judge Sparks also ruled in favor of the Applicant and held that Graham was not afforded an appropriate hearing as required in Coleman. The Judge also ordered that a specific finding was required that the parolee constituted a threat to society by reason of his lack of sexual control before the parolee could be subject to sex offender conditions.
The Judge noted in his order that no such finding had ever been made and that none had been made in any of the offenders who are currently on sex offender caseloads in the absence of a conviction for a sex crime.
Unfortunately, federal litigation can take years and costs can exceed $100,000.00. This places relief out of the reach of most individuals.