Tuesday, April 26, 2011

No lawsuit for sex offender challenging New York's relocation conditions

The Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision regulates the transfer of sex offenders from one state to another. Plaintiff in this case brought a lawsuit claiming that the New York Division of Parole violated the Compact in allowing him to move from New Jersey to New York provided he tell his New York employer about his conviction and his lifetime supervision. The Division also wanted plaintiff to allow New York to monitor his Internet use at home. He loses the case.

The case is M.F. v. State of New York Executive Department, Division of Parole, decided on April 11. As the Second Circuit (Lynch, Livingston and Parker) notes, the Compact is little-known. This is the first occasion for the Court of Appeals to take up this issue.

The question is whether the Compact can give rise to a cause of action. M.F. wants to sue because the conditions placed on his transfer to New York were unacceptable, causing him to refuse the transfer, which means he cannot live with his companion, who lives in New York. You can understand why M.F. rejected the Division's conditions: he did not want his employer to know that he was convicted in New Jersey of using the Internet to solicit sex from "underage individuals," as the Second Circuit tells us. His legal theory is that these conditions were unfair because an offender convicted in New York would not be subject to the same conditions.

Even if New York violated the Compact, M.F. cannot sue over this. The Compact does not give rise to a private cause of action. The Second Circuit's review of the Compact shows that Congress did not intend or imply that people can sue to enforce it. First, "the Compact's 'text and structure' make clear that it is solely an agreement between states, and not a source of private rights of action for the offenders whose interstate movement it governs." In addition, the statute creating the Compact "does nothing more than authorize states (1) to enter into agreements and compacts with each other for purposes of crime prevention, and (2) to establish agencies to oversee those interstate agreements and compacts."

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