Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Friday, May 23, 2008

Madera: Attorney General Decides Sex Offender Retroactivity

In U.S. v. Madera, No. 07-12176 (May 23, 2008), the Court reversed the district court for failing to dismiss an indictment that charged Madera with failing to register as a sex offender, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a) and the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.
The defendant, having been convicted of sexual abuse in New York, moved to Florida, but failed to register a sex offender. This occurred shortly after the enactment of the Walsh Act but before the Attorney General had promulgated rules governing whether previously convicted sex offenders were retroactively subject to the new law. The district court held that it had the power to determine whether the Walsh Act applied retroactively, held that it did apply retroactively and did apply to Madera. Reversing, the Court noted that the Act vested this power exclusively in the Attorney General. Because the Attorney General had not yet promulgated retroactivity rules, Madera could not be charged with having failed to register.