Following Does v. Snyder, 834 F.3d 696 (6th Cir. 2016) challenging Michigan’s registry on an Ex Post Facto basis, dozens of complaints have been filed in the Federal District Courts in Tennessee challenging Tennessee’s sex offender registry as unconstitutional. After many successful rulings on these cases that were filed on an individual basis, our firm, along with attorneys at Bass, Berry, & Sims, PLC, have filed a class action lawsuit challenging Tennessee’s sex offender registry on behalf of all registrants who are being required to register who either had no registry requirement at the time of their conviction or only had a 10 year requirement.
This complaint, Does #1-8 v. Lee et al. (3:23-cv-01240), was filed on November 22, 2023 in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee and was assigned to Judge Aleta A. Trauger.
A class action is a type of lawsuit that permits one or more people (called “plaintiffs” or “class representatives”) to represent a larger group of people (called a “class”) that have similar claims. Here, there are eight plaintiffs or class representatives, who are bringing the case on behalf of all registrants with a retroactive lifetime registration requirement.
The retroactive lifetime registration requirement has been imposed upon different class representatives at different times. For example, some class representatives were convicted of an offense that occurred prior to January 1, 1995, before any version of the registry existed. Other class representatives were convicted for an offense that occurred after 1995 but before June 30, 2000 when the first lifetime registration requirement was imposed. Further still, some class representatives whose offenses occurred after June 30, 2000 were not initially classified as violent sexual offenders but were later reclassified as violent, resulting in a retroactive lifetime requirement. Finally, some class representatives were convicted of offenses that occurred before July 1, 2014 and were later classified as an offender against children, resulting in a lifetime registration requirement. In all of these scenarios, a class representative initially either had no registry requirement or only a ten-year registry requirement at the time of their offense but were retroactively required to remain on the sexual offender registry for life. This violates the ex-post facto clause of the United States Constitution.
The Class Representatives individual ex-post facto claims are based upon the following retroactive application of Tennessee's Sex Offender Registry:
Doe 1: Convicted of an offense in military court in 1988 and is now classified as a violent sexual offender and is required to retroactively register for life.
Doe 2: Convicted of an offense in 1990 and is now classified as a violent sexual offender and is required to retroactively register for life.
Doe 3: Convicted of a sexual offense in 2000. However, was later reclassified as a violent sexual offender and required to register for life as of June 30, 2000
Doe 4: Convicted in Federal Court of a sexual offense in 2003, but was retroactively classified as violent as a result of the 2004 enactment of the SORVTA.
Doe 5: Classified as a sexual offender for a 2003 conviction but retroactively reclassified as a violent sexual offender and required to register for life as of June 8, 2004.
Doe 6: Convicted of a sexual offense in 2004 but retroactively reclassified as an offender against children and required to register for life.
Doe 7: Convicted in Federal Court of a sexual offense in 2005, but retroactively reclassified as an offender against children and required to register for life.
Doe 8: Convicted in Federal Court of a sexual offense in 2004, but retroactively required to register for life as a result of being reclassified as an offender against children.
On December 6, 2023, we filed a motion for class certification asking the Court to certify the Class and appoint the above Does to as class representatives. This motion is currently pending before the Court. If the class is certified, the ultimate decision in this case will apply to everyone in the class (i.e., anyone with a retroactive lifetime registration requirement). If you are required to register in Tennessee, you do not need to do anything at this time to be included as part of the class.
The class action will apply to any individual on Tennessee’s registry that has a retroactive lifetime registration requirement based upon the law that was in place at the time of your offense.
Importantly, if your offense date was after July 1, 2014, then this class action lawsuit will not apply to you. However, there may be other avenues for relief in the future. We recommend that all registrants stay fully compliant with the registry while the case is pending to avoid criminal charges or other consequences.
It is too soon to determine when the class action will be concluded. However, we have filed a motion for a preliminary injunction requesting preliminary relief while the case is pending. If the preliminary injunction is granted in full, and you have a retroactive lifetime registration requirement, it is possible that you may receive relief in the next six months. However, the Court may not grant relief to the entire class. If that is the case, relief may not be granted until the case is concluded. We will update this website when we have any updates to when relief may be granted either on a preliminary or permanent basis.
We will post periodic updates on this website. However, if you would like to be added to our email list to receive updates please complete the form below.
Because there are thousands of people on Tennessee's registry, the lawyers in this case cannot answer questions for individual registrants. However, if you have questions regarding removal from Community Supervision for Life or you need assistance in requesting to be removed from the registry because you are classified as a sexual offender and have completed your required registration period, please indicate that in the form below, and we will contact you.
*The information on this website is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your specific situation. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please refrain from sending any confidential information to us until an attorney-client relationship has been established in writing.