Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Haslage

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

April 3, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Lena Rae Haslage, Defendant-Appellee. United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Taungra Nicole Toney, Defendant-Appellee.

          Argued December 6, 2016.

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Nos. 16-CR-40, 16-CR-43 Charles N. Clevert, Jr., J.P. Stadtmueller, Judges.

          Before WOOD, Chief Judge, and ROVNER and Sykes, Circuit Judges.

          Wood, Chief Judge.

         In Nichols v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 1113 (2016), the Supreme Court held that a sex offender was not required under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), 18 U.S.C. § 2250, to update his registration in the state where he had been residing, after he left his home and moved to a new place. In Nichols, the new place was outside the United States, in the Philippines. The two cases we have consolidated for disposition on appeal present the more conventional scenario of a person who moves from one state in the United States to another-in Lena Rae Haslage's case, from Wisconsin to Washington State, and in Taungra Nicole Toney's case, from Wisconsin to Minnesota. In both cases, the district courts dismissed the indictments for improper venue. The government has appealed. We conclude, however, that the district courts properly applied Nichols and that their judgments must be affirmed.

         I

         Little more need be said about the underlying facts of the two cases. Haslage had been living in Wisconsin, where she was registered as a sex offender based on a 2006 conviction for two offenses. After her initial registration, she updated her file at least eight times in Wisconsin. She was released on parole in February 2015. Not long thereafter, in May, she cut off her electronic monitoring bracelet and took a train to Spokane, Washington. She did not register as required by SORNA and state law in Washington.

         Toney's story is similar. She was convicted in 1999 in Minnesota for prostitution-related offenses. These required her to register under SORNA as a sex offender. By 2015, she was living in Wisconsin, where she was registered. In February of that year, however, she left Wisconsin and traveled to Minnesota, where she took up residence. In violation of SORNA, she failed to register in Minnesota.

         In March 2016, a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Wisconsin indicted both women in separate cases, each of which contained one count of failure to register as a sex offender in violation of SORNA. Each moved to dismiss on the ground that Nichols established that the government could not establish venue in Wisconsin, because no offense or part of an offense was committed in Wisconsin. Both district courts granted the motion and dismissed for improper venue, and these appeals on behalf of the government followed.

         II

         We begin with some basics. The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees a defendant the right to trial by "an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed." Reflecting this constitutional command, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure also state that "the government must prosecute an offense in a district where the offense was committed." Fed. R. Crim. P. 18. This does not mean that there is one and only one district in which a particular crime may be prosecuted. As we have recognized, "[m]any offenses touch more than one district. For these, Congress may, consistently with the Constitution, authorize venue in any district where conduct that is part of the offense occurred." United States v. Orona-Ibarra, 831 F.3d 867, 872 (7th Cir. 2016). The question before us is thus whether any conduct that is part of the offense defined by 18 U.S.C. § 2250 occurred in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. If yes, then the district courts erred; if no, then their judgments were correct.

         SORNA states that "[a] sex offender shall register, and keep the registration current, in each jurisdiction where the offender resides, where the offender is an employee, and where the offender is a student." 42 U.S.C. § 16913(a). In order to keep her registration current, the offender must:

not later than 3 business days after each change of name, residence, employment, or student status, appear in person in at least 1 jurisdiction involved pursuant to subsection (a) of this section and inform that jurisdiction of all changes in the information required for that offender in the sex offender registry.

Id. § 16913(c). The notified jurisdiction then has the responsibility to provide that information to all other jurisdictions in which the offender is required to register.

         Failure to register as required is a crime, punishable by a fine or a prison term of up to 10 years. 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a). The statute covers (1) any sex offender required to register under SORNA, who (2) travels in interstate or foreign commerce, and who (3) knowingly fails to register or update a registration as required by SORNA. In an earlier SORNA case, the Supreme Court held that liability under section 2250 cannot be predicated on pre-SORNA travel. Can v. United States, 560 U.S. 438 (2010). The key to our case, however, is the third element. To understand that better, we take a closer look at Nichols.

         The question before the Court in Nichols was "whether federal law required Nichols to update his registration in Kansas to reflect his departure from the State." 136 S.Ct. at 1115. The Court observed that an earlier statute had imposed the duty to report a change of address to the responsible agency in the state from which the offender was leaving, but that SORNA repealed that part of the law and replaced it with the language we quoted earlier. The Court thus reformulated its question to be "whether the State a sex offender leaves- that is, the State where he formerly resided-qualifies as an 'involved' jurisdiction under § 16913." Id. at 1116.

         The Court stressed the fact that 42 U.S.C. § 16913(a), which identifies "involved" jurisdictions, uses the present tense: "resides, " "is an employee, " and "is a student." It pointed out that a person (such as Nichols) who moves from Leavenworth, Kansas, to Manila, in the Philippines, no longer "resides" (present tense) in Kansas. It follows, the Court said, "that once Nichols moved to Manila, he was no longer required to appear in person in Kansas to update his registration, for Kansas was no longer a 'jurisdiction involved pursuant to subsection (c)' of § 16913." Id. at 1117. The Court found further support for its conclusion in the fact that an offender who moves to a new place has three business days after each change of residence to register in the new place. "SORNA's plain test ... therefore did not require Nichols to update his registration in Kansas once he no longer resided there." Id. at 1118. In short, Nichols committed no offense in Kansas, because his ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.