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State v. Meredith

Supreme Court of Kansas

August 4, 2017

State of Kansas, Appellee,
v.
Steven Meredith, Appellant.

         SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

         1. The legislature intended the Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA) to be civil and nonpunitive for all classes of offenders.

         2. Because the legislature intended KORA to be a regulatory scheme that is civil and nonpunitive, only the clearest proof will suffice to override legislative intent and transform what has been denominated a civil remedy into a criminal penalty.

         Review of the judgment of the Court of Appeals in an unpublished opinion filed July 11, 2014.

         Appeal from Riley District Court; John F. Bosch, judge.

          Kai Tate Mann, of Kansas Appellate Defender Office, argued the cause, and Adam D. Stolte, of the same office, was with him on the briefs for appellant.

          Bethany C. Fields, deputy county attorney, argued the cause and Barry Wilkerson, county attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, were with her on the brief for appellee.

          OPINION

          STEGALL, J.

         When Steven Meredith committed his qualifying drug offense, the Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA), K.S.A. 22-4901 et seq., required him to register for 10 years. However, the 2011 KORA amendments extended Meredith's registration period to 15 years. For the first time on appeal, Meredith argues that any retroactive imposition of the 15-year registration period violates the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution. But the Ex Post Facto Clause is implicated only when punishment is retroactively imposed. We hold that the legislature intended KORA to be a civil, nonpunitive remedial scheme, and Meredith has failed to demonstrate by the clearest proof that KORA's effects on drug offenders are sufficient to overcome the legislature's nonpunitive intent. Therefore, we conclude that the current 15-year KORA registration period applies to Meredith. Accordingly, we affirm and remand for correction of the 2013 nunc pro tunc journal entry of judgment that states otherwise.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         In April 2009, Meredith pled no contest to possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in violation of K.S.A. 2008 Supp. 65-4161(a). At the time Meredith committed the offense, KORA required him to register as an offender for 10 years. See K.S.A. 22-4902(a)(11)(C); K.S.A. 22-4906(a)(1). The district court sentenced Meredith to 24 months' probation and imposed an underlying 30-month prison sentence.

         Although the court did not inform Meredith of his duty to register as a drug offender at the plea hearing or sentencing, the 2009 journal entry of judgment stated that Meredith was required to register. However, the journal entry erroneously stated that Meredith violated K.S.A. 65-4159 or K.S.A. 65-7006 and "such manufacture or possession was for personal use." The offender registration supplement attached to the journal entry showed that Meredith was required to register, but the second page-which would specify the length of registration-is missing from the record on appeal. Thus, the court did not pronounce-and the journal entry did not specify-the number of years Meredith was required to register.

         Over the next few years, Meredith struggled to successfully complete his probation. On May 21, 2012, the court terminated Meredith's probation when it discovered that Meredith had tested positive for methamphetamine. The court did not reference Meredith's KORA registration requirement in either open court or in the probation revocation journal entry of judgment.

         On February 15, 2013, Meredith moved through counsel "for clarification on the status of the defendant's need to register." In the motion, Meredith noted that he was not informed of any duty to register at the time of his conviction or sentencing. Upon his release from prison in 2012, however, the Department of Corrections ordered Meredith to register. According to the motion, Meredith had since registered. The motion did not assert an ex post facto violation but simply asked the court to "hold a hearing on the matter for final determination." The ...


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