(CN) – The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Montana Supreme Court for guidance on whether a juvenile can challenge national requirements to register as a sex offender. The state court’s answers will help the justices decide if the case is moot.
The respondent in the case is a male juvenile who engaged in sex acts with a child under 12. He was sentenced in 2005 to two years’ detention and juvenile supervision until his 21st birthday.
The following year, Congress passed the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, which requires juveniles who commit serious sex crimes to register as sex offenders. The U.S. attorney general said this requirement applied to all sex offenders, including those convicted before the law was enacted.
In 2007 a federal judge revoked the respondent’s supervision and sentenced him to another six months of detention for failing to comply with the conditions of his prerelease program.
The government invoked SORNA’s juvenile registration requirements, arguing that the juvenile offender should have to register as a sex offender at least through the duration of his supervision, which expired on May 2, 2008.
The government asked the Supreme Court to review the 9th Circuit’s decision that the respondent did not have to register as a sex offender during supervision, because those requirements can’t be applied retroactively.
Now that the juvenile’s supervision has ended, the Supreme Court must decide if the case is moot.
It certified the following question to the Montana Supreme Court:
“Is respondent’s duty to remain registered as a sex offender under Montana law contingent upon the validity of the conditions of his now-expired federal juvenile-supervision order that required him to register as a sex offender, or is the duty an independent requirement of Montana law that is unaffected by the validity or invalidity of the federal juvenile-supervision conditions?”
The justices said the Montana high court’s answer “will help determine whether this case presents a live case or controversy.”