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The significant audience attendance and the excellent lawyer preparation validated the Court’s decision to hold oral arguments outside Springfield, Illinois, where they are normally heard. Because of the importance of educating the public of the Court’s actions and cases, future oral arguments can hopefully be held at other locations across the state. Blogs are by their nature open to the public and pose no threat to children . Conclusion The Minnis case has significant legal implications for the First Amendment, sex offenders, the Internet, the Illinois courts, and the Illinois criminal justice system. The Minnis Court detailed the competing policy considerations underlying the First Amendment (free speech, including the right to remain anonymous), the broad scope of the Internet and blogs, and the governmental interest in protecting children from exploitation by sexual offenders and the public from sexual recidivists. Since the Illinois Constitution may provide for greater free speech under state law protections than the federal law does under the Court’s “lockstep” doctrine, this argument may be raised on remand. Second, since some federal courts have invalidated state statutes requiring registration of sex offenders or notification to their communities, the split between certain federal and state courts regarding limitations on sex offenders’ free speech rights may eventually be addressed by the United States Supreme Court. Third, since the Minnis Court clearly left future modifications of sex offender laws to the legislature, and since the registration disclosure and notification requirements as a “sex offender” are significant and have a stigma attached to them, the Illinois General Assembly may want to revisit the scope of the Registration Act and Notification Law (e.g., a ten-year reporting requirement and other broad categories of disclosures), and particularly, the effect of the disclosures and notification requirements on juveniles. “More people are shopping online so the possibility of someone stealing their identity increases.Also, kids are off school and spend more time talking to their friends online.
In addition, Section 3(a) mandates that a sex offender submit other information, including a current photograph and his/her current address, place of employment, telephone numbers, vehicle license numbers, and distinguishing marks on the body. [as] [t]he content on the Internet is as diverse as human thought.’” The Illinois Supreme Court rejected the defendant’s “as applied” challenge, holding that since the circuit court did not hold an evidentiary hearing and make findings of fact, any such challenge was “premature.” As to Minnis’ facial challenge to the Registration Act as overbroad, the Court stated that a statute can only be invalidated “if a substantial number of its applications to protected speech are unconstitutional, judged in relation to the statute’s plainly legitimate sweep,” a burden not met by defendant.
Fourth, because of the stigma of being a sex offender, as recognized by the Minnis Court, prosecutors must continue to engage in thorough investigations of sex crimes cases, and they must be particularly careful when deciding whether to charge, or to seek indictments of, juveniles and adults for sex crimes.
Fifth, from the standpoint of a defense attorney, all federal and state law defenses should be promptly raised and evidentiary hearings should be requested when First Amendment “as applied” constitutional challenges are raised. As the Court noted, “[t]he parties base their arguments exclusively on the first amendment.” Id. However, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and the Electronic Frontier Foundation submitted amicus curiae briefs in support of the defendant, which also invoked the free speech guaranty of the Illinois Constitution.
Information regarding juvenile sex offenders is limited to those persons whose “safety may be compromised” by the offender and to senior school personnel; the registration information must also be kept separate from other school records. The Illinois Supreme Court’s Analysis The Minnis Court compared the free speech rights of sex offenders under the First Amendment to the offenders’ Internet disclosure obligations. harming not only [individuals,] but society as a whole, which is deprived of an uninhibited marketplace of ideas,” especially when criminal sanctions are imposed. Moreover, Illinois’ sex offender laws are consistent with those of other states. In rejecting the defendant’s characterization that Illinois’ sex offenders’ registration requirement was “poor policy,” the Court emphasized that its “task” was to decide whether the legislature violated the Constitution and that on “questions of policy,” the “legislature is in a better position than the judiciary to gather and evaluate data bearing on complex problems.” Moreover, the Illinois sex offender laws were somewhat narrowly-tailored because: juveniles can petition to have their registration terminated after two years; school access to a juvenile sex offender’s registration is limited to more senior school personnel; and “despite its plainly legitimate sweep,” the Internet disclosure provision does not mandate disclosure of individuals with whom the sex offender interacts. A site publicly available on the Internet poses no threat to children—after all, every police officer in the world can see it.” The Illinois Supreme Court disagreed.
According to the Illinois Supreme Court, the First Amendment right to freedom of speech includes the right to publish writings anonymously, as a “‘shield from tyranny of the majority’” and “‘retaliation’” from “‘an intolerant society.’” As such, the “threat of enforcement of an overbroad law may deter or ‘chill’ constitutionally protected speech . According to the Court, “‘any person with a phone line can become a town crier with a voice that resonates farther than could from any soapbox’” and “‘[t]hrough the use of Web pages . Finally, the Minnis Court distinguished three federal court cases that invalidated state sex offender notification statutes, one which stated that “[b]logs frequently, and perhaps mostly, involve discussion of matters of public concern. The Court stated that “these courts failed to recognize the breath necessary to protect the public” or “to engage in the comparative analysis of whether the chilling effect was substantially broader than that required by the statutory purpose.” V.
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