Non-registration of sex offenders dismays federal judge
WEDNESDAY, 18 AUGUST 2010 00:00
BY ANDREW O. DE GUZMAN - REPORTER
A VISITING federal judge said it was a “shocking” experience to learn that some CNMI sex offenders are not registering with the federal Sex Offenders Registry and Notification Act.
“Why are so many people not registering?” Judge David O. Carter of the Central District of California asked after a sentencing hearing last week.
Prior to the sentencing hearing of a defendant who pleaded guilty to an “ice” charge last week, Carter revoked the pretrial release of another defendant, also facing an “ice” charge, for not revealing his prior arrest for assault and battery and for being a sex offender.
“It’s a whole continuing problem I’ve seen in the last two weeks, and that is non-registration, and if the court had jurisdiction, warrants would go out immediately. There wouldn’t even be a hesitancy. The Marshals would be like a revolving door bringing people in,” Carter said.
He said what had happened in the sentencing hearing “may not be the fault of anyone.”
“But…just the absence of registration…is rather shocking,” Carter said.
On July 27, 2006, President Bush signed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 which included the Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act, or SORNA, establishing a comprehensive national system for the registration of sex offenders.
CNMI Public Law 11-35 mandates the registration of sex offenders for 10 years.
“Why isn’t the [CNMI] imposing these restrictions or safeguards?” Carter asked.
He noted that “the federal court only takes in a small number of defendants, and in the last two weeks, I’ve seen this continuing problem: non-registration.”
Carter said the registration requirements “are really in the best interest of the CNMI.”
“It’s not my jurisdiction,” Carter said, adding that he is leaving the matter “to [his] able [local] colleagues.”
“They’re the ones who safeguard the citizens of this wonderful island. They have the greatest interest in making certain that people are registered,” Carter said.
He said he was concerned “because so many of these [cases] are coming through the federal court, and we’re seeing this lack of registration time and time again. I trust we’ve got very competent [local] judges who are now aware of the problem and will resolve it from this point forward. Let’s leave it at that.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney James J. Benedetto explained, in an e-mail to the Variety, that “the duration of the registration requirement depends on whether one has been convicted of a Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3 offense, with Tier 1 being the least serious, and Tier 3 being the most serious. If someone has been convicted of Tier 1 crimes, then they have to register for 10 years. Tier 2 requires registration for 25 years (Tier 2 and 3 include crimes like kidnapping, child exploitation, sex trafficking of minors, child prostitution, using a child to produce child pornography, etc.).”
Benedetto added, “Further complicating things is that there are local laws requiring registration of offenders, and they have separate requirements, separate from the federal registration law.”
Former Tinian Commonwealth Utilities Corp. resident director Edward Quichocho, who was placed on probation after pleading guilty in an “ice” case, may still be subject to the registration requirements of the local law, “but we were only dealing with the requirements of the federal law,” Benedetto said.
Quichocho’s attorney Michael W. Dotts, said: “The federal statute is complicated and Judge Carter asked the parties in the morning to come back in the afternoon to address whether the statute applied to Mr. Quichocho. The consensus in the afternoon was that the statute did not apply to Mr. Quichocho so it was really a non-issue.”