Michigan Supreme Court Vacated In re TD - DiPiazza Lives

In People v DiPiazza, 286 Mich App 137, 778 NW2d 264 (2009), the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that Michigan's sex offender registration can be unconstitutional as applied to certain individuals. Mr. DiPiazza was involved in the classic "Romeo and Juliet" relationship with his fifteen year old girl friend. He was given a Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (“HYTA”) by a Muskegon County judge. This meant that he did not have a criminal conviction. Notwithstanding the HYTA, he was placed on the sex offender registry. He later married his girl friend and they had children together. Because of his being listed on the sex offender registry, the Defendant became virtually unemployable. A Grand Rapids panel of the Court of Appeals found that SORA was cruel and unusual as applied.

In re TD, the Court of Appeals refused to apply the ruling to juveniles. These Defendants were convicted in the Family Division of the Washtenaw County Circuit Court of second degree criminal sexual conduct. Shortly before the Defendant turned eighteen, he petitioned for relief from the sex offender registry. The Washtenaw judge found that the Defendant did not meet the statutory criteria for removal, but found that DiPiazza made the registry unconstitutional punishment. The Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office appealed to this ruling to the Lansing Division of the Michigan Court of Appeals. That panel reversed the trial court’s ruling. They distinguished and somewhat criticized the DiPiazza ruling.

Because of a statutory change, the former juveniles in In re TD, however, were relieved from their registration obligations. Taking the case over at the Michigan Supreme Court level, the University of Michigan Juvenile Law Clinic successfully convinced the Michigan Supreme Court to set aside the Court of Appeals ruling.
Click here to see their order. This has created as a "reset" and returned the law to a pre-In re TD state. Congratulations to my friend Professor Kim Thomas of the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor on a job well done!