Monday, August 08, 2011

Right to Classification Hearing Not Waived by Failure to Appear

In Doe v. Sex Offender Registry Board, the Supreme Judicial Court decided Friday that the Sex Offender Registry Board exceeding its authority in enacting 803 CMR 1.13(2). The regulation reads:
"(2) Failure of the sex offender to appear at the scheduled hearing without good cause shown shall result in the waiver of the right to a hearing and the registration determination and, if applicable, the recommended classification becoming the final Sex Offender Registry Board decision and shall not be subject to judicial review. Notification of such decision shall be accomplished in accordance with 803 CMR 1.25. In addition, law enforcement shall be notified in accordance with 803 CMR 1.27."
The court held:
"Because the Legislature specified only that the classification hearing is waived where the sex offender does not timely request a hearing, we conclude that the board lacked the authority to declare the hearing waived where a sex offender requests a hearing and the sex offender's attorney is present at that hearing." 
"We conclude, therefore, that the board's regulation exceeds the scope of its legislative mandate by declaring that a sex offender who has asked that the board be put to its burden and whose attorney is present and prepared to challenge the recommended classification waives the right to a classification hearing by failing to appear without good cause."