NARSOL joins Tenth Circuit case challenging license requirement

NARSOL has filed an amicus brief in an important case challenging Oklahoma’s “unique identifier” requirement on state-issued driver’s licenses.

Ray Neal Carney is a current resident of the Oklahoma prison system. His conviction was for a sexual crime, and after examining the conditions of registration upon his release, he filed a lawsuit protesting a number of the restrictions he will soon face. Most of Carney’s complaints were rejected by the lower Court, but on appeal, Oklahoma’s onerous driver’s license requirement caught the attention of Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In Oklahoma all registered sex offenders are required to have their designation of ‘sex offender’ stamped across the face of their driver’s license or state-issued identification card.

Andrew Barr is the attorney assigned to represent Mr. Carney’s interests, and Barr, in his preparations, came across the amicus brief NARSOL previously filed on behalf of Lester Packingham, the petitioner in Packingham v. North Carolina. Mr. Barr noted NARSOL’s Supreme Court amicus and reached out to us.

In turn, NARSOL worked with our affiliate organizer in Oklahoma, Lori Hamilton, and with Lori’s help was able to gather personal testimony from a number of OK Voices members about the extremely deleterious effects of publicly marking state-issued licenses with the words “sex offender.”

NARSOL was ultimately joined by OK Voices on the amicus brief which consists of three arguments:

  1. The contention that constant awareness of sex offenders due to the risk they pose to public safety is nonsense in that it is based on a supposition of high recidivism that is completely erroneous.

  2. Harm to the individual is incurred by such marking in that it severely inhibits his ability for community reentry, which is essential for rehabilitation.

  3. This method of identification of those with past sexual convictions is unnecessary, as ample other means are available by which those on the registry can be identified, and cruel, in that the heightened level of scrutiny increases the risk of vigilante activity and imposes a higher risk of danger to the individual and threat to public safety.

NARSOL is proud to participate in this important litigation and would like to thank OK Voices and the Appellate Advocacy Clinic at Wake Forest University for their assistance in making that possible.


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This post was written by someone, or multiple people, within NARSOL.

32 Thoughts to “NARSOL joins Tenth Circuit case challenging license requirement”

  1. AvatarJim

    Cheers to Ray Neal Carney for his willingness to take on this absurd law, and thanks to NARSOL for their efforts in joining this case. This is, of course, a case that could eventually have a much farther reach than just the state of Oklahoma, as there are other states who have placed such an unjust burden upon registered citizens. In so many ways state and federal laws regarding sex offenders have been written with complete disregard to the US Constitution, and based upon facts that are at least skewed, if not downright dishonestly misrepresented. It is a personal observation that many laws, at least on a state level, have been introduced by those whose records reveal a lack of meaningful legislation that works to genuinely​ benefit the citizens. Sex offender laws, being such a passionate topic, become the “ace in the hole” for such lawmakers because inflaming passions is an easy way to obtain support, and sex offenders are easy prey. Thank God there are at least judges in this land who are willing to listen, and courageous enough to stand for the truth and value of our constitution. Let us hope that shall continue, and increase, for apart from the courts there shall be no help forthcoming to rectify the plethora of unnecessary and damning laws against sex offenders.

    1. AvatarJerry

      You are right, Jim. Our hope is judges who do not have to look over their shoulder in an election every 2 or 4 years because of some self-serving, bigoted religious nut job who still follows the laws in the Old Testament and wants severe punishment for everyone, especially sex offenders, until it is their family member found guilty of a crime. It is these people who force weak-kneed politicians to succumb to creating unconstitutional sex offender laws under the guise that they are regulatory and not punishment.

      The 24/7 cable television media started this nonsense about sex offenders (and for that matter, super juvenile offenders) right after they were born in the early 1990s, which has made a lot of people like John Walsh very, very wealthy, and has fanned the flames of the “do as I say not as I do” Right Wing Crusaders who have more skeletons in their closets than a medical school. God forbid if an elected public official comes to reason that these sex offender laws have gotten out of hand. If he or she dares to introduce such a bill to eliminate or reduce the cruelty, you can bet if they are Republican, they will face opposition in their next primary by someone who will not hesitate to play the “I’m tougher on Crime” card and exploit the commonsense legislator right out of a job. If it is a Democrat, the entire Republican Party will be calling for his or her head.

      Collectively, with our families, NARSOL, friends, Catholic nuns, lawyers, psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists, and criminologists we can put an end to this nonsense that has gotten way out of hand since it was created in 1996. But it is going to have to take place in high courts, like all justice in this country has been won.

    2. AvatarMaestro

      If anyone followed the Old Testament, many of us wouldn’t be considered sex offenders.

      Also, since you mentioned the alt right, you might want to take a look at the whining brats on the far left. Those whack-a-dos who think smashing windows out of businesses and busting up parked cars and blocking traffic will get them their way….yeah….they’re not fond of sex offenders either.

      I think our only hope are those who identify as “independent”. They’re usually the ones more open to hearing ALL sides of an issue.

  2. AvatarT

    They want registrants to be labeled, and information exploited, so they can be targeted, and cutoff from society. The whole sex offender registry is just like the”war on drugs” that result in US mass incarceration.

  3. AvatarJ

    I really hope this happens. I live in Louisiana and have to have both a drivers license and ID card that have “Sex Offender” on the photo in bright red letters. I also have to renew them both every year. I do not ever write checks, or use any sort of debit/credit card whenever I go to any store because I might be asked for an ID. In five years, the only time I have ever shown my ID has been to open a bank account. The woman helping me got up from her desk and got a male clerk to help me instead. Then she stood with the other tellers and stared at me. I learned right then to never, ever put myself in a situation where anyone would ask for my ID. I thought a driver’s license was proof that I can drive a car. When did it become more than that? Is the checkout clerk at Walmart safer if I write a check and show her my SO ID versus me using cash? Louisiana has some awful laws regarding SO’s and I hope that someone will take action regarding these laws. For the record, I am a Tier 1 with an “attempted obscenity” charge. All of it is bogus, but I am stuck with it.

    1. FredFred

      This is truly horrific. I know how uncomfortable I get just receiving something in the mail that says “Sex Offender” from the State Police, and some people are walking around with IDs that say that.

      What is next? A patch to be worn on the outside of our clothing at all times? You can bet on that, as soon as they catch on to your method of always paying with cash to avoid showing your ID.

      Please lawmakers, tell us again how this is not cruel and unusual punish.

    2. AvatarJoe123

      It’s disgusting to hear such a ‘free country’ treating its citizens this way. You have finished your punishment. You should be treated as anyone else in the public. These moron, scum of the Earth lawmakers though, it just amazes me that laws like this pass. Someone should have filed a lawsuit by now to challenge this in your state.

    3. AvatarSounds like Bayou country fer sure

      Louisiana, Bible Belt, hypocrites? ‘Nuff Said

    4. AvatarMaestro

      I’d have opened my mouth and put that bank teller on blast. I’d have made her so ashamed of herself, she’d need to run to her “safe space” to pet a few puppies.
      When you allow people to shame YOU, then shame on you for allowing it to happen.
      You should have said: “I hope you don’t have male children who might one day make the mistake of dating a freshman when they’re seniors cuz you might wanna get up and move away from your own kid like you just did to me. But I’m sure you’re a feminist who claims she doesn’t need a man. Yet you went and got one. How cute.”

    5. AvatarJoshua Ferguson

      In Kansas we had similar ID requirements and markings. There was a red “registered offender” stamp at the bottom of the license. I learned quickly to only show my passport when I needed to show ID and if anyone asked what happened to my license I would tell them it was lost and I’m waiting for the replacement.

    6. AvatarJames

      J, You should make plans to move to another state or country.

  4. AvatarJeremy Heady

    I actually don’t agree with one of the arguments presented in the brief and I wish that argument was not presented by narsol. The last argument presents an alternative of using an identifying code on the back of the license. How long do you think it will take for not only the public to figure out what it means, but the news to report it? That alternative only delays the problem. The court probably never considered that alternative until it was presented. The other arguments have enough merit to stand alone. One argument that wasn’t presented though is to question how this law or the inappropriate alternative furthers the states interests. Are parents going to start asking everyone for their license? Are at risk children going to ask for id prior to being assaulted? This law has no justification at all.

    1. rwvnralrwvnral

      The arguments contained in the amicus brief were solicited by the counsel of record, Andrew Barr. When organizations are asked to submit amici briefs, it is a matter of decorum and courtesy that the arguments contained therein are not counter-productive and do not conflict, substantively, with the primary brief being submitted on behalf of the party properly before the court. NARSOL is not advancing an alternate identifying code as its preference, but is merely conceding that the alternative exists, is available to the Court as a remedy, and is surely less harmful to the bearers of state-issued ID’s than the words “sex offender” stamped across their photos. But, the main take-way here (and what NARSOL is learning as we proceed) is that nobody gets to argue whatever they want to argue in an amici setting. There is a lot of coordination, compromise, and a lot of moving parts to consider. The alternative is no amici at all (which is not a preferable option).

    2. AvatarJeremy Heady

      First of all, I appreciate what you do and what you are attempting to do with the amicus briefs you’ve submitted. The brief submitted in the Packingham case was spot on. In this case, I’m just concerned about how they are going to view such an alternative. Without saying it, offering an alternative gives credence to the state’s argument that this furthers a legitimate state interest to have an identifier on the license (it doesn’t). Any attorney that knows how to work the system is going to use this alternative against us in our fight against the IML because that’s exactly what we are fighting against is an identifier on passports. They are going to question why it’s ok to be put on a license, but not a passport. For this reason, I think I might have preferred no amici in this situation rather than the brief submitted as I believe it shoots us in the foot on a more important national argument.

      I am merely requesting that when briefs are submitted that we don’t offer compromising alternatives that are against what we stand for.

    3. rwvnralrwvnral

      I certainly appreciate your point, Jeremy. And had we had a chance to review the amicus before it was filed, we probably would have advised against it. But, that is one of the trade-offs we must make in an amicus environment. Once an attorney, or a clinic, agrees to pull a brief together on our behalf, we aren’t in a position to dictate the precise contours of the arguments put forth. That’s because the chief counsel (the attorney who is “of record” and in charge of the case in chief) becomes the architect of who he/she wants amici support from and what arguments those amici ought to advance. We are invited to offer insight and suggestions (and even provide research), but the timing is so short–and the amount of work necessary to be done so vast (and often being done by law students who, in this instance, were right smack in the middle of exams)–that we rarely get a chance to read over a brief before it gets filed. Nobody gets paid for amicus work. An attorney who agrees to sign a brief must be properly admitted before the court of record and must certify, in writing, that he/she has received no compensation for the work product. So, there’s also an economic reason why we lose control over the final work product.

      Again, your point is well taken and understood and I will be sure to communicate your concern to Prof. Korzen. This is a new area of advocacy for NARSOL which will take some time to mature. The only reason we got invited to submit an amicus in the Oklahoma case is because the attorney who was assigned the case by the Tenth Circuit just happened to notice our participation in the Packingham case. So, as we join more cases as amici curiae, our hope is to lift the credibility of NARSOL with attorneys and judges who are exposed to this area of litigation. Over time, and through building relationships and fostering trust, it will be easier for us to better serve the interests of our constituency. But the one must come before the other….and like any newcomer to the game, we have to play by the rules as we find them.

    4. AvatarJim

      Very good point Jeremy. There is no legitimate reason to place any sort of mark or code on a driver’s license or id. Any sort of identifier opens up a number of very negative possibilities for registered citizens, and already there are enough hoops to jump through. As long as “votes” are more important than fairness and justice the battles are going to be constant. That which is expedient usually outweighs that which is right when it concerns sex offender laws.

  5. AvatarThomas Darby

    Other States may have similar laws, although not so glaring as Oklahoma’s. Here in Tennessee, there is a tiny number “88” denoting registered sex offender, right next to the “10” on mine, for prescription glasses. It is simply a heads up for law enforcement, the only ones likely to notice that small number.

  6. AvatarMaestro

    I’ve got an idea, but everyone is too chicken shit to do this; DENY getting your license stamped with that SO identifier.
    How many registered citizens are in this country? 800,000+? Imagine the DOC actually having room for all of us.
    If they ever try this nonsense in CT before my registration is completed next September 2018, I’ll deny it. I’ll get arrested. But I’m only 1 person. Imagine THOUSANDS of us saying “Nope”.

    1. AvatarJim

      Maestro, you are absolutely correct that a united effort would go a long way in advancing the voice for relief from extremely unjust sex offender laws. However, you can rest assured there is always plenty of prison space for registered citizens. One of the things I have observed is that Rso’s are largely isolated, and just trying to survive. I can fully understand this, but we do need more united efforts if we are to be heard. At this point in time NARSOL may be our most potent weapon in getting heard, through their efforts in court cases. Those of us who support NARSOL should give great effort towards trying to get others to support them as well. There is reason for anger and frustration, but the militant voice of a great (and completely disregarded) minority will only bring a stronger hand of government against us. For now we must use reason, persistence, and patience. There is help to be found in the courts (perhaps) and it seems to me all of us ought to give our time and money (generously) to support those who can, and will, fight for us.

    2. AvatarMaestro

      Prisons might FIND a way to fit us all back in but the chance of that happening is highly unlikely.
      Imagine even having to arrest 800,000+ people. We’d all have our day in court on arraignment first. Can you imagine the backup of the courts that would cause? Wow!! They’d never be able to get to all their other cases like their DUI’s and murders and armed robberies.

      Even if a few thousand RSO’s joined together in just 1 State and protested this, they’re not going to arrest a few thousand people. And if they did, what exactly would the charge be? They’d have to make one up.

    3. FredFred

      The charge will be failure to comply with up to 4 years in prison for each count in my state. Every case makes money for the county, the state and the prison system. They will gladly arrest every one, backed up courts be damned.

    4. AvatarJoe123

      Registered Citizens needs to unite, because the mentality of “oh no US government, please leave me alone and let me just live my life quietly” does NOT work. It doesn’t work because we have morons in positions of authority, primarily being lawmakers and Prosecutors that are out to rack up their convictions points. We need strong lawyers like Janice Bellucci, ACLU (we really need them) as well as the good people of organizations like NARSOL, ACSOL, FAC, WAR and others. These groups have hundreds of active members, who represent the hundreds of thousands of registrants (slaves) in the USA. We must be a PART of all of them, donate, and write to lawmakers, regardless if you live in that respective state or not. I donate to all of these groups and write to lawmakers in these states. My opinion and ‘push’ is not restricted to just my state. Either we push back and take the registry down, or the punishments will get much worse.

    5. AvatarJim

      Joe123,. I absolutely agree. For some time I have myself just tried to live below the radar, and found it futile. It seems there are those who live to “bust” a registered citizen, and usually for some meaningless technical violation. There have been many “Lester Packinghams,” who have been imprisoned for nothing, for no good reason. Maestro is on the right track, as are you, that we must find a means to unite our voice. My only thoughts about it are that we need to do so in ways that are civil. We must not continue to be threatened and shamed into silence, but rather find a way to have our say. To sit in reclusive silence while unethical and grandstanding politicians continue to pass oppressive and debilitating laws will spell our doom. Passive submission will not work, nor will militant resistance. Our challenge is to find something between the two that will give us the means to work for the restoration of our rights.

    6. AvatarD D

      I Like this Idea! I have had it with this BS and life sucks so much now I don’t really have anything left to lose.

  7. AvatarNick

    Hope I missed it but shouldn’t their be a first amendment compelled speech argument made here?

    1. AvatarD D

      Beat me to it Nick it sure sounds like it, as well as a double Jeopardy violation because of it being additional punishment.

  8. AvatarRich

    Alabama puts “Criminal Sex Offender” in red letters on offender’s licenses. I don’t show mine unless it can’t be avoided. I hope this is struck down. I was in an at&t store and a young lady noticed the designation and a few minutes later I saw her use her finger to discretely flick my license in the trash. When finished she claimed she couldnt find it. I didnt want a scene so I let her pretend to look for it before I suggested she look in thr trash can.

    1. AvatarMike candela

      Alabama is a backwards, barbaric state, along with Louisiana!

  9. AvatarRajendra

    Oh, say! can you see by the devil’s bright light
    What so proudly they hailed all these unconstitutional last laws;
    Wearing broad stripes and bright color, with no human right,
    Inside the walls we watched were so many legally gnawed?
    And the licenses with red letters, the passports with unique identifiers,
    Gave proof through the night that our flag was no more:
    Oh, say! does that star-spangled banner we once waved
    O’er the land of the uninformed and the home of the cowards?

  10. AvatarArnold

    Florida has done this also, says “Sex Offender/Sexual Predator” on the right side of your lic.
    It sucks when your as me that required to go to auctions to buy stuff for my business, and have to show ID. I used to go to over 12 auctions a month, some local, some government ones. Now I can not go to government auctions cause they are normal on military bases and they wont let me in, so lost out on those. And a few of the local ones I was told”Sorry, but we don’t want your kind here”. And I have lost so much due to this.

    1. AvatarMaestro

      And yet the military is there to defend ALL Americans.
      This is truly disgusting. “Your kind”, see, we’ve got to start talking back to these POS.
      I’d have said; “oh, you mean as opposed to the ‘kind’ that got busted selling drugs to your kids? That would have been ok?”

  11. AvatarChris F

    In Texas we are the only ones to have a 1-year license, so everyone that knows that will look at you funny or deny service.

    I had to provide ID one time at a secure data facility to go to a job interview, and the security guard noticed and made a call and I was told my interview was cancelled and to please leave the premises.

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