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Crimes Against Nature by Solicitation (CANS) Litigation

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Synopsis

Doe, et al. v. Jindal, et al. was a federal lawsuit filed against state officials in Louisiana, challenging the fact that a Crime Against Nature by Solicitation (CANS) conviction requires registration as a sex offender on the state sex offender registry.  On March 29, 2012, the Court ruled in Plaintiffs’ favor, agreeing that this registration requirement violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Doe, et al. v. Caldwell, et al. is a federal class action lawsuit seeking to remove from the sex offender registry the hundreds of people who are still forced to register solely as a result of a CANS conviction despite the March 29, 2012 ruling in Doe v. Jindal that deemed that practice unconstitutional.

If you are registered as a sex offender in the State of Louisiana solely because of a Crime Against Nature by Solicitation conviction, please see this Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) sheet.

Status

On June 27th CCR followed up the Doe v. Jindal case by filing Doe v. Caldwell Doe v. Caldwell is a federal class action lawsuit seeking to remove from the Sex Offender Registry the hundreds of people who are still forced to register due solely to a Crimes Against Nature by Solicitation (CANS) conviction.  On March 29, 2012 the Court unambiguously ruled that it is unconstitutional to require someone to register as a sex offender solely because of a CANS conviction. To date, almost 500 people remain on the Louisiana sex offender registry because of a CANS conviction, despite the Court’s ruling.

On August 17, 2012, defendants filed a motion to dismiss our lawsuit.  On September 18, 2012, plaintiffs opposed that motion to dismiss, and moved for summary judgment as well as class certification.  The briefing on these motions appears below.

On December 19, 2012, a hearing was held on defendants’ motion to dismiss. The Court denied defendants’ motion from the bench, and issued a written decision.  Supplementary briefing on plaintiffs’ motions for summary judgment and class certification is underway, and will be heard by the court on April 10, 2013.

Description

In Louisiana, people accused of soliciting sex for a fee can be criminally charged in two ways: either under the prostitution statute, or under the solicitation provision of the Crime Against Nature statute.  This archaic statute, adopted in 1805, outlaws “unnatural carnal copulation,” which has been defined by Louisiana courts as oral and anal (but not vaginal) sex.  Police and prosecutors have unfettered discretion in choosing which to charge.  But a Crime Against Nature conviction subjects people to far harsher penalties than a prostitution conviction.  Most significantly, individuals convicted of a Crime Against Nature are forced to register as sex offenders.

The registry law imposes many harsh requirements that impacts every aspect of our clients’ lives.  For example, they must carry a state driver’s license or non-drivers’ identification document which brands them as a sex offender in bright orange capital letters.  They must disclose the fact that they are registered as a sex offender to neighbors, landlords, employers, schools, parks, community centers, and churches.  Their names, address, and photographs appear on the internet. 

Many of our clients have been unable to secure work or housing as a result of their registration as sex offenders.  Several have been barred from homeless shelters.  One has been physically threatened by neighbors.  And another has been refused residential substance abuse treatment because providers will not accept sex offenders at their facilities.

Our clients are not alone in being forced to register as sex offenders solely as a result of a Crime Against Nature by Solicitation conviction.  Indeed, almost 40 percent of registered sex offenders in Orleans Parish are on the registry as a result of such a conviction.  76 percent of these individuals are women, and 80 percent of them are African American.

CCR argues that being forced to register as a sex offender because of a Crime Against Nature conviction serves no legitimate purpose whatsoever.  As such, it is unjustifiable and unconstitutional.  CCR further contends that the only reason our clients are registered sex offenders is that they were convicted under the provisions of a 200-year-old statute that condemns non-procreative sex acts and sex acts traditionally associated with homosexuality, solely on grounds of moral disapproval. 

CCR filed the lawsuit along with the Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice at Loyola University College of Law, and Andrea J. Ritchie, Esq.

To learn more about this issue, visit the Women with a Vision website and its No Justice campaign website.


Multimedia

icon_sound_256Audio Feature

On February 16, 2011 a teleconference was held in New Orleans at the offices of Women with a Vision to coincide with the filing of Doe v. Jindal.

Plaintiffs Ian Doe, Eve Doe, and Hiroke Doe described their experiences of being forced to register as a sex offender because of a Crime Against Nature conviction.

To hear about Ian Doe's experience, click on the play button below

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To hear about Eve Doe's experience, click on the play button below

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To hear about Hiroke Doe's experience, click on the play button below

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Deon Haywood, executive director of Women with a Vision, spoke about her work with women affected by the Crime Against Nature statute in New Orleans.

Hear from Deon Haywood by clicking the play button below

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CCR staff attorney Alexis Agathocleous, and co-counsel Andrea J. Ritchie, described Doe v. Jindal.

Hear from attorney Alexis Agathocleous by clicking the play button below

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Hear from co-counsel Andrea J. Ritchie by clicking the play button below

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Timeline

February 16, 2011 - CCR files complaint in the Eastern District of Louisiana on behalf of nine plaintiffs who have been forced to register as sex offenders as a result of a Crime Against Nature conviction.

April and May 2011 - Defendants moved to dismiss the lawsuit

June 14, 2011 - CCR filed briefs in opposition to the motions to dismiss.

June 23, 2011 - An amicus brief was filed on Plaintiffs’ behalf by BreakOUT! (a project of the Juvenile Justice Project of Lousiana), Lamda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.

August 10, 2011 - Oral argument on the motion to dismiss took place before Judge Feldman. At argument, Judge Feldman ordered all parties to submit supplemental briefs, which were filed on August 17. These briefs are all available below.

September 7, 2011 - Judge Feldman denied Defendants’ motion to dismiss in part, and granted it in part. The Court’s decision appears below.

October 17, 2011 - Defendants filed an Answer to the Complaint.

October 31, 2011 - Plaintiffs moved for Summary Judgment.  That motion is posted below.

March 28, 2012 - Oral argument on Summary Judgment motion took place in front of Judge Feldman.

March 29, 2012 - The Court granted Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment, finding a violation of their rights under the equal protection clause of the federal constitution. Click here to read the decision.

June 27, 2012- CCR followed up the Doe v. Jindal case by filing Doe v. CaldwellDoe v. Caldwell is a federal class action lawsuit seeking to remove from the Sex Offender Registry the hundreds of people who are still forced to register due solely to a Crimes Against Nature by Solicitation (CANS) conviction.

December 19, 2012 - a hearing was held on defendants’ motion to dismiss in Doe v. Caldwell. The Court denied defendants’ motion from the bench, and issued a written decision. Supplementary briefing on plaintiffs’ motions for summary judgment and class certification is underway, and will be heard by the court on April 10, 2013.