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The State of Ohio v. Bruce E. Henthorn Jr

October 25, 2011

THE STATE OF OHIO, APPELLEE,
v.
BRUCE E. HENTHORN JR., APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Ashland County Court of Common Pleas Case No. 08-CIV-086

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Delaney, J.

Cite as

State v. Henthorn,

CHARACTER OF PROCEEDING:

JUDGMENT:

DATE OF JUDGMENT ENTRY:

JUDGES: Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P.J. Hon. William B. Hoffman, J. Hon. Patricia A. Delaney, J.

OPINION

{¶1} Defendant-Appellant, Bruce E. Henthorn, appeals from the judgment of the Ashland County Court of Common Pleas, classifying him as a Tier III sex offender, when he had previously been declared to be a sexually oriented offender. The State of Ohio is Plaintiff-Appellee.

{¶2} In 1999, Appellant pled guilty to one count of sexual battery, a felony of the first degree, in violation of R.C. 2907.03(A)(4). He was sentenced to 14 months in prison and was classified, by operation of law, as a sexually oriented offender. No reclassification hearing was held, therefore, Appellant's classification was by operation of law. See former Ohio Revised Code Chapter 2950.

{¶3} In 2007, Senate Bill 10, also known as the Adam Walsh Act "(AWA") reorganized the classification of sexually oriented offenders. See R.C. 2950.031 and R.C. 2950.032. At that time, the legislature designated the duty of reorganizing Ohio's sex offender classification based on conviction alone. Based on the level of offense, offenders were classified as either Tier I, Tier II, or Tier III offenders, with Tier III being the most serious of offenders who are required to register for life and to register every ninety days, among other restrictions.

{¶4} Appellant was still serving his ten year sex offender registration requirements pursuant to the previous sex offender law, known as Megan's law, in 2007. Pursuant to Senate Bill 10, Appellant was reclassified as a Tier III offender based on his conviction of sexual battery. Specifically, on December 8, 2007, Appellant received a Notice of New Classification and Registration Duties, based on S.B. 10, from the Office of Ohio Attorney General, informing him of his reclassification.

{¶5} On January 7, 2008, Appellant filed a petition with the Ashland County Court of Common Pleas to challenge his reclassification pursuant to R.C. 2950.031(E). In his Petition, Appellant argued that the State's reclassification was improper and unconstitutional. Specifically, Appellant raised four issues: (1) the retroactive application of Ohio's Adam Walsh Act violated the prohibition on ex post facto laws in Article I, Section 10 of the United States Constitution; (2) the retroactive application of Ohio's Adam Walsh Action violates the prohibition on retroactive laws in Article II, Section 28 of the Ohio Constitution; (3) reclassification of the Petitioner constitutes a violation of the separation of powers doctrine; and (4) reclassification of Petitioner constitutes impermissible multiple punishment under the double jeopardy clauses of the United States and Ohio Constitution.

{ΒΆ6} The State filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Civ.R. 12(B)(1), (2), (4), (5), and (7) on February 8, 2008. The State argued that Appellant's Petition to Contest Reclassification constituted a defective declaratory judgment action under R.C. 2721.12 rather than a statutory petition to contest reclassification under R.C. 2950.031(E) and R.C. 2950.032(E). Because Appellant brought a constitutional challenge to S.B. 10, the State argued the trial court should consider Appellant's petition to be a declaratory judgment action and as such, Appellant was required to follow the procedural mandates thereof. In its motion, the State contended in part that the trial court lacked ...


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