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Florida Appeal Court Approves Weekly Check-Ins for Homeless Sex Offenders

| June 10, 2013

John Luther Goodman III is serving a six-year prison term for failing to register properly as a sex offender with the Bay County Sheriff's Office.

John Luther Goodman III is serving a six-year prison term for failing to register properly as a sex offender with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.

In a case that may have ramifications beyond the Florida Panhandle, where it originated, a state appeals court Monday approved a Bay County Sheriff’s Office policy that requires homeless registered sex offenders to report by 10 a.m. each Monday about where, through a detailed log, they expect to spend the next seven nights.

John Luther Goodman III, who was convicted in 1989 in the sexual assault of a child, challenged the legality of the policy after violating the requirements. With an exception in November 2010, Goodman has generally complied with the twice-yearly requirements of registering his whereabouts, according to court papers. His driver’s license lists him as a transient, with a general delivery address. The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal said the check-in policy applies to “perpetually itinerant” sex offenders within Bay County–that is, homeless individuals.

It rejected Goodman’s arguments that the policy improperly went beyond requirements in state law. The court acknowledged state law does not specifically authorize the check-in requirements. “But the statute clearly envisions that sheriff’s offices must establish some protocols by which a transient registered offender presents himself in person and provides locational information,” the ruling said. “We must therefore determine whether the policy is in accord with the statute. While Goodman claims the policy at issue is excessive, it is not.”

The unanimous decision was written by Judge Scott Douglas Makar, appointed by Gov. Rick Scott last year, and was joined by Judge William A. Van Nortwick Jr., appointed by Lawton Chiles, and Judge Lori Rowe, a Charlie Crist appointee, who concurred in the results only, not the reasoning.

The Bay County Sheriff’s Office policy states: “All transient sexual offenders and predators will provide a written weekly location log ‘prior’ to staying at their listed locations each Monday morning, no later then [sic] 10:00 am [sic]. If the offender or predator declares the transient status during the work week (after Monday), they will provide a written list of locations through the following Monday prior to staying at them.”

The policy also specifies: “Officers should be able to locate you by the log you provide for your transient locations. Your log should reflect the date, location address, type of location, vehicle information (if applicable). If your log reflects you to be at one location and you have to leave that location, new location information should be provided to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, forwarded to the Crime Analysis Unit 248-2076 or 248-2083 prior to the move.”

Goodman has been in and out of prisons and jails since 1988. He was convicted of lewd and lascivious and indecent assault on a child younger than 16 in 1989 and was sentenced to 15 years in prison, serving a few years less than that. He was charged with failure to appear in person and provide the required information at the Sheriff’s Office from June 29, 2010, to September 6, 2010. He moved to dismiss the charge, arguing that the policy’s burdens exceeded those the statute imposed. A jury convicted him on March 29, 2012, and he was sentenced to 75.9 months in prison, or just over six years. He is imprisoned at the Graceville prison in the Panhandle, near the Alabama border. He is scheduled to be released on Nov. 19, 2017, pending various reviews.

See the First District Court of Appeal’s decision below.

–FlaglerLive and News Service of Florida

John Luther Goodman v. Florida, Sex Offender Registry

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10 Responses for “Florida Appeal Court Approves Weekly Check-Ins for Homeless Sex Offenders”

  1. Robert Curtis says:

    This is sadly a horrible miscarriage of justice. This man had such heavy requirements put upon him that any reasonable person with those same punitive measure would have at sometime violated. These ever intensive requirements are by their design meant to have people like this homeless man be in violation and sent back to prison. This is a sad and dishonorable reflection on our judicial system, our government and the people of this country that would allow such of it’s society. I am ashamed of not this man but of those that would harm someone just because they’re homeless. Don’t be heartless and say well he’s a registered sex offender and who care good thing he’s out of society’s way. I’m a registered sex offender that has received a US Congressional award for helping cancer patients and the homeless last year. So, despite popular belief change is the only constant and even registered citizens deserve a second chance. These kind of policies and laws hurt us all. Why because no one lives in a bottle in some way our very soul is tied to this kind of action. I’m shocked that our churches aren’t up in arms over this kind of thing? Well, maybe that too is telling in and of itself.

  2. LAMarshall says:

    This is insane. A homeless person does not know, with any degree of certainty, where he will be for each of the next seven days. To require knowledge of something which can’t be known is not sane.

  3. Betty says:

    I am not saying this man is not a loser criminal but HOW does a homeless person know where he/she will be staying from one night to the next. Are the police going to start hiking thru the woods and swamps looking for homeless camps ? Makes little sense !

  4. Nancy N. says:

    Robert Curtis is correct – this measure is punitive and designed solely to create terms that are impossible to meet so that it provides an excuse to lock the sex offenders up again.

  5. Anonymous says:

    To know where you will be for the next 7 days is a little hard, especially for a homeless person. On the other hand I do believe a homeless registered sex offender should have to check in more than twice a year.

  6. Ogreagain says:

    Maybe it should be all sex offenders should check in every week. twice a year is kinda laxed..

  7. stephen says:

    I hope this guy appeals this ruling.

  8. ryan says:

    Now, now, let’s not make a pedophile sound like a victim. pedophiles should not even be out on the streets, as they have no place in society. They shouldn’t even be alive and they need to be left to advocate for themselves. I am so sick of people who molest children and those that advocate for them.

    • td777 says:

      Personally, I am so sick of judgmental people who believe no one can change. The fact is you made such a generalized statement and you don’t know the details of his case in full. Are you aware that if an underage girl makes an advance on an older man, even if he resists, the man can be charged and likely convicted? “shouldn’t even be alive?” What gives you the right to say someone should die for something when you don’t know all the details?

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