United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
JONATHAN R. MEREDITH Plaintiff,
JOSHUA STEIN, Attorney General of the State of North Carolina, in his official capacity, BOB SCHURMEIER, Director of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, in his official capacity, and MICHAEL D. WATERS, District Attorney of Franklin County, North Carolina, in his official capacity, Defendants.
TERRENCE W. BOYLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on defendants' motion to
dismiss [DE 14] and motion to stay discovery and other
pretrial proceedings. [DE 21]. The matters have been fully
briefed and are ripe for ruling. A hearing was held before
the undersigned in Elizabeth City, North Carolina on April
10, 2018. For the following reasons, both motions are denied.
Jonathan Meredith was convicted in Washington State of
"Communication with a Minor for Immoral Purposes"
in 2004. He then moved to North Carolina. According to
plaintiff, when establishing residency here, the Person
County Sheriffs office informed him he did not need to
register as a sex offender. The standard for whether an
individual convicted of an out-of-state sex offense must
register as a sex offender in North Carolina is whether the
offense was substantially similar to an offense under North
Carolina law that would require registration. N.C. G.S.
§ 14-208.6(4)(b)-(c). The determination is made by
individual sheriffs deputies in the potential
registrant's county of residency. That information is
then provided to the SBI official who maintains the list of
registrants. Registered sex offenders face significant
restrictions in going about their daily lives. E.g.,
N.C. G.S. § 14-208.18(a)(3) (Those registered cannot go
to libraries, arcades, amusement parks, recreation parks, and
swimming pools). Failure to register when required to by law
is a felony, and there is no procedure to challenge being
required to register. N.C. G.S. § 14-208.11(a).
years after plaintiff moved to North Carolina, the Wake
County Sheriffs office, where he now lived, informed him he
did in fact need to register. After registering, plaintiff
filed this lawsuit, claiming that the mechanism by which
those convicted of out-of-state sex offenses are placed on
the North Carolina registry violates his procedural due
process rights. Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive
relief. A few months later, plaintiff was removed from the
sex offender registry. Defendants have now moved to dismiss
have moved to dismiss on three grounds, pursuant to Rules
12(b)(1), (2) and (6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. They argue the case is moot, there is no
personal jurisdiction over the defendants, and that plaintiff
has failed to state a claim.
have first moved to dismiss for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction, arguing that plaintiff lacks standing because
the case is moot. Mootness and standing are related, yet
distinct concepts. Friends of the Earth, Inc. v.
Laidlaw, 528 U.S. 167, 189 (2000). A case is moot when
there is no longer a case or controversy to be resolved by
the court. Already, LLC v. Nike, /«c, 568 U.S.
85, 91 (2013).
argue that since plaintiff is no longer on the North Carolina
Sex Offender Registry, the case has been mooted. But
"voluntary cessation of a challenged practice does not
deprive a federal court of its power to determine the
legality of the practice." City of Mesquite v.
Aladdin's Castle, Inc., 455 U.S. 283, 289 (1982). If
it did, a defendant could freely engage in unconstitutional
activity, as long as he took temporary breaks whenever a
lawsuit was filed. Id. at 289 n.10;
Laidlaw, 528 U.S. at 189. Because of this concern, a
case is only mooted when "subsequent events ma[k]e it
absolutely clear that the allegedly wrongful behavior [can]
not reasonably be expected to recur." United States
v. Concentrated Phosphate Export Assn., 393 U.S. 199,
203 (1968). A defendant claiming its voluntary action makes a
case moot bears a "formidable burden" in
demonstrating this. Laidlaw, 528 U.S. at 189.
to defendants, this case is moot because plaintiff was
removed from the registry. The removal happened after the
instant suit was filed, and defendants have not explained why
plaintiff was removed. They have provided nothing to indicate
that plaintiff could not be required to register again in the
future, either by the Sheriff of the county in which he
currently resides or another county to which he could move in
the future. For these reasons, defendants' motion to
dismiss on the grounds of mootness is denied.
defendants have moved to dismiss on the grounds that
plaintiff lacks personal jurisdiction over the defendants. A
plaintiff bears the burden of showing, by a preponderance of
the evidence, that there is 12(b)(2) jurisdiction. Myla ...