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Corzine v. Laxalt

United States District Court, D. Nevada

July 25, 2017




         I. SUMMARY

         Plaintiff Matthew Corzine (“Corzine”) is suing various Nevada state officials in their official capacities, alleging that aspects of Nevada's program of lifetime supervision violate the state and federal constitutions. Before the Court are Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 10) and Corzine's Motion for a Preliminary Injunction (ECF No. 26.) The Court has reviewed the parties' respective responses and replies. (ECF Nos. 25, 29, 30, 34.) The Court also granted Corzine's Emergency Motion Seeking an Expedited Hearing and Ruling (ECF No. 35) and held a hearing on July 11, 2017 (ECF No. 40). After the hearing, the Court directed the parties to file supplemental briefing on two issues. (ECF No. 42.) The Court has reviewed the supplemental briefs. (ECF Nos. 43, 44.) For the reasons discussed below, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is granted in part and denied in part, and Corzine's Motion for a Preliminary Injunction is granted in part and denied in part.


         A. Corzine's Sentence

         The parties, for the most part, agree on the underlying facts. Corzine was charged with six counts of sexual assault on July 22, 2005, for crimes he committed in 2004. He pled guilty to five counts of attempted sexual assault and was sentenced to 36 to 120 months on one count and 24 to 120 months on each remaining count. (ECF No. 5 at 11.) The sentencing court also imposed a special sentence of lifetime supervision “to commence upon release from any term of imprisonment, probation or parole” and ordered Corzine to register as a sex offender in accordance with NRS § 179D.460 within 48 hours of release from custody. (ECF No. 10-1 at 2-3.)

         Corzine was paroled on November 28, 2016, after serving 11 years in prison. (ECF No 25-1 at 4.) Before he was released, Corzine transferred his parole to California through the Interstate Compact for the Supervision of Adult Offenders (“Interstate Compact”) - a mechanism through which states “manage the movement between states of adults placed under community supervision and released to the community under the jurisdiction of courts, paroling authorities, corrections or other criminal justice agencies.” NRS § 213.215. Corzine completed his parole in California, where he currently resides, in May 2017. (Id. at 5.)

         On May 13, 2017, he appeared before the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners (“Parole Board”), the body that sets conditions of lifetime supervision. The Parole Board imposed a monthly fee of $30, which was subject to a waiver for economic hardship, and three residency restrictions: (1) Corzine may only reside at a residence if it has been approved by his parole and probation officers; (2) he may not reside at a residence that houses three or more persons that have been released from prison unless it is a licensed transitional living facility; and (3) he must keep his parole and probation officers informed of his current address.[1] (ECF No. 29-1.)

         However, because Corzine is living in California, and, he alleges, because of a legislative change made by Nevada in 2005 (discussed further below), Corzine is not simply subject to the lifetime supervision requirements imposed by the Parole Board. Instead, he is subjected to a long list of parole restrictions imposed by the State of California. (ECF No. 26-12.) California's parole supervision includes elements like a GPS ankle bracelet, warrantless searches, and polygraph examinations. (ECF No. 26-1 at 7.) Corzine must comply with these conditions as long as he resides in California. Many of these restrictions do not appear in the list of conditions the Nevada Parole Board may impose under NRS § 213.1243.

         B. Lifetime Supervision

         In 1995, Nevada began imposing a special sentence of lifetime supervision on certain offenders. NRS § 176.0931 instructs courts to include lifetime supervision in the sentence of a defendant convicted of a sexual offense. Lifetime supervision begins after an offender is released from probation, imprisonment, or parole. It is governed by NRS § 213.1243, which in 2004, when Corzine committed the relevant crimes, provided:

1. The Board shall establish by regulation a program of lifetime supervision of sex offenders to commence after any period of probation or any term of imprisonment and any period of release on parole. The program must provide for the lifetime supervision of sex offenders by parole and probation officers.
2. Lifetime supervision shall be deemed a form of parole for the limited purposes of the applicability of the provisions of NRS 213.1076, subsection 9 of NRS 213.1095, NRS 213.1096 and subsection 2 of NRS 213.110.
3. A person who violates a condition imposed on him pursuant to the program of lifetime supervision is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 6 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $5, 000.

         Thus, the statute did not list any specific conditions of supervision. Rather, it delegated the authority to design the lifetime supervision program to the Parole Board. At the time, the Parole Board required offenders under lifetime supervision to, among other things, obtain permission before leaving the state, obtain a supervising officer's approval for the location of the offender's residence, submit to polygraph examinations, and submit to warrantless searches. (See ECF No. 44-1; Palmer v. State, 59 P.3d 1192, 1196 (Nev. 2002) (listing common restrictions).)

         In 2007, the statute was amended by Senate Bill 354 (“SB 354”) and Senate Bill 471 (“SB 471”) to include a number of specific conditions that Courts “shall” impose, including the following condition, which was eventually applied to Corzine:

3. Except as otherwise provided in subsection 4, the Board shall require as a condition of lifetime supervision that the sex offender reside at a location only if:
(a) The residence has been approved by the parole and probation officer assigned to the person.
(b) If the residence is a facility that houses more than three persons who have been released from prison, the facility is a facility for transitional living for released offenders that is licensed pursuant to chapter 449 of NRS.
(c) The person keeps the parole and probation officer informed of his current address.

         2007 Nevada Laws Ch. 418 (S.B. 354); 2007 Nevada Laws Ch. 528 (S.B. 471).

         In 2016, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that the Parole Board could not impose conditions beyond those listed in NRS § 213.1243. McNeill v. State, 375 P.3d 1022, 1025 (Nev. 2016).

         C. The Interstate Compact

         In 2001, Nevada passed legislation adopting the Interstate Compact, which in turn became active in June of 2002, after it had been accepted by 35 states. See 2001 Nevada Laws Ch. 460 (S.B. 194).[2] The Interstate Compact is an agreement among states to work together to supervise offenders who are “under the jurisdiction of courts, paroling authorities, corrections or other criminal justice agencies.” NRS § 2113.215. It applies, for example, if an offender from Nevada would like to move to California to live with family while on parole. The state receiving an offender is required to supervise him or her “consistent with the supervision of other similar offenders sentenced in the receiving state, including the use of incentives, corrective actions, graduated responses, and other supervision techniques.” Interstate Compact Rule 4.101.[3] Furthermore, Rule 4.103 provides:

(a) At the time of acceptance or during the term of supervision, the receiving state may impose a condition on an offender if that condition would have been imposed on an offender sentenced in the receiving state.
(b) A receiving state shall notify a sending state that it intends to impose, or has imposed, a condition on the offender.
(c) A sending state shall inform the receiving state of any conditions to which the offender is subject at the time the request for transfer is made or at any time thereafter.
(d) A receiving state that is unable to enforce a condition imposed in the sending state shall notify the sending state of its inability to enforce a condition at the time of request for transfer of supervision is made.[4]

         Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision, ICAOS Rules 4.103 (2017).

         In 2005, to ensure that other states would be willing to accept Nevada offenders under the Interstate Compact, the legislature amended NRS § 213.1243 and mandated that lifetime supervision would be deemed a form of parole for “[t]he purposes of the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision ratified, enacted and entered into by the State of Nevada pursuant to NRS § 213.215.” Senate Bill 341 (“SB 341”).

         Corzine argues, among other things, that changing the definition of lifetime supervision to parole for the purposes of the Interstate Compact amounts to a retroactive increase in his sentence, and therefore a violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution. He further argues that the Nevada Supreme Court's decision in McNeill essentially renders lifetime supervision before the legislature added specific conditions to NRS § 213.1243 unenforceable.


         Defendants ask the Court to dismiss Corzine's Complaint in its entirety. They argue that Corzine has failed to identify any state action subject to suit under 18 U.S.C. § 1983, that he has failed to name the proper defendants, and that his claims fail as a matter of law.

         A. ...

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