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California Sex Offender Registration not Constructive Custody for Habeas Purposes

David Stier, a physician and California state sex offender registrant, pled guilty to taking indecent liberties with a child in North Carolina in 2000. After Stier moved to California he completed a two-year probationary period ordered by the North Carolina court and registered as a sex offender as required by California law.

A 2003 amendment to Cal. Business and Professional Code § 2232 required the Medical Board (Board) to revoke the licenses of all doctors required to register as sex offenders, and after the Board revoked Stier's license he challenged its right to do so in a state habeas action. The Attorney General’s office didn't contest the habeas action but appealed the trial court's grant of habeas relief to Stier.

On appeal, the Court of Appeal of California, 1st Appellate District, Division 1, recognized that ordinarily the state's failure to contest a habeas action would foreclose its appeal therefrom. However, it also found that Stier's status as a registered sex offender didn't render him in constructive custody, and since he wasn't in custody the trial court was without jurisdiction to consider his habeas petition. Since the trial court had acted without jurisdiction, the state's appeal was allowed and granted. The case was remanded to the trial court with instructions to allow Stier to file the case as a mandamus action. See: In re Stier, 152 Cal.App.4th 63, 61 Cal.Rptr.3d 181 (Cal.App. 1 Dist., 2007).

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Related legal case

In re Stier