UNLV Law Blog

UNLVLaw Admissions | Academics | Centers and Programs | Faculty | Careers | Library

UNLV Law Blog

An online community for collaboration on legal policy, practice and academics

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Nevada Supreme Court Applies Full Faith and Credit Clause in Sex Offender Registration Case

By Professor Thomas B. McAffee

In Donlan v. State, 249 P.3d 1231 (Nev. 2011), Eugene W. Donlan filed a petition in district court to terminate his requirement to register as a sex offender. The Nevada Supreme Court upheld the district court's denial of Donlan's petition, rejecting his argument that the Full Faith and Credit Clause (U.S. Const. Art. IV, § 1) requires Nevada to recognize California's termination of his sex offender registration requirement.

In 1985, Donlan plead guilty to a sex offense, which required him to register as a sex offender in California. The conviction was eventually set aside. Since 1986 Donlan registered as a sex offender in California and Nevada, in Nevada since moving here in 2005. In July of 2009, the California Department of Justice terminated his registration requirement. But in September of 2009 the district court denied his petition to terminate his Nevada registration duty.

The Nevada Supreme Court held that an executive branch administrative decision was not a final court judgment, and public acts or records do not "require a State to apply another State's law in violation of its own legitimate state policy" (quoting, Nevada v. Hall, 40 U.S. 410, 421-22 (1979)). Consequently "[California] has no authority to dictate to [Nevada] the manner in which it can best protect its citizenry from those convicted of sex offenses" (quoting, Rosin v. Monken, 599 F.3d 474, 577 (7th Cir. 2010)). And "Nevada is free to protect its populace from individuals convicted of sex offense by enforcing its own registration requirements." One might question whether it is good public policy in Nevada to require registration for a sex offense conviction under the circumstances presented here, but that is a policy decision for the legislature; the Court's holding on the scope of the Full Faith and Credit Clause is clearly the right decision.