In the Matter of Registrant G.H. In the Matter of Registrant G.A.
October 7, 2019
certification to the Superior Court, Appellate Division,
whose opinion is reported at 455 N.J.Super. 515 (App. Div.
R. Anderson, Deputy Attorney General, argued the cause for
appellant State of New Jersey (Gurbir S. Grewal, Attorney
General, attorney; Emily R. Anderson, of counsel and on the
Stephanie A. Lutz, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, argued
the cause for respondents G.H. and G.A. (Joseph E. Krakora,
Public Defender, attorney; Stephanie A. Lutz, of counsel and
on the briefs).
Katherine Haas argued the cause for amicus curiae American
Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (American Civil Liberties
Union of New Jersey Foundation, attorneys; Katherine Haas,
Liza Weisberg, Alexander Shalom, and Jeanne LoCicero, on the
Michael C. Woyce argued the cause for amicus curiae
Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of New Jersey (Murphy
& Woyce, attorneys; Michael C. Woyce, on the brief).
these consolidated appeals, the Court considers whether an
amendment to Megan's Law applies retroactively.
G.H. and G.A. both pleaded guilty to offenses that required
them to register for life under Megan's Law. At the time
of their pleas, they would have been eligible to apply for
relief from lifetime registration years later, under
subsection (f) of N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2, if certain conditions were
the entry of both pleas, the Legislature enacted subsection
(g) of N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2. The new law barred registrants like
G.H. and G.A., who had been convicted of more than one sex
offense, of aggravated sexual assault, or of sexual assault,
as defined, from applying to terminate their registration
requirements under subsection (f).
trial courts in this case applied subsection (g)
retroactively. The Appellate Division reversed. 455
N.J.Super. 515, 538 (App. Div. 2018).
that statutes are generally applied prospectively, the
Appellate Division first considered whether there was any
indication of legislative intent that subsection (g) should
apply retroactively. Id. at 531-34. The court
observed that "the Legislature did not explicitly
provide that subsection (g) applied retroactively" and
found no implied intent of retroactive application in the
legislative history of Megan's Law or subsection (g).
Ibid. The court added that "[a] statute also
may be applied retroactively if it is 'curative' . .
. or if the parties' expectations warrant retroactive
application" but found those "categories of
potential retroactive application" inapplicable in this
case. Id. at 531 n.5. Finally, the Appellate
Division explained that, in light of its finding as to
legislative intent, it did not need to reach the additional
considerations of whether applying subsection (g)
retroactively would interfere unconstitutionally with vested
rights or work a manifest injustice, id. at 534, but
it addressed those issues "for the sake of
completeness," id. at 534-38.
Like the Appellate Division, the Court finds no statement of
legislative intent, express or implied, that subsection (g)
should be applied retroactively. Nor does it find that
subsection (g) was curative, or that the parties'
expectations warranted retroactive application.
judgment of the Appellate Division is affirmed and the matter
is remanded to the trial court.
JUSTICE RABNER and JUSTICES LaVECCHIA, ALBIN, PATTERSON,