Sex Offenders Can Be Prohibited from Bar Association, Rules Kentucky Supreme Court

In the first case of its kind,
the Supreme
Court of Kentucky
has upheld a ruling that probihits one man
from taking the state bar exam because he is a registered sex

Despite graduating high in his law school class and receiving an
endorsement from the law firm for which he works, Guy Padraic
Hamilton-Smith is forbidden by the Kentucky Office of Bar
Admissions from even taking the test that could allow him to
practice law. The office believes that Hamilton-Smith’s status as a
registered sex offender as justification enough for keeping him

to the Associated Press (AP), the Kentucky
Office of Bar Admissions director Elizabeth Feamster contended that
“the seriousness of the charge as well as Hamilton-Smith’s
acknowledgement of sexual addiction and ‘destructive and harmful
behaviors when it comes to sex and sexuality.’ Also, law school
students are warned early in their legal education that behavioral
issues could exclude them from being admitted to the bar.”

The bar association hoped that the court would not only rule
against Hamilton-Smith, but also affirm a rule that would ban all
sex offenders from admittance to the bar. The court struck down the
latter, stating that it would prefer each convict be dealt with on
a case-by-case basis.

In 2007, Hamilton-Smith was convicted
for possession of matter portraying a sexual performance of a
minor. Hamilton-Smith’s attorney, Scott White, argues that although
his client may be a “sex addict,” he is facing harsh treatment for
a mistake. The case is a “classic example is somebody who just
downloads buckets of pornography. In that download, there just
happened to be child pornography,” White said, explaining that
Hamilton-Smith participates in Sex Addicts Anonymous and has never
repeated his child porn crime. Likewise, he said that
Hamilton-Smith wanted to make his education and legal career part
of his rehabilitation. Hamilton-Smith’s career prospects will
likely be severely limited at least until 2027, when his name will
be taken off the sex offender registry.

The case raises questions about the
appropriate punishments
for sex criminals.

Shelley Stow of the advocacy group Reform Sex Offender Laws told
the AP that penalties often outweigh crimes. “It is so difficult
for registrants to even get jobs and support themselves and
function day to day, let alone pursue a law career,” she said.

Reason‘s Jacob Sullum has previously argued
that “policies regarding sex offenders mark them as a special
category of criminals for whom no stigma is too crippling, no
regulations are too restrictive, and no penalty is too severe. This
attitude, driven by fear and outrage, is fundamentally irrational,
and so are its results, which make little sense in terms of justice
or public safety.”

For other sex-crime stories in which the punishment outweighed
the crime, read about one man who is fighting to be removed from a
registry after having
consensual sex
with his to-be wife, a man who was subjected to
examinations of
his erections
, and a teen who
killed himself
for fear of ending up on a registry after

from Hit & Run

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