BILLY S. JEFFRIES APPELLANT
JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY CABINET and COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY APPELLEES
FROM FRANKLIN CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE THOMAS D. WINGATE,
JUDGE ACTION NO. 17-CI-01302
FOR APPELLANT: Timothy G. Arnold
FOR APPELLEES: Graham Gray, Aaron Ann Cole
BEFORE: GOODWINE, LAMBERT, AND MAZE, JUDGES.
S. Jeffries has appealed from the order of the Franklin
Circuit Court denying his motion for summary judgment
challenging his need to register as a sex offender pursuant
to Kentucky's Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA),
Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) 17.500 et. seq.
Finding no error, we affirm.
facts underlying this appeal were the subject of a joint
stipulation, which we shall rely on in this opinion. In June
1997, Jeffries was convicted in Shelby Circuit Court
(95-CR-00049) for the murder and attempted first-degree rape
of a 77-year-old woman. Jeffries was 15 years old when the
crimes took place. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison,
and he served out his sentence on May 1, 2017. On April 25,
2017, Jeffries registered as a sex offender by completing a
Kentucky Sex Offender Registration Form, which listed him as
a 20-year registrant. Pursuant to KRS 17.580, his
registration information was posted on the public website of
the Kentucky State Police. This public Sex Offender Registry
website permits members of the public to search for
registrants by name, address, or location, and they may ask
to be informed if a registrant changes residence. Jeffries
currently lives in McCreary County, Kentucky. Several
documents were jointly filed, including the final judgment in
Jeffries' criminal case, his Sex Offender Registration
Form, his current web flyer posted on the Kentucky State
Police public website, his discharge notice from the
Department of Corrections, and the Sex Offender Registrant
Responsibilities form he signed.
December 18, 2017, Jeffries filed a complaint with the
Franklin Circuit Court seeking declaratory and injunctive
relief related to his need to register as a sex offender
pursuant to SORA. As defendants, he named the Justice and
Public Safety Cabinet (the agency responsible for developing
and implementing the system) and the Commonwealth of Kentucky
(the entity initiating prosecutions for violations of SORA)
(collectively, the Cabinet). Jeffries stated that upon his
release from custody in May 2017, he moved in with his wife
and her two children in McCreary County. Also upon his
release, he was told that he had to register as a sex
offender for 20 years and comply with a list of conditions.
These conditions included the prohibition from being on
school or daycare grounds without written permission of the
principal or school board pursuant to KRS 17.545(2), and he
claimed that having to notify the officials where his
step-children attended school would result in community
members being informed of his status as a sex offender. This,
he claimed, would negatively affect the children's
education. He was unable to participate in any school events
involving the children or to assist in parental duties,
including picking the children up from school. Jeffries also
alleged that he was prohibited from taking photographs of or
filming his step-children without his wife's written
permission pursuant to KRS 17.546(2). Finally, he stated that
his status as a sex offender registrant had made it difficult
to find and maintain employment, which was significantly
impairing his ability to provide for his family.
claims for relief, Jeffries contended that as a youthful
offender, SORA's retroactive application to him violated
both the Kentucky and United States Constitutions as it was
an ex post facto law, was cruel and unusual
punishment, and because the registration requirement was not
rationally related to a legitimate governmental interest. He
requested that SORA be declared unconstitutional as applied
to him. In its answer, the Cabinet sought dismissal of
March 2018, the parties entered into stipulated facts as set
forth above, and a briefing schedule was set. Jeffries filed
a motion for summary judgment or to set the matter for a
trial, to which the Cabinet responded. On August 6, 2018, the
circuit court entered an opinion and order denying
Jeffries' motion for summary judgment and entering a
judgment in favor of the Cabinet, thereby dismissing
Jeffries' complaint. This appeal now follows.
standard of review is set forth in Scifres v. Kraft,
916 S.W.2d 779, 781 (Ky. App. 1996), as follows:
The standard of review on appeal of a summary judgment is
whether the trial court correctly found that there were no
genuine issues as to any material fact and that the moving
party was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Kentucky
Rules of Civil Procedure (CR) 56.03. There is no requirement
that the appellate court defer to the trial court since
factual findings are not at issue. Goldsmith v. Allied
Building Components, Inc., Ky., 833 S.W.2d 378, 381
(1992). "The record must be viewed in a light most
favorable to the party opposing the motion for summary
judgment and all doubts are to be resolved in his
favor." Steelvest, Inc. v. Scansteel Service Center,
Inc., Ky., 807 S.W.2d 476, 480 (1991). Summary
"judgment is only proper where the movant shows that the
adverse party could not prevail under any
circumstances." Steelvest, 807 S.W.2d at 480,
citing Paintsville Hospital Co. v. Rose, Ky., 683
S.W.2d 255 (1985). Consequently, summary judgment must be
granted "[o]nly when it appears impossible for the
nonmoving party to produce evidence at trial warranting a
judgment in his favor . . ." Huddleston v.
Hughes, Ky. App., 843 S.W.2d 901, 903 (1992), citing
Steelvest, supra (citations omitted).
summary judgment involves only legal questions and the
existence of any disputed material issues of fact, an
appellate court need not defer to the trial court's
decision and will review the issue de novo."
Lewis v. B&R Corp., 56 S.W.3d 432, 436 (Ky. App.
2001) (footnote omitted).
the parties have stipulated to the facts; therefore, the only
issues before us involve questions of statutory
interpretation, which constitute questions of law:
This appeal involves the interpretation of a statute.
Statutory construction is an issue of law and, accordingly,
we review the circuit court's statutory construction
de novo. See Cumberland Valley Contractors, Inc.
v. Bell County Coal Corp., 238 S.W.3d 644, 647 (Ky.
The primary purpose of judicial construction is to carry out
the intent of the legislature. In construing a statute, the
courts must consider the intended purpose of the statute -the
reason and spirit of the statute-and the mischief intended to
be remedied. The courts should reject a construction that is
unreasonable and absurd, in preference for one that is
reasonable, rational, sensible and intelligent.
Commonwealth v. Kash, 967 S.W.2d 37, 43-44 (Ky. App.
1997) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). In
construing a statute, a court should "use the plain
meaning of the words used in the statute."
Monumental Life Insurance Company v. Department of
Revenue, 294 S.W.3d 10, 19 (Ky. App. 2008).
Commonwealth v. Davis, 400 S.W.3d 286, 287-88 (Ky.
version of KRS 17.510 in effect when Jeffries registered as a
sex offender provided as follows:
(1) The cabinet shall develop and implement a registration
system for registrants which includes creating a new
computerized information file to be accessed through the Law
Information Network of Kentucky.
(2) A registrant shall, on or before the date of his or her
release by the court, the parole board, the cabinet, or any
detention facility, register with the appropriate local
probation and parole office in the county in which he or she
intends to reside. The person in charge of the release shall
facilitate the registration process.
(3) Any person required to register pursuant to subsection
(2) of this section shall be informed of the duty to register
by the court at the time of sentencing if the court grants
probation or conditional discharge or does not impose a
penalty of incarceration, or if incarcerated, by the official
in charge of the place of confinement upon release. The court
and the official shall require the person to read and sign
any form that may be required by the cabinet, stating that
the duty of the person to register has been explained to the
person. The court and the official in charge of the place of
confinement shall require the releasee to complete the
acknowledgment form and the court or the official shall
retain the original completed form. The official shall then
send the form to the Information Services Center, Department
of Kentucky State Police, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601.
(4) The court or the official shall order the person to
register with the appropriate local probation and parole
office which shall obtain the person's fingerprints, DNA
sample, and photograph. Thereafter, the registrant shall
return to the appropriate local probation and parole office
not less than one (1) time every two (2) years in order for a
new photograph to be obtained, and the registrant shall pay
the cost of updating the photo for registration purposes. Any
registrant who has not provided a DNA sample as of July 1,
2009, shall provide a DNA sample to the appropriate local
probation and parole office when the registrant appears for a
new photograph to be obtained. Failure to comply with this
requirement shall be punished as set forth in subsection (11)
of this section.
(5) (a) The appropriate probation and parole office shall
send the registration form containing the registrant
information, fingerprint card, and photograph, and any
special conditions imposed by the court or the Parole Board,
to the Information Services Center, Department of Kentucky
State Police, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601. The appropriate
probation and parole office shall send the DNA sample to the
Department of Kentucky State Police forensic laboratory in
accordance with administrative regulations promulgated by the
(b) The Information Services Center, upon request by a state
or local law enforcement agency, shall make available to that
agency registrant information, including a person's
fingerprints and photograph, where available, as well as any