OF JUDGMENT: 03/03/2017
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. ISADORE W. PATRICK, JR. TRIAL JUDGE
COURT ATTORNEYS: PAUL E. ROGERS NIKKI MARTINSON BOLAND.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: PAUL E. ROGERS
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: LORA E. HUNTER, ANTHONY L. SCHMIDT
We granted the petition of the Mississippi Department of
Public Safety (MDPS) for certiorari review of the Court of
Appeals' decision that Chelsey Ferguson need no longer
register under the Mississippi Sex Offenders Registration Law
(the Act) due to the expungement of her misdemeanor sex
offense. Ferguson v. Miss. Dep't of Pub. Safety,
No. 2017-CA-00912-COA, 2018 WL 4572805, at *3–4 (Miss.
Ct. App. Sept. 25, 2018). Because Mississippi Code Section
45-33-55 (Rev. 2015) exempts sex offenses from orders of
expungement to the extent that the information
concerning those offenses is authorized for dissemination
under the Act, we reverse the Court of Appeals' decision
and reinstate the circuit court's judgment.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
In 2011, Ferguson pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor offense
of disseminating sexually oriented material to a minor. Miss.
Code Ann. § 97-5-27 (Rev. 2006). As a result of her
conviction, Ferguson had to register as a sex offender. Miss.
Code Ann. § 45-33-25 (Rev. 2015).
Approximately five years later, she filed a successful
expungement petition. After the expungement, MDPS sent
Ferguson's attorney an "Expunction Resolution
Notice, " stating that it could not process the
expungement order because "ANY CONVICTION FOR A SEX
OFFENSE EXEMPTS AN EXPUNGEMENT UNDER THE 1ST OFFENDER
STATUTE." Thus, MDPS refused Ferguson's request for
relief from her obligation to register as a sex offender.
In response, Ferguson filed a complaint against MDPS, seeking
to be relieved from her duty to register under the Act. The
circuit court denied Ferguson's request.
Aggrieved, Ferguson appealed. After the close of briefing, we
assigned the case to the Court of Appeals. Ferguson raised
two assignments of error. First, she argued that MDPS had no
authority to challenge her request for relief from the
obligation to register. Second, she maintained that the
circuit court erred by finding that she still had to register
despite her expungement. We limit our review of the Court of
Appeals' decision to the second issue. M.R.A.P. 17(h).
Addressing that issue, the Court of Appeals reversed the
circuit court and held that Ferguson no longer had to
register as a sex offender. Ferguson, 2018 WL
4572805, at *3–4. It based its reasoning on
Stallworth v. State, 160 So.3d 1161 (Miss. 2015), in
which the Court held that under Mississippi law a party had
no duty to register under the Act when the party's
sex-offense conviction had been expunged in a foreign
jurisdiction. Id. Stallworth, though, dealt with a
foreign sex-offense conviction that also had been expunged in
the foreign jurisdiction. Because Section 45-33-55 exempts
sex offenses from the laws of this state or court orders
authorizing expunging criminal-history ...