Alabama v. BiddleAnnotate this Case
In 1993, Michael Biddle was convicted in South Carolina of a lewd act upon a child, a violation of S.C. Code 16-15-140. He was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment; his sentence was suspended and he was ordered to serve 5 years on probation. Biddle moved to Alabama in January 2014. Under section 15-20A-10 of the Alabama Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Act ("ASORCNA"), Biddle's conviction required that he register as a sex offender, and subjected him to certain residency restrictions. On January 22, 2014, Biddle registered with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department as a sex offender in compliance with ASORCNA. About a month later, Biddle filed a form averring that he was residing at an address in Jefferson County that was not within 2,000 feet of a school or a child-care facility. Biddle was ultimately indicted for two counts of violating the residency requirements of 15-20A-11. After a bench trial, Biddle was found not guilty on both counts. That same day and in the same proceeding, Biddle filed, in the criminal division of the Jefferson Circuit Court, a petition pursuant to 15-20A-23 that he may be relieved of the residency restrictions of the ASORCNA if he was "terminally ill or permanently immobile." Biddle alleged in his petition that he was terminally ill, that he needed a full-time caregiver, and that his sister lived in Vestavia Hills and would care for him if he resided with her. Biddle did not pay a filing fee to the circuit court for filing his petition, and he did not file the petition as a new civil case. The State filed an objection, challenging the circuit court's jurisdiction and asserting that Biddle's petition was incomplete because he had not paid a filing fee or sought in forma pauperis status. The circuit court granted Biddle's petition for relief, and the State filed a petition for a writ of mandamus. The Supreme Court concluded the State had a clear legal right to the relief sought because the circuit court, sitting in a completed criminal case, lacked jurisdiction to relieve Biddle from the residency requirements of the ASORCNA in what should have been a civil proceeding. Biddle should have filed a "new" civil action in order to seek relief from the residency requirements of the ASORCNA.