Crimes Against Nature by Solicitation (CANS) Litigation Historic Case

At a Glance

Current Status 

On March 29, 2012, the court found the registration requirement unconstitutional and ordered the removal of the individual plaintiffs.  On June 10, 2013, Louisiana agreed to remove from the sex offender registry the nearly 900 people registered solely because of a CANS conviction.

Date Filed: 

February 16, 2011

Co-Counsel 

Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic & Center for Social Justice, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law; Andrea Ritchie; Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP (Jindal).  Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic & Center for Social Justice, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law; Andrea Ritchie; Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg, LLP (Caldwell).

 

Case Description 

In Louisiana, people accused of soliciting sex for a fee can be criminally charged in two ways: either under the prostitution statute or under the solicitation provision of the Crime Against Nature statute.  This archaic statute, adopted in 1805, outlaws “unnatural carnal copulation,” which has been defined by Louisiana courts as oral and anal, but not vaginal, sex.  Police and prosecutors have unfettered discretion in deciding whether to charge someone with prostitution or Crime Against Nature by Solicitation (CANS).  When CCR filed suit, a CANS conviction subjected people to far harsher penalties than a prostitution conviction.  Most significantly, individuals convicted of CANS were forced to register as sex offenders.

The registry law imposed many harsh requirements that impacted every aspect of our clients’ lives.  For example, they were required to carry a state driver’s license or non-drivers’ identification document which branded them as a sex offender in bright orange, capital letters.  Registered sex offenders are required to disclose the fact of their registration to neighbors, landlords, employers, schools, parks, community centers, and churches.  The names, addresses, and photographs of registered sex offenders appear on the Internet. 

Many of our clients were unable to secure work or housing as a result of their registration as sex offenders.  Several were barred from homeless shelters.  One was physically threatened by neighbors and another was refused residential substance abuse treatment because providers will not accept sex offenders at their facilities.

Our clients were not alone in being forced to register as sex offenders solely as a result of a CANS conviction.  Indeed, at the time CCR filed suit, almost 40 percent of registered sex offenders in Orleans Parish were on the registry as a result of such a conviction; 76 percent of these were women and 80 percent were African American.

Doe v. Jindal challenged the sex offender registry requirement on behalf of nine plaintiffs.  CCR argued that being forced to register as a sex offender because of a Crime Against Nature conviction violated equal protection principles. Because people convicted under the essentially identical prostitution statute were not required to register as sex offenders, we argued, there could be no legitimate purpose in forcing people convicted of CANS to do so.  

On March 29, 2012, the court found the registration requirement unconstitutional and ordered the removal of the nine plaintiffs.  CCR then filed a follow-up class action, Doe v. Caldwell, seeking the removal of all of the nearly 900 individuals who had been forced to register as sex offenders because of a CANS conviction, in light of the court’s ruling in Doe v. Jindal.  The class action was settled on June 10, 2013, and the state removed those convicted of CANS from the sex offender registry. Meanwhile, the legislature equalized all penalties between the prostitution and CANS statutes moving forward.

CCR’s CANS litigation is part of CCR’s broader efforts to challenge sexual violence, the criminalization of LGBTQ persons, discriminatory policing, and racial injustice.

To learn more about this issue, visit our community partner Women with a Vision and its No Justice campaign.

Case Timeline

June 10, 2013

Caldwell is settled

June 10, 2013

Caldwell is settled

Louisiana agrees to remove all individuals convicted of CANS from the sex offender registry

June 27, 2012

Doe v. Caldwell complaint filed

June 27, 2012

Doe v. Caldwell complaint filed

Doe v. Caldwell is a federal class action lawsuit seeking to remove from the Sex Offender Registry the hundreds of people who are still forced to register due solely to a Crimes Against Nature by Solicitation (CANS) conviction.  It seeks to extend the ruling in Doe v. Jindal beyond the nine original plaintiffs.

March 29, 2012

Motion for Summary Judgement granted

March 29, 2012

Motion for Summary Judgement granted

The Court finds a violation of plaintiffs' rights under the equal protection clause of the federal constitution.

March 28, 2012
Oral argument on summary judgment motion
March 28, 2012
Oral argument on summary judgment motion
October 31, 2011
Plaintiffs move for summary judgment
October 17, 2011
Defendants file an Answer to the Complaint
October 17, 2011
Defendants file an Answer to the Complaint
September 7, 2011

Judge Feldman denies Defendants’ motion to dismiss in part, and grants it in part

September 7, 2011

Judge Feldman denies Defendants’ motion to dismiss in part, and grants it in part

August 10, 2011

Oral argument on motion to dismiss

August 10, 2011

Oral argument on motion to dismiss

At argument, Judge Feldman orders all parties to submit supplemental briefs, which are filed on August 17, 2011

June 23, 2011

Amicus briefs filed in support of plaintiffs

June 23, 2011

Amicus briefs filed in support of plaintiffs

Amicus briefs are filed by BreakOUT! (a project of the Juvenile Justice Project of Lousiana), Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project

June 14, 2011
CCR files briefs in opposition to the motions to dismiss
June 14, 2011
CCR files briefs in opposition to the motions to dismiss
Spring 2011
Defendants move to dismiss the lawsuit
Spring 2011
Defendants move to dismiss the lawsuit
February 15, 2011

Doe v. Jindal complaint filed

February 15, 2011

Doe v. Jindal complaint filed

The case is filed in the Eastern District of Louisiana on behalf of nine plaintiffs who have been forced to register as sex offenders as a result of a Crime Against Nature conviction.