Zuneska v. Cuomo

U.S. DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
Civil Rights

New York Law Journal

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Judge Margo Brodie

Zuneska pleaded guilty to third-degree rape in 1999. He was sentenced to time served and five years' probation, and required to register as a Level I offender under New York's Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA). SORA was amended in 2006, increasing the applicable registration period from 10 years to 20. Zuneska's April 2011 county court petition—grounded on Woe v. Spitzer—sought declassification as a sex offender and relief from SORA's registration requirement. He did not appeal its July 29, 2011, ruling that New York Correction Law §168-o did not allow for the relief sought. District court dismissed Zuneska's federal lawsuit asserting rights violations by state officials—and Suffolk County's district attorney—denying him the opportunity to be declassified as a registered sex offender. Discussing the four elements outlined in Green v. Mattingly, and citing Hoblock v. Albany Cnty. Bd. of Elections, the court found Zuneska's complaint barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine because it tried to mask a state court appeal as a federal cause of action. Zuneska's claim in federal court was no different from that before the county court, wherein he requested to be "declassified entirely from the notification and registration duties" of SORA.

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