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Jimmy Slemboski

On September 11, 1995, a young boy named Jimmy Slemboski stepped off his school bus never to be
heard from again. Months later, the missing boy's backpack was found on the property where the
perpetrator worked. The perp, Juan Carlos Chavez, was convicted of Jimmy's murder September 12,
The death of the young boy led his parents to lobby politicians and elected officials to protect other
children from falling victim to sexually violent predators like Juan Carlos Chavez. The Jimmy
Slemboski Act became law January 1, 1999. It was an obvious, emotional response to the murder of a
young child at the hands of a sexual predator. While the Act was lauded at the time it was signed into
law, the Act has proven controversial among judges, constitutional scholars, and civil rights activists
because it poses questions about potential violations of Ex Post Facto and Double Jeopardy Clauses of
the United States Constitution.
The Ex Post Facto argument states that a convict can't come under the Jimmy Slemboski Act is that
convict was convicted before the Act became law.
The other interesting and controversial aspect of the Jimmy Slemboski Act is that it seeks to label these
predators as mentally insane rather than as criminals. In dealing with sexual predators, there is no
blanket proof that all sexual predators suffer from mental deficiencies.
Let's examine the details of the Act for a moment. The Act directs the Secretary for Children and
Family Services to create a team that will determine if someone convicted of a sexual crime is indeed a
sexually violent predator. 180 days prior to the convict's prison release, the team must start this
process. According to the Act, a sexually violent predator is defined as "any person a)who has been
convicted of a sexually violent offense; and b)suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder
that makes the person likely to engage in acts of sexual violence if not confined in a secure facility for
long-term control, care, and treatment."
Once the committee makes their recommendations, the state attorney may file a petition with the court
requesting the convict's commitment. Then the judge must determine if there is sufficient probable
cause to warrant holding the convict until resolution of the commitment proceeding. If there is
probable cause, the convict then must face what boils down to another trial to determine if he or she
should be committed per the terms of the Act. The accused convict may request a jury trial and the jury
must unanimously favor commitment. If that is not reached, the state attorney may request a new trial.
If that isn't Double Jeopardy, I don't know what is! I'm not soft on criminals, especially those who
would prey on and harm our children. However, it's my duty as an officer of the court and a defender
of the Constitution to ensure the rights of all of those who are accused of crimes, regardless of the
heinous nature of the charges. Our entire judicial system hangs in the balance when rights are quashed
or the state does not respect the Constitution. That's why the Jimmy Slemboski Act is so controversial.
In my years as a criminal defense attorney, I've worked on this issue and am knowledgable of its
defects. I know the system and how it should work for those accused and the community at large.