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Federal judge strikes down Michigan sex-offender registry

By The Associated Press

06.05.02

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DETROIT — A judge has ruled that Michigan's sex-offender registry is unconstitutional, saying it lacks a way for people to challenge the government's claim that they are a danger to society.

U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts said the law violated the 14th Amendment, which guarantees the right to due process.

Michigan shut down its Internet sex-offender registry yesterday in response to the ruling. The state will appeal and file for a stay of Roberts' decision, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Jennifer Granholm's office said.

The June 3 ruling was met with criticism from supporters of the registry who say it will restrict information that should be available to the public.

"I think it's a classic mistake of individuals deciding that criminals have more rights," said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, which is opposed to public dissemination of the registry, said it was pleased with the ruling.

The ACLU said the list fails to distinguish between sex criminals who pose a continuing risk and those who do not.

"It's very hard to have a sex-offender registry that doesn't brand people for life and catch in its net people who don't pose a threat," said ACLU of Michigan executive director Kary Moss. "It makes no sense for the law to treat pedophiles the same way as Romeo and Juliet."

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by former state corrections officer Daniel Fullmer, convicted of having sex with a female inmate in 1999 and sentenced to two years probation.

Fullmer said he decided to sue after a neighbor spotted his name on the Internet, then asked Fullmer's wife if he was a child molester.

Michigan established the registry in 1994 and made it available to the public on the Internet in 1999.

The state will be waiting to hear how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the issue. The high court said last month it will hear an appeal from Connecticut, where a federal judge struck down the state's sex-offender registry last year.

Update

Federal judge amends decision on Michigan sex-offender list
New order allows state officials to register, track convicted offenders as long as they don't make the information public.  06.26.02

Related

High court agrees to hear challenge to sex-offender list
Connecticut officials appealed after federal judge struck down state's registry.  05.20.02

New Jersey can't post sex offenders' addresses on Net
But, federal judge says, state can list name when it begins putting Megan's Law information online.  12.10.01

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