Michigan reopens sex-offender list to public
By The Associated Press
LANSING, Mich. The public will once again have access to Michigan's sex-offender registry under a ruling issued yesterday by a federal appeals court.
Michigan's registry, which was made public through the Internet in 1999, lists the names and addresses of convicted sex offenders as well as their crimes.
The registry had been unavailable to the public since June 3, when U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts ruled it was unconstitutional in a case involving a convicted sex offender who wants his name off the registry.
Roberts amended her decision June 25 to allow police to maintain a sex-offender registry. But that decision still kept the registry closed to the public.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said yesterday that the registry should remain public while it considers the case.
The appeals court said the harm that could be caused by keeping the site closed outweighed any harm that might be caused to the defendant. For example, the court said, the state could lose millions in federal law enforcement grants if it doesn't have a public registry.
State police spokesman Michael Prince said the registry was up and running by 5 p.m. yesterday.
The lawsuit against the registry was filed by Daniel Fullmer, a former state corrections officer, who was convicted of having sex with a female inmate in 1999.
Fullmer pleaded no contest to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. He sued after a neighbor spotted his name on the Internet and then asked his wife if he was a child molester.
Fullmer argues that he doesn't want to prevent police from tracking sexual predators, but that he shouldn't be included on the registry because he is not a danger to the public.
Fullmer's attorney didn't immediately return a telephone message left yesterday.
State Attorney General Jennifer Granholm said yesterday that she understood Fullmer's argument and would consider changing the law to make sure the registry is reserved for people who are dangerous.
But Granholm, the Democratic nominee for governor, added she was pleased with the federal appeals court's decision and remains confident that the law is constitutional.
The state also asked the appeals court to delay further proceedings until the U.S. Supreme Court considers a challenge to sex-offender registries. The Supreme Court agreed earlier this year to take a case from Connecticut.
But the 6th Circuit denied the state's request and said it would consider Fullmer's case.
All states have sex-offender registries; Michigan is one of at least 20 that make them public. As of May 1, Michigan had 29,300 people on its registry, state police said.
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