clear
Tuesday August 4th, 2015 1:24AM

Supreme Court may take up Va. sex registry case

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- She was a 24-year-old swimming instructor who had a sexual affair with a male student under 16.

The woman was convicted in Virginia in 1993 of unlawful sex with a teenager and served 30 days in jail. She was listed on the state's sex offender registry, and could have tried to get her name removed at some point, but didn't.

Fifteen years later, the state passed a new law that reclassified her and thousands of others as violent sex offenders. The woman - identified in court papers only as Jane Doe - has unsuccessfully challenged the law, and now her lawsuit is on the agenda Friday when the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court meet in private to consider taking up new cases.

Her appeal comes as states around the country face growing public pressure to protect people from repeat sexual predators. Those labeled sex offenders are being subjected to a host of new limitations, including where they can live, work or travel. But the new restraints have not come without complaints, and courts in Georgia and Ohio have ruled that sex offender laws in those states went too far.

Under Virginia's 2008 law the woman, who is now married with three young children, cannot enter public or private school property or attend church services without seeking permission from the state court or the local school board. But she hasn't done that because she said it risks revealing her children's identity and could take years to resolve.

She wants the Virginia law thrown out, claiming the new restrictions interfere with her constitutional rights to raise and educate her children and violate her right to procedural due process.

A federal district court rejected her claims, and the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed last year in a 2-1 ruling that she had to first exhaust state remedies before challenging the law. The dissenting judge argued that she had already suffered an injury and should be able to challenge the law immediately.

"In her case, she never admitted to a violent crime, nobody told her she was accused of a violent crime, and 15 years later they say, `We decided you're violent and no one can prove that we're wrong,' " her lawyer, Marvin Miller, said in an interview.

Although her name is publicly available in Virginia's sex offender registry, the district court allowed the woman to file her case under a pseudonym to protect her privacy and that of her children. Lawyers for the state consented to the arrangement, which is rare and usually reserved to protect the victims of sexual abuse cases.

Like dozens of states, Virginia has moved to bolster its sex offender registration and notification laws since Congress approved the Adam Walsh Act in 2006. The federal law, named for a Florida boy abducted and murdered in 1981, sought to get states to better coordinate and expand their sex-offender registries.

The changes in Virginia and elsewhere have seen the rolls of sex-offender registries swell to include those convicted long ago and those whose offenses were previously considered too minor to be placed on a registry. Lawmakers see the changes as a way to keep children safe from sexual predators who might strike again.

Virginia argues in court briefs that it was entitled to create the new registry to protect residents from possible repeat sex offenders. It relies on a 2003 Supreme Court case that upheld a Connecticut sex offender registry. The state says it has offered a reasonable process for anyone on the registry to seek review in state courts and the school board to gain access to school property.

"Although Doe may present a sympathetic case because she now has school-aged children of her own, the presumption against allowing access would apply equally to the most hardened offenders, including the 50-year-old man convicted of having sexual relations with a 13-year-old," attorneys for the Virginia Department of State Police argue in their brief.

The new restrictions have raised concerns that people convicted long ago and considered at low risk of re-offending will be publicly humiliated and made targets for harassment and violence. Mary Devoy, an advocate for reforming Virginia's sex offender registry laws, says the expanded listings also make it more difficult for people to determine which listed offenders are the most dangerous.

"The lawmakers feel better about being tough on crime and the public feels better because they are on the registry for life," Devoy said. "The public's attitude is no second chances, no redemption, no rehabilitation."
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 7 months ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 7 months ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 7 months ago )
U.S. News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 7 months ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 7 months ago )
Local/State News
Committee leaves transportation funding to lawmakers
Georgia will have to cover a $1 billion to $1.5 billion transportation funding gap to stay economically competitive, a committee of lawmakers is warning in a report issued Tuesday.
5:36AM ( 7 months ago )
US off war footing at year's end, but wars go on
Taking America off a permanent war footing is proving harder than President Barack Obama may have suggested.
6:13PM ( 7 months ago )
GOP leader regrets talk to white supremacists; party leaders rally around him
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
6:08PM ( 7 months ago )
Politics
Climate change: Obama orders steeper emissions cuts from power plants
Aiming to jolt the rest of the world to action, President Barack Obama moved ahead Sunday with even tougher greenhouse gas cuts on American power plants.
By The Associated Press
6:40PM ( 1 day ago )
Some Americans refuse to give up on Confederate flag
Many Americans assumed the Confederate flag was retired for good
By Associated Press
6:30PM ( 1 day ago )
Biden for President? Associates mulling Clinton challenge
Vice President Joe Biden's associates have resumed discussions about a 2016 presidential run after largely shelving such deliberations while his son was sick and dying earlier this year.
By The Associated Press
9:50AM ( 1 day ago )
Atlanta airport again leads in number of guns found in bags
Atlanta's airport once again leads the nation in the number of guns found in carry-on bags.
By The Associated Press
6:49PM ( 2 days ago )
Judge blocks release of new recordings by anti-abortion group
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge on Friday blocked the release of any recordings made at meetings of an abortion providers' association by an anti-abortion group that previously revealed secretly...
8:30AM ( 2 days ago )