Monday, December 15, 2008

Utah Sex Offender Registry - Partial Court Victory Sex registry is changing ; Justices order state to erase data about victims' age, gender.

Utah must change the listings on its sex-offender registry to eliminate data about a victim's age and gender following a Utah Supreme Court ruling issued Friday.

The high court concluded that providing information about possible "targets" the offender might seek in the future suggests that the offender still remains a danger to the community, but it provides no court hearing for the individual to contradict that contention.

The ruling emerged from the case of Steven Arthur Briggs, who was found guilty of sexually abusing a 9-year-old girl in 1986 and served 15 years in prison. He refused to register as a sex offender after being released from prison. Briggs appealed his case and argued that Utah's sex offender registry unfairly labels all sex offenders as predators even when they have had no history of repeat crimes, which subjects them to such things as possible public humiliation, physical danger and discrimination in housing and employment.

Briggs said publishing that information in the online registry without a hearing before a judge to prove he is not a current risk violates his constitutional right to due process.

The Supreme Court rejected other claims made by Briggs — such as his argument that his constitutional rights would be violated if he is required to register, and that the information included such things as his address, how he looks and any prior convictions.

But the high court said the parts of Utah law that require publication of Briggs' primary and secondary "targets" do breach his right to due process as it is done without providing him with a court hearing where he can show otherwise. In Briggs' case, the high court reversed portions of a ruling by a trial court and sent that part of the case back to the lower court.