GA : Class Action Lawsuit Suit

March 30, 2009

Atlanta Journal Constitution : Sex offenders’ class-action lawsuit moves forward.

A federal judge on Monday allowed a class-action case seeking to overturn Georgia’s tough sex offender law to go forward. The judge also barred enforcement of a provision that bans offenders from volunteering at churches.

U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper rejected attempts by the state to declare the class-action suit on behalf of 16,000 sex offenders to be unmanageable. Instead, Cooper allowed the lawsuit to proceed in “subclasses.”

These include offenders seeking to overturn a provision banning them from living within 1,000 feet of a designated school bus stop; offenders who want to volunteer at places of worship; and offenders who were convicted before the law’s passage on July 1, 2006, but were put on the sex offender registry.

“Allowing plaintiffs to continue to participate in their faith communities will further public safety by providing support, stability and a grounded sense of right and wrong,” Cooper wrote. Lawyers representing the plaintiffs presented evidence from several ministers and others who work with sex offenders about the restorative powers of faith and volunteering in faith communities, Cooper said.

“Georgia’s sex offender law has suffered more legal setbacks than any such law anywhere in the country,” he said. “This order should send a clear message to the General Assembly that it’s time to fix this law.”

Preliminary Injunction:
A federal judge this week granted a preliminary injunction that overturns a provision of Georgia’s sex offender law. The provision imposed by state lawmakers prohibited registered sex offenders from volunteering in churches.

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