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Appeals Court Upholds Sex Offender Law

April 21, 2009

morningjournal.com (Akron, OH) : Appeals court upholds sex offender registration law.

The 9th District Court of Appeals yesterday upheld a state sex offender registration and notification law that is being challenged by four Lorain County men. The men argued the Adam Walsh Act is unconstitutional as applied retroactively to those who were first classified under an earlier version of the law.

The new law, which took affect last year, automatically classifies offenders in one of three tiers by their crime without considering the likelihood of whether they would reoffend. The law applies retroactively to offenders, many of whom were nearly finished with their reporting requirements under the old law.

Ruling on a lawsuit from Ronald Brooks, Abraham Bowen, Jeffrey York and Steve Keller, a visiting judge deemed that the law’s residency restrictions — prohibiting offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school — are unconstitutional. The Lorain County prosecutor’s office appealed the ruling and the men’s attorney cross-appealed, looking to deem the entire law unconstitutional.

The 9th District court sided with prosecutors, stating the men could not challenge the residency restrictions because they were not affected by them, as their homes were not located within 1,000 feet of a school. The court’s ruling also stated sexual offenders only have a case if they can show they were deprived of a protected liberty or property interest as a result of the registration requirement, which they had not done.

The 9th District cited Ohio Supreme Court decisions that stated felons have no right to expect their conduct will not thereafter be made the subject of legislation.

Attorney Jack Bradley, who represents the men, said he will review the decision and decide if they have a right to appeal to the high court, which he does not believe has made a final ruling on the Adam Walsh Act. Bradley, who represents about 50 offenders who are challenging the law, said their case could possibly be consolidated with other similar cases.

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