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MI Judge Rules “No Registration” for Juvenile

October 5, 2009

Detroit News : Sex offender avoids registry- Prosecutors to appeal judge’s ruling that keeps teen off books.

Ann Arbor – Prosecutors are appealing a Washtenaw County judge’s decision that kept a convicted juvenile sex offender off the state’s public sex offender registry. Debra Keehn, an Ann Arbor lawyer who represents the juvenile identified in court records as T.D., said Friday the implications of a ruling by Family Division Judge Darlene O’Brien could be profound if the state Court of Appeals takes the case. “The decision is so well reasoned it’s likely the Court of Appeals will affirm the decision and then the law changes for everyone in Michigan,” said Keehn, who declined to identify her client by name or allow The Detroit News to interview him.

In the case, T.D. was 15 years old when he was accused of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. The case involved a 15-year-old female classmate who accused T.D. of grabbing her and touching her breast in school. A jury convicted him of the charge when he was 16.

In her decision, the judge said she considered T.D. to be rehabilitated and the severity of the teen’s offense to be “low,” saying the incident was “more akin to a juvenile prank than predatory, perverted, criminally deviant sexual conduct likely to be repeated.” O’Brien said: “It would be cruel or unusual punishment to require T.D. to publicly register for the remainder of the 25-year period.”

Larry Dubin, a criminal law professor at the University of Detroit-Mercy, said O’Brien has ruled part of the sex offender registry law is unconstitutional.

“Judge O’Brien’s opinion warrants serious consideration by an appellate court to determine whether the current law is unconstitutional in depriving a judge of exercising discretion when the facts do not warrant registration as a sex offender,” Dubin said.

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