Judge Upholds Sex Offender Registry

by NBC10/AP | Dec 21, 2004
Judge Upholds Sex Offender Registry A Superior Court judge has turned down a challenge to the Internet registry of sex offenders required by Megan's Law.

The people of New Jersey spoke forcefully when they voted overwhelmingly to change the state Constitution and allow names and other key details about sex offenders to be listed online, Judge Andrew J. Smithson wrote in Monday's ruling.

"For them, convicted sex offenders must not be allowed to hide their past. They must not be allowed to move about the general population with the potential of generating opportunities to prey on children and others in virtual ghostlike anonymity," Smithson said.

The judge rejected arguments made by the state Public Defender's Office on behalf of seven sexual offenders claiming that the Megan's Law requirement stripped the men of their rights and turned them into "legal ghosts."

Mike Buncher, deputy public defender, said his office would appeal the ruling.

"We're confident we're going to get some success in the Appellate Division," Buncher said.

The Public Defender's Office said previously that some of the 3,500 sex offenders on the Internet-based registry and their relatives have been subjected to harassment, threats and assaults. One man's house was shot at, and others have been evicted or fired because their names appear on the list, the lawsuit alleged.

New Jersey began posting the home addresses of convicted sex offenders on the Internet in September 2003 after a federal appeals court threw out an attempt by the Public Defender's Office to stop the listing.

For more information about this registry, visit www.njsp.org/info/reg_sexoffend.html.

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Author: NBC10/AP

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