LINCOLN, Neb. — An appeals court has ruled in favor of a 15-year-old boy whose family sued the Nebraska State Patrol to keep him from being put on the state’s public sex offender registry for a juvenile case in Minnesota.
The Nebraska Sex Offender Registry has approximately 175 juveniles, about 30 of whom are in the same situation as the boy in this case.
The boy was 11 when adjudicated for criminal sexual conduct in juvenile court in Minnesota, the Lincoln Journal Star reported . A judge ordered him to complete probation, counseling and community service, and his name went on a state predatory offender list visible only to police. Minnesota’s juvenile registry isn’t public.
The boy registered with the State Patrol when he moved to Nebraska because state law says sex offenders of all ages who move there must publicly register. The state’s registry excludes juveniles prosecuted in Nebraska unless they were prosecuted criminally in adult court.
Attorney Joshua Weir, who represented the boy and his family, sued before the boy’s name officially could be on the registry. Last year, Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf banned the state from adding the boy’s name, saying it made no sense to believe Nebraska statutes were intended to be more punitive to juveniles adjudicated out of state than those that go through the system in Nebraska.
The state appealed that ban.
Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge C. Arlen Beam of Lincoln said Monday that although the Attorney General’s office argued the language of the statute plainly supports its view that the boy should be on the registry, he decided that a juvenile court adjudication is not a conviction under Minnesota or Nebraska law, “and therefore falls outside the ordinary understanding of sex offender.”
Weir said he didn’t realize that the State Patrol was putting minors — whose cases were handled in other states’ juvenile courts and who later moved to Nebraska — on the public registry until this case came up.
State Patrol spokesman Cody Thomas said the patrol “has reviewed the ruling and has begun the process to remove affected individuals from the registry.”
A spokeswoman for the Nebraska Attorney General’s office declined the newspaper’s request for comment.
Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com