Federal Judge rules parts of Tennessee sex offender law punitive

By Travis Loller . . . 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that parts of Tennessee’s sex offender registration act should not be applied retroactively to two offenders who sued over the law.

Monday’s ruling in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee was narrowly written to apply only to the two plaintiffs. But it could open the door to more lawsuits and a broader ruling in the future.

U.S. District Judge Eli Richardson found that parts of the law violate the Ex Post Facto Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which prevents people from being punished by a law passed after their crime was committed. In order to find a violation, Richardson had to determine that parts of the law were punitive. He analyzed the specific circumstances of the two plaintiffs, who are identified only as John Doe #1 and John Doe #2, and found that parts of the law did act as punishment in the cases of the two men.

Richardson ruled in favor of the state on one issue. He said that a part of the act that requires offenders to provide law enforcement with information about their online activity was not, on its face, a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech. However, Richardson noted that the law is “confusing and unclear regarding what is required of registrants.”

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    • #80526 Reply


      I am a Tn registrant. As I am glad this was a win for the 2 def I am extremely up set that there is not more bei g done in Tn. We have no one fighting for us here, hell we don’t even have a “group” any more. No one is fighting for the other issues with Tn such as the sex offender stamp on our driver’s license or anything else. So you let me know when we will get some help.

      • #80530 Reply

        Matthew Stephenson

        Hey, Also a registrant in TN here. Not arguing with the previous poster, just clarifying.

        The identifier on our driver’s licenses is not a stamp. Its the number 88 listed in the codes section on the front. Fortunately most people do not notice it or even know about it But law enforcement sure does.

        The TN4 change group has fizzled quite a lot but still technically exists. Despite not have a lot of activism we have had some strong litigators fighting the good fight. There is currently open litigation challenging a particularly nasty piece of legislation. In the early stages the managed to get an injunction which is huge and bodes well for the final determination.

        So There is still some hope in TN.!

      • #80597 Reply

        Tim P

        May I respectfully suggest that you take up starting a group and be the leader of the group. We can not complain if we do not act our selfs.

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