LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A federal judge has told Nebraska to keep juvenile sex offenders off the state sex offender registry if they weren’t tried as adults — at least for now.
The Lincoln Journal Star reports that Tuesday’s order from U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf gives a temporary reprieve to dozens of people who received letters from the Nebraska State Patrol telling them they must register as sex offenders. The letters cited a recent Nebraska Supreme Court decision.
A year ago the same people learned that an 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision meant they no longer had to register because of their convictions as juveniles.
The patrol letters prompted a federal court filing last week asking a judge to resolve the dispute.
“The patrol’s position is they’re kind of in a spot because they need to follow the Nebraska Supreme Court order,” Assistant Attorney General Ryan Post told Kopf at a hearing in Lincoln Tuesday. The State Patrol maintains the Nebraska Sex Offender Registry.
The confusion centers on whether minors from other states who were prosecuted in juvenile courts for sex offenses, rather than as adults in adult courts, should have to register as sex offenders if they moved to Nebraska.
Nebraska’s federal district court and the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals have said no in a case involving a 15-year-old boy. His family sued to keep him off the Nebraska list for something he did in Minnesota when he was 11.
But the Nebraska Supreme Court said the opposite this summer in the case of a 38-year-old man who pleaded guilty to an attempted registry violation. Citing the appellate court decision last year, the man said he shouldn’t have been on the list for the crime he committed as a juvenile in Colorado.
The state high court’s decision said it “respectfully disagreed” with the 8th Circuit’s interpretation of Nebraska law.
Nebraska lawmakers chose not to put juveniles on the registry if they weren’t tried as adults. But the statute’s wording made it unclear whether the same applied to juveniles or those convicted as juveniles who move here.
Kopf’s order said the people involved need not register while he is considering the disagreement. He intends to hold a hearing Oct. 15.