Hearing today to decide whether to remove thousands from Michigan sex offender registry

Posted at 5:36 PM, Feb 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-05 17:36:09-05

Federal Judge Robert Cleland could soon change how Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry operates.

The judge is holding a hearing in Port Huron Wednesday afternoon based on his ruling from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals that some provisions are unconstitutional for some of the 44,000 convicted sex offenders on the public website.

Search Michigan's Sex Offender Registry & View Map: Michigan Sex Offender List

RELATED: Judge rules Michigan's sex offender registry unconstitutional

The changes will affect registration requirements, loitering restrictions, reporting requirements and residency exclusions. Some of these have been changed by the Legislature after people were convicted and registered, keeping them on it longer.

J.J. Prescott of the University of Michigan Law School tells 7 Action News, “The intent is to satisfy a demand that people have that they kind feel like they want to know whether a sex offender is living in their midst.” But he goes on to say, “You can’t change criminal punishments after the fact.”

And he says sections of the registry are too vague for law enforcement and the people on it saying, “It’s really difficult often times for people to tell if whether or not they’re in compliance with residency restrictions and with some of the other restrictions on activities.”

The legal challenges were filed in 2016 by Joe Does who are on the registration and it turned into a class-action lawsuit. The ACLU of Michigan and the University of Michigan Law Clinic have also argued these sections are unconstitutional.

The judge last year put the cases on hold so that changes could be made by the Michigan Legislature. But that has not happened.

Now, the judge could issue a temporary restraining order or permanent injunction on enforcement on these provisions of the registry. Or he could issue another hold on the case to give the Legislature time to act.

The judge could rule this afternoon or issue a written ruling at a later date.