On July 12, 2013, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law a bill requiring the state’s Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB) to amend registry requirements for defendants classified as level two and level three sex offenders, under G.L. c.6, §§ 178D and 178K. Level two offenders are deemed only a moderate risk for reoffending, and prior to the new law, the Board was barred from publishing those offenders’ registry information online.
Lawmakers deliberately sought to change that policy, and enacted a law that allowed the Board to retroactively post on the Internet information about level two sex offenders.
The move promptly resulted in a class-action suit on behalf of level two sex offenders in Massachusetts, who claimed the law constituted an ex post facto violation. On July 5, 2013, even before the governor had signed the bill into law, the plaintiffs filed a brief requesting class certification, declaratory judgment and injunctive relief enjoining the SORB from publishing registry information about level two sex offenders online.
Lower courts sided with lawmakers, but the state Supreme Court reversed the previous rulings, stating, “We conclude that the amendments [to the bill] are retroactive … but that such retroactive application would violate State constitutional due process.” Full Article