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CO: Coffman will appeal federal ruling declaring sex offender registry unconstitutional

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman will appeal the recent federal ruling declaring the state’s sex offender registry unconstitutional. Full Article


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  1. Big K

    Of course she will appeal, lets waste more of the peoples money.

  2. Eric Knight

    From the article:

    “I am surprised by the court’s decision, and think the ruling contains several legal errors which we will now address on appeal, (Colorado Attorney General Cynthia) Coffman said.

    Coffman also pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court has previously found that sex offender registration laws are tools to protect the public, not a form of additional punishment.

    The one reason that we are in this horrible mess in the FIRST place is that Smith v. Doe had been horrendously cited with the “frightenlingly high” recidivism rate that has never been properly argued competently at the Supreme Court level. So when that argument gets shot down, Coffman’s pointy finger cannot dictate otherwise. Projected defendant counsel Alison Ruttenberg is the lawyer making the argument, and she used the same recidivism arguments that my colleague used in his expungement case, in which the state got severely reprimanded by the judge because they asserted high recidivism rates without proof. Both times citations and arguments were supplied by SOSEN regular Will B. (Justice Alito is the primary focus on whether this case (cert) may be accepted, unless SCOTUS re-shuffled their assignments since last year.)

    Alison practices in Boulder, CO, so if you want to send any correspondence or encouragement, she’s listed online in Avvo.

    • AJ

      @Eric Knight:
      “Justice Alito is the primary focus on whether this case (cert) may be accepted.”
      Not true. As the Justice with oversight of the 10th, Alito can only issue a stay, pending the outcome of a petition to SCOTUS. Besides, Alito won’t step in until after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has had its swing at the case–perhaps twice (3-judge panel, and then a slim chance to be reheard again en banc).
      No single Justice can decide whether or not to grant cert. To be granted cert, 4 Justices must vote to hear the case–which is why I am all but certain Snyder will be accepted (pick 4 out of: Kennedy, Kagan, Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor).

      • Eric Knight

        Fair enough, though I’m basing my observation based on the website Justia’s reasoning of why the Supreme Court declined to hear a gerrymandering appeal from Texas, of which Alito was the one “assigned” to determine cert. Obviously, apples and oranges. Thanks for the correction.

      • David

        @ AJ and Eric Knight: I don’t understand. Who has the power to grant cert? Does that power lie with a single SC justice who is assigned that district and can unilaterally decide “No” to cert? Or is each cert request reviewed by SCOTUS “en banc” and then voted on by the group, “Yes, cert” or “No, no cert”?

        • AJ

          Certiorari is granted when 4 of the 9 Justices vote to hear the case. You won’t find this in any formal documents. as it’s merely custom ( These votes occur during their conference sessions, when nobody but the Justices themselves are present.

          As part of their SCOTUS duties*, each Justice is assigned one or more Federal Circuit. In this role, the Justice oversees the Circuit and decides whether or not to issue a Stay (as Kagan declined to do with Snyder). These Stays are the same ones that get requested at the last minute for someone facing the death penalty.

          *The most junior Justice also “gets” to head the Cafeteria Committee at the Supreme Court, and is pretty much the secretary and gofer when they’re in private conference. ( These duties could last for many years, depending on how slowly Justices leave the bench through death or retirement. Justice Kagan did this for seven years, and Justice Breyer had these duties for more than ten years!

  3. AlexO

    As expected. Will this appeal simply review the previous case in terms or errors or will evidence itself be reviewed as well.


    “Coffman also pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court has previously found that sex offender registration laws are tools to protect the public, not a form of additional punishment.”

    That’s the whole crux of the registry! This SCOTUS ruling was based on entirely falls information. Stop pointing to the ruling that stated cats bark.

    “…it could have a major impact on the public’s right to knew where convicted sex offenders are located in their neighborhoods.”

    Can anyone explain what the actual right the public has to know something about a private citizen that’s no longer on supervision? I see this being said by the authorities but I have never understood it.

    • AJ

      Appeals and Supreme courts typically do not scrutinize evidence itself, rather they review whether the lower court(s) properly applied the laws and constitutions. So in this case, any courts above Matsch’s District court will look at how he ruled based on the evidence presented. That does not, however, preclude additional briefs to be filed. Both parties can (and almost assuredly do) file briefs stating why the case should or should not be heard on appeal. Likewise, interested parties file amici to lobby for or against, and also to provide additional, expert opinion and information. For instance, EFF filed an amicus in Packingham. EFF obviously has no interest in RC issues, but has supreme interest in Internet freedoms.

      • AlexO

        Thanks! I’m learning all kinds of stuff.

      • Eric Knight

        That’s why it was CRUCIAL that recidivism rate arguments were a major factor in the decision-making process, because to be blunt, that is the only chance we have of overturning a decision that shouldn’t have been rendered in the first place, as the citation upon which the original decision was made has been proven to be blown out of the water six ways to Sunday.

  4. Registry Rage

    She uses the SAME tired argument “inform and protect the public” which is laughable.

    “We will strive to have a ‘robust’ registry.”


  5. AJ

    “Coffman also pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court has previously found that sex offender registration laws are tools to protect the public, not a form of additional punishment.”
    Yeah, 14 years ago, using flawed data from. Let’s see if SCOTUS sticks with that story when they take Snyder, and/or Muniz, and/or Minnis, and/or the MN SOTP case.

    “Colorado, its forty-nine sister states, and the federal government all have sex offender registry laws in place to inform the public and protect them from sexual offenders who have been found guilty of sexual crimes, including heinous crimes against children.”
    Yeah, all 50 States and the Feds have such laws because Congress mandated each State to do so. What a novel concept that Congress mandates States to do something by passing a federal law!


    I want to know, in what constitution, either state or federal, does anybody have the right to know of ones past or history?

    • AJ

      Public records. The public has the right to inspect them. Historically, one had to do some work to see the records, compile them, etc. Heck, quite often you had to have a justifiable reason to see the records! Yet for RCs, that all goes out the window. The State compiles and disgorges the data for all to see, use and exploit–for any or no reason whatsoever. This problem was pointed out in the CO case: no other group of citizens has their information compiled for ready consumption. The plaintiffs pointed out how it is virtually impossible to use public records to find a desired group of offenders…except RCs.

      • AlexO

        It didn’t used to be that way. Prior to the net, you actually had to file for approval to search the records. And we’re only allowed to search the records for specific people you applied for, were on a time limit while doing so, and had someone literally watching over your shoulder to make sure you didn’t stray.

        • Lake County

          When I was convicted, my attorney told me that I had to register yearly, but that the public only had access to a binder at the police station or Sheriff office with all the registered citizens in alphabetical order. My attorney assured me that it was no big deal since very few people would actually find out about my conviction. I was told that a person needed a good reason to search my name. Shortly afterwards a internet company became available to search the registry on-line for $10 per search. Then the next year (2003) I was walking through the California State Fair in Sacramento and my worst fears (at that time) came true, there was a booth that offered free sex offender searches from a CD database. The booth was packed with people filling out a small form with their personal information (to verify they were not a S/O searching the database) and the one name they wanted to search. I was instantly nervous and afraid of how this could effect my life. Little did I know that 7 years later (2010) with Jessica’s Law, I would become quickly and easily searchable by everyone on the internet. All enjoyment in life basically ended with that retro-active law.

        • Mike G

          I know just what you mean, Lake County. When I was convicted, the judge did not require me to register. My first probation officer said: “I see that you don’t have to register – you must have a good attorney!” Several months later: I new probation officer… “I see that you haven’t registered yet. You need to do that right away.”
          “But the sentencing judge didn’t require me to register!”, I protest.
          “I don’t care what any judge did or didn’t require! The law says you have to register, so if you don’t get over there and do it, I’m goin’ to throw your ass in jail! Besides, it is no big deal. You just do it one time, and you are done. And no one will ever see it except law enforcement people.”
          Since my attorney had quit his practice and gone back to the DA’s office, I didn’t have anyone to talk to, and it didn’t seem like such a big deal, so I went ahead and registered.

          As they say, and as you point out, it only went downhill from there.

        • AlexO

          If there was no court order to register, the PO can’t make you do it. Maybe the judge misspoke versus the actual judgement on paper? Otherwise this means an average can voluntarily register (social experiment) and then can’t stop?

        • Mike G

          I think you are right, AlexO, but at the time I was mostly naïve and scared. I had never been in trouble, never had any experience with law enforcement, I was so naïve that I didn’t even know that what I did was illegal until after the fact. When my new PO said she would throw me in jail, I believed her, and her sell job on how insignificant an item “registration” was, caused me to take what I thought was the easiest solution. If I had only known then what I know now… !

        • AlexO

          That still seems odd. I mean, paperwork, a judge order, etc would be needed to register. You should contact a lawyer and have them review your case. I think this might be you misunderstanding the judge, rather then the PO making you register despite the actual court ruling. You should be able to speak with a lawyer for free to present your case. They’ll then tell you if you have something or not. It’s certainly worth a few phone calls.

        • PK

          The Judge told me that I only need to register for 10 years. Even had the damn thing as part of my Plea Deal in writing “must register for a period of 10 years”. Now 17+ years later- there I am- still registered.

          I think the determining factor as to whether you need to Register is based on your conviction, not what the Judge said or didn’t say.

        • Mike G

          I still have the sentencing sheet from the court, signed by the judge, after I pled no contest. There is a check mark for length of sentence and then 300 days was filled in (actually spent 30 days in jail and 170 days with an ankle bracelet), and there is a check mark for length of probation, and 5 years was filled in. There are some check marks for other items, such as can’t be alone with a female minor during probation, etc. But next to the line “Must register as a sex offender” there is no check mark. When things went bad (Megan’s law), and then really bad (Jessica’s law), I did talk to two attorneys. They both said it was unlikely that I could get back off the registry, but they would look into it. I never heard back from either one of them. Now, with IML being the last straw for her, my wife says that as soon as she retires, she is going to work full time talking to Judges, Attorneys, DAs, etc. to try and get me off.

        • Tim Moore

          I hear you, when I was convicted One could just search a neighnorhood and see a few dots representing serious or SVP registrant. The dots where puposely not even exact locations and no pesonal information was there. I guess the idea was if you saw a dot you could go down to the station, leave your name and find out more. It was a protection against vigilates using the information. Registrants were not even banned from accessing the internet site. Then it was everybody’s information, except for registrants. The local rag even put my name in the paper. Then I had people parked on my sreet for hours at a time and some shouting obscenities. My wife, children and I were afraid to leave the property. They did nothing with this freely accessable registry, but they created chaos. They (LE and politicians ) are responsible for keeping the peace and protecting citizens , but enabled the opposite.

      • Tim Moore

        Unfortunately, the compilation is a government record and, unless classified, is available for public access. Isn’t that what was ruled in Washington state against tier I registrants? Does that mean even a “police eyes only” registry is unconstitutional? If so, we should not be advocating for that as an acceptable alternative to the public registry. Let the people do what they do for others if they suspect of a past crime — go to the courthouse and do some work. Don’t treat us like an questionable additive in a food product. The scientific standards of risk are measurably higher for the food product that can kill children.

  7. Not Really

    Over at Sentencing Law and Police, Prof. Berman has a link to download the decision.

    Many of the comments by lawyers are also worth a read.

  8. TS

    And someone (Kvigr) in the comments section has the audacity to mention the Hanson and Morton-Bourgon (2004) report as guiding proof of high recidivism rates!! No, no bias there!! No working to secure future job security there!! A 13 year old report with highly screwed data being stated as a foundation! Laugh them outta the forum!!

    • AJ

      Yeah, and I had shot a lengthy rebuttal to him/her, but it never got posted! Fear not, I went back at it…and even tossed a 2014 Hanson study back at Kvigr. 😀

      • TS


        Did you send a message to the station manager about their censoring comments?

        • AJ

          Nah, not worth the time to contact them. My subsequent posts have made it, so all’s good.

  9. Sam

    I really hope something good comes out of it. I dont even live in the country anymore and New York is forcing me to still report to them, and has told me if i dont they will issue a warrant. Pretty funny when a local registry list my out of country address then trys to show it on a map of New York. Its like im getting punished from the other side of the planet and it make me scared to renew my passport for whenever the IML kicks in. Hopefully my PR goes through before then.

    • AlexO

      If you’re moving out of state, don’t you register out? I mean, would NY still make you register with them if you permanently moved to another state?

    • Relief

      @SAM: That seems very odd that you are still on the NY registry. Are you sure NY authorities are correct in this requirement? Did you seek legal advice? (Recommended)

      It’s a big hassle, but have you considered moving from NY to another nearby state registering there (which de-registers you in NY) and then relocate from this new state which would not require an ‘out of country’ registration.

      Are you familiar with the Apr 4th, 2016 Supreme court case Nichols v US. about moving abroad:

      “Nichols v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct. 1113 (Apr. 4, 2016)(sex offender was not required under the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, 42 U.S.C. 16911(1), 16913(a), (c), to update his registration in Kansas once he left his home and moved to the Philippines, since SORNA did not apply to residents of foreign countries)”

      “Nichols once resided in Kansas, but after moving, he “resides” in the Philippines. It follows that once Nichols moved, he was no longer required to appear in Kansas because it was no longer a “jurisdiction involved.” Nor was he required to appear in the Philippines, which is not a SORNA “jurisdiction.” §16911(10). Section 16913(c)’s requirements point to the same conclusion: Nichols could not have appeared in person in Kansas “after” leaving the State. SORNA’s drafters could have required sex offenders to deregister in their departure jurisdiction before leaving the country had that been their intent.”

      A summary can be found here:

      Not sure what “PR” means.

      Good luck.

      • AJ

        @AlexO & Relief:
        One cannot “deregister” from NY. They actually had a case go through their courts over this, and it was decided that since the law didn’t specifically say they no longer had to register when leaving the state, it means they must continue to do so (or something along that crazy line of thinking). (I just read the case law recently, but have no idea where!) So NY somehow gets away with extra-sovereign enforcement of laws on people who are not citizens of the State. It would seem to be an easy challenge in the Federal courts, but I’m guessing it’s not worth the expense it would entail. Meanwhile, anyone registered in NY must–in NY’s eyes–continue to register, regardless where on the globe they reside. I’m guessing it would apply even if one were to renounce US citizenship!

        PR = passport renewal

        • AlexO

          Wow, that’s good to know! So basically avoid having to register with the state, even if that means you don’t visit (or take the risk of visiting under the radar).

        • PK

          I think we discussed the specific issue with New York some time ago.

          I’m in that boat as well, haven’t lived or worked in NY for 17 years nor have I paid taxes in NY. Even the state that I live in I’m not required to register in, only in NY!

          I have retained a well-known Attorney in Albany who would love to file a Federal Lawsuit based on that issue.

          I really wasn’t interested in going in on this Federal Case alone, and would much prefer a Class Action type with other Plaintiffs involved. So if you know anyone IM me please.

          FYI this Attorney also has a Client living out of the Country, but it doesn’t matter- he still needs to register in NY.

        • TS


          Go it either alone or with another plaintiff, two or three. Finding out that class action is not going to work (as discussed in CO case on NARSOL website and here) and RCs continual punishments are not going to work facially. You need to show damages against you and another two or three people in a small group suit. Sets precedent for others to challenge.

      • PK

        There’s no such thing as de-registering in NY. If you’re convicted in NY, it doesn’t matter where you live, you must register, and send your photo every 5 years while your at it. Period.

        The Attorney I mentioned earlier also mentioned that the Nichols Case would be the most important factor for any Federal Action in NY.

        • E

          Same is true for Wisconsin. Moved out of state after conviction in 1995 and have to register there AND in my state of residence. How is that right? Anybody want to sue Wisconsin as a small group?

      • lovewillprevail

        Relief, that is all fine and dandy except the IML was adopted into law after the alleged offense in your referenced case and even the justices stated in court that the IML would now take care of any people like Nichols so they were not concerned about ruling against Nichols and setting a precedent. They even stated this in court.. the IML will require him to give at least a 21 day notice to leave. But he has already left and he did not say when he left. So he really needs to contact an attorney to see what his options should be.

        • Relief

          @Lovewillprevail: Yes, the IML notification is applicable in the Nichols case but SAM above did notify the registering agency in advance. So the relevant portion of the Nichols case is that NY is no longer a “jurisdiction involved”. Nichols error was he did not properly deregister/notify. SAM did.

          As PK said above, an attorney could likely challenge this NY requirement using Nichols and similar.

  10. American Detained in America

    This was expected and is a good thing. We should all WANT this to be appealed, as that increases the chances that it will make it to SCOTUS. Registrants in other states should follow suit. We need court after court acknowledging the registry to be punishment. That is our only real chance of relief from the registry, especially here in California.

  11. Nondescript

    So New York is as crummy as Florida now. You are no longer a resident of that State but still have to send photos of yourself to law enforcement so they can include your profile on their website? Where is the red dot placed on a map? Someone else’s house or the new tenants apartment? The airport where you were last seen? I have always maintained that registries aren’t there to make the public feel secure, but to keep everyone in perpetual fear. This just about proves it.

    • AJ

      In some ways, NY is *worse* than FL. Though FL keeps your data forever, at least they don’t require you to keep updating them–nor do they threaten a warrant for arrest if you don’t! How NY courts ever thought to rule this way is beyond me. How it’s not been struck down as NY overreaching its sovereignty is also beyond me.

      • David

        I have absolutely no doubt the States receive Federal funding in direct proportion to the number of offenders on their Registries. (It’s certainly the opposite of a marketing campaign: “Oh, Ohio only has 12,000 sexual offenders but we, Florida, have 80,000!”
        If States are all so proud of their Registries, why not incorporate them in tourism advertisements??
        “Visit Florida for the Perv-fect vacation!🌴” 😠

        • Mary

          I’m in Florida too. I’ve always have thought that it is a numbers game. Florida even keeps people on the registry that are dead !!! With the status of “deceased”. What are they going to do? Come back as zombies ? Florida does rely quite prominently on their tourism industry. To have or find that the state has 80,000 registrants and climbing, would be such a deterrent in the industry I would think when tourists and visitors see these statistics.

        • James

          LOL…Publicize?!? A little Gorilla marking would be…great fun to you and me…not so much to the powers that be.

          hehehehehe…Good Luck

          Best Wishes, James

        • AJ

          The reasoning behind leaving dead people on there is laid out in the Federal drivel somewhere. I forget where, but do recall reading it. The rationale is that it lets victims know the status of the offender, for their peace of mind. What it essentially tells someone is that if a person is not on the registry, they are alive and have somehow completed their “regulatory period,” whereas if they are on the registry, they have not–including through death. (I wonder if the estate has to update the place of residence to the cemetery, and do so every 90 days?) Of course, one could argue that if on the registry for “life,” that length of time is completed upon death and one should be removed!

        • Mary

          I would think ” a ” notification would be enough to a victim to let them know of the dead status ? I know they get a notification if anything has changed to the profile. I still think it’s a numbers game for whatever reason.

          Now how absurd would it be, if they do compliance checks at the cemetery grave ? lol. Dig em up, we need to make sure he is still there. They probably think some registrants are likened to Jason Vorhees or something.

      • Sam

        The address they have listed for me is in my current country. And the thing is the police in the actual unit in NYC are really chill. Its the state level that everything is bonkers. I guess until it changes though ill just send selfies.

        PR= permanent residence. My passport is good until 2024 and i have a long term visa here. In 4 more years u can apply for PR and 5 more after that i can apply for citizenship. If married to a citizen here they don’t require a background check as they want you to be a family and not tear you apart.

        Btw sorry for the delayed response. I had to dig for the thread again. Is there a way to get updates on replies via email?

        • Sam

          I forgot to mention if you look at the federal registry it doesnt have anything listed for me aside from “out of country” no address or picture or any information.

    • Lovecraft

      That is beyond asinine. If anything keeping a registry (and requiring updates) of any rc that no longer lives in a state surely would cause more harm that good. I’m sure a bunch of people are living in NY and their residence is listed on the registry because of a former tenant or homeowner. Also it would make searching for someone more difficult and confusing at best.

  12. David

    “Colorado, its forty-nine sister states, and the federal government all have sex offender registry laws in place to inform the public and protect them from sexual offenders who have been found guilty of sexual crimes, including heinous crimes against children.”
    She forgot to blame us for global warming, Harvey, Irma, genocides, plagues, 9/11, and starvation in Africa!
    How did these morons not see Registries as blatantly unconstitutional??!!! How?!!! 😠

    • 1984

      Power over those considered less than human. Pretty simple. Oh, and the book “Less Than Human” does a good job describing the mental state of some of our politicians. If it was not for us, some other group would be in the forefront.

      I constantly thank our founders for their wisdom and foresight in writing the Constitution. Just amazing. We have to fight for our rights described within its’ writing.

  13. TS

    For sex offenders, registration is punishment

    From the Philippines no less, but written in America by the Reason Senior Editor

  14. TS

    CO Lawmaker Hopes To Revamp State’s Sex Offender Registry

    See CO legislature already trying to maneuver around the court decision. pretty crazy. news story is so stupid! makes no sense and wants to make correlation between releases and increases.

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