Court questions why state wants to put boy on registry

The state of Nebraska is still intent on listing a (now 15-year-old) boy on the sex offender registry.

The boy was convicted of criminal sexual conduct in a Minnesota juvenile court when he was 11. When he moved to Nebraska, the State Patrol said he had to register as a sex offender, but the boy’s family sued the state and courts have thus far kept the boy off the state’s registry. The state, which doesn’t require juveniles to register unless they are convicted in adult court, is appealing a 2016 decision by U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf, ruling the boy did not have to register.

“I just wonder … why the state of Nebraska is pushing this and just not looking the other way. Good old police discretion,” Eighth Circuit Judge William Jay Riley of Omaha asked in oral arguments Wednesday. 

Assistant Nebraska Attorney General Ryan Post conceded that if the boy had done in Nebraska exactly what he did in Minnesota, he wouldn’t have been required to register as a sex offender.

But, the way the Nebraska law is written, all sex offenders who move here must register, regardless of age.

Post said the State Patrol is just trying to apply the plain language of the law as written.

“We don’t believe we can just unilaterally disregard that provision that requires registration in this instance,” he told Judges Riley, C. Arlen Beam of Lincoln, and Bobby Shepherd of Arkansas.

Post said when state lawmakers were crafting the bill the State Patrol superintendent told them this was going to happen.

They actually left it in the bill and passed it,” he said.

The court didn’t rule immediately on the state’s appeal.

Should legislators take up the question as to whether juveniles should be required to be on the registry in such situations, perhaps they could expand the discussion to question whether anyone should be required to register as a sex offender registry for any reason.

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