A Philadelphia judge has ordered the owner of philly.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News to reveal the name of a person who's being sued over a comment posted online.
The ruling came in a defamation suit filed by John Dougherty, the head of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union. Dougherty sued the anonymous poster over a comment on a Daily News blog, and his lawyers subpoenaed Philadelphia Media Network, demanding the person's identity.
A lawyer for the media company said it would not do so without a court order.
Common Pleas Court Judge Jacqueline Allen ordered Philadelphia Media Network to turn over the name, along with any comments he or she posted from Aug. 10, 2012, through this January, the Inquirer reported Saturday.
Philip L. Blackman, a lawyer for the individual who posted the comment, had argued in court filings that his client's statements were protected by the First Amendment. Blackman said the description of Dougherty was not "defamatory per se."
Dougherty's lawyer, Joseph R. Podraza Jr., called Allen's ruling "absolutely appropriate."
"I think it does bring accountability back to people who post things online, and I hope it disposes of the notion that just because you're anonymous, you can say defamatory things about other people and not be held accountable for it," he said. ..Source.. by The Republic
March 9, 2014
March 8, 2014
See earlier post3-8-2014 New Hampshire:
A bill prohibiting residency restrictions for registered sex offenders and offenders against children which was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this month is causing concern among some legislators, who say the bill would strip communities of their ability to protect children.
HB 1237 is based upon two court decisions where judges found local ordinances restricting residency for offenders to be unconstitutional.
One of the cases cited came out of Dover District Court. In August of 2009, Dover's ordinance that prohibited registered sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school or day care center was deemed unconstitutional by Judge Mark Weaver after a challenge by the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union. Weaver found the city did not show a substantial relationship between the ordinance and the protection of children.
Judge Larry Smukler cited the same reason when he overturned Franklin's ordinance in 2012 at Merrimack County Superior Court. New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union also challenged that ordinance.
Rep. Jim Webb, R-Derry, contacted Foster's Daily Democrat to voice his concerns this week. He said the bill would force the 11 cities and towns with residency restrictions to allow sex offenders and offenders against children to live wherever they want, even if it is in an apartment above a day care. Webb said this strips local governments of their ability to protect children as they see fit.
Derry does not have residency restrictions for offenders.
Rep. Laura Jones, R-Rochester, said she also believes in local control.
“Because I support local control, I decided to vote against HB 1237,” Jones said.
Jones has a friend that lives in a town where there is such an ordinance and she said her friend reports it is effective and has protected children.
The Rochester representative said she performed her own research on court rulings in this area and found decisions made by judges are mixed.
Rep. Steve Beaudoin, R-Rochester, echoed Webb's concerns about the proximity of sex offenders to children and loss of local control.
“Though the courts have ruled that no town or city can restrict where a sex offender lives, I believe that if a city or town wants to challenge that they should be able to. As I see it, this law will prohibit that challenge,” Beaudoin said.
Supporters of the bill say that residency restrictions deprive registrants of their fundamental property rights and drive them underground.
“The research explains why banning offenders from most areas of a town forces them into homelessness, destabilizes them and concentrates them in the outskirts of town, far away from buses, services, jobs and mediators,” the bill's sponsor, Timothy Robertson, D-Keene, wrote on behalf of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee for representatives to review when preparing to vote.
In an interview Wednesday, Robertson said that every molester is not the same.
“There are lots of cases where a 21-year-old didn't know the other person was 15,” Robertson said. “They simply came upon each other and got what they wanted.”
When asked if the bill would, in effect, allow an offender against children to rent an apartment above a day care center, Robertson said he doubts very much that a person with a day care center on their property would rent to anyone without checking the free public sex offender list which is posted online.
Robertson cited cases of people who are legitimate and successful business owners who are considered sex offenders and others who, even 30 years after the crime, have a hard time finding a job due to the discrimination they face.
Robertson pointed out that judges do have the discretion in individual cases to limit where a sex offender or offender against children can live.
HB 1237 will now go to the Senate, where a similar bill was tabled in 2010. ..Source.. by Kimberley Haas
The State Assembly is actively considering a bill, AB 1640, that would eliminate the registration requirement for sexual offenses that the California Supreme Court and several Courts of Appeal have ruled violate the equal protection rights of registered citizens. The bill was introduced by Assembly member Jones-Sawyer (Democrat, Los Angeles) and is sponsored by Los Angeles District Attorney Lacey.
“Assembly Bill 1640, if passed, would be an important step toward restoring the civil rights of registered citizens,” stated CA RSOL President Janice Bellucci. “The bill would ensure that courts throughout the state of California consistently enforce recent court decisions.”
Recent court decisions to which the bill refer are based upon the case People v. Hofsheier in which the California Supreme Court ruled that mandatory lifetime sex registration was unconstitutional for those convicted of Penal Code Section 288a(b)(1). Since that case, the Hofsheier ruling has been applied to additional Penal Code Sections including 286(b)(1), 286(b)(2), 288a(b)(2), 288.7, 289(h) and 289(I).
California RSOL supports AB 1640 and will devote resources to its passage. Registered citizens and family members can help to support the bill by contacting their Assembly members by phone, by E-mail and/or by letter. ..Source.. by CA-RSOL
Sex offenders who committed crimes against children will have a hard time finding a place to live in Grover Beach if the City Council gives final approval to an ordinance amendment increasing the size of protected areas.
The council unanimously approved the revisions on a first reading Monday. The amendment must come back for a final vote, likely at the next meeting March 17, before it can be enforced.
Currently, child sex offenders are prohibited from living within 1,000 feet of the city’s 13 designated parks, schools and day care center.
The revised ordinance introduced this week would increase the prohibition zones to 2,000 feet.
Those overlapping zones will cover almost the entire city except three small pockets at the far southern, northeastern and northern ends.
One pocket consists of mostly agricultural and industrial land east of South Fourth Street and south of Highland Way to the city limits.
Another pocket is made up of mostly vacant land south of El Camino Real, north of Atlantic City Avenue and east from the Laguna Court dead end across North Oak Park Boulevard to the city limits.
The third and smallest pocket is a triangular residential area near Estuary Way and North Second Street.
Police Chief Jim Copsey said when the city first adopted the ordinance in 2007, questions were swirling around the state’s recently passed Megan’s Law, which established a 2,000-foot prohibition zone around day care centers, schools and parks.
So the city chose to be less restrictive, adopting a 1,000-foot zone, until the validity of the state law had been affirmed.
Copsey said the amended ordinance will bring the city’s zones into line with the state zones but will have more teeth, because there are no penalties for violating the state law.
As a result, the state law is rarely enforced, Copsey said. But the city’s ordinance does provide penalties and therefore can be enforced.
Copsey said the ordinance still will not apply to sex offenders who were living in the prohibition zones prior to the 2007 effective date of the initial ordinance.
He also noted that while the ordinance will prevent sex offenders from living near parks, it can’t prevent them from visiting parks.
“Keep in mind, too, that our ordinance still only affects those sex offenders that have committed crimes against children, those children under 18 years of age,” he said.
The amendment also adds a provision requiring child sex offenders to obtain written permission before entering a school.
“That’s currently state law, but there are no actual penalties for that,” he said. “So if we have that in an ordinance, we can directly deal with that if there’s a violation ... where somebody shows up at a school and they’re not preauthorized, if you might say.”
Until now, the ordinance has come back to the City Council each year for review to see if any areas needed to be added or revised.
Copsey said the amended ordinance will only come back to the council if a new park is added, which isn’t likely, or there is a change in state sex offender laws.
The city’s 13 areas surrounded by prohibition zones include Grover Heights Elementary School, Grover Heights Park, Ramona Garden Park, Grover Beach Elementary School and Dandy Lion Day Care..
The rest of the list includes Mentone Basin Park, 16th Street Park, Fairgrove Elementary School, South County Skate Park, Costa Bella Park, Golden West Park and Pismo State Beach. ..Source.. by Mike Hodgson
Undersheriff: Issue not a problem at local level
By a unanimous 44-0 vote of the Oklahoma Senate, a bill that would make it more difficult for registered sex offenders to change their names has reached the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 1421, authored by Kyle Loveless, Oklahoma City Republican, underwent its first reading in the House on Feb. 27.
Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault said he did not know of any instances, during his service with the department, of registered sex offenders evading detection with new names for any length of time.
“The way I understand it, they still need to register as sex offenders by the name under which they were convicted,” he said. “I’ve not been aware of a problem.”
Chennault said the bill may be intended to close a loophole by which offenders can deflect scrutiny from the community.
“From the perspective of law enforcement, we can still track them under their original names, and any name changes would be listed additionally as aliases,” he said. “However, a name change might make it difficult for the public to look up offenders and their convictions.”
The text of the bill would amend 12 Oklahoma Statute 2011, Section 1631 to read:
“Any natural person, who has been domiciled in this state or who has been residing upon any military reservation located in said state, for more than 30 days, and has been an actual resident of the county or such military reservation situated in said county, or county in which the military reservation is situated, for more than 30 days, next preceding the filing of action, may petition for a change of name in a civil action in the district court; provided, no person who is required to register as a sex offender pursuant to the Oklahoma Sex Offenders Registration Act may petition for a change of name. ...”
In a press release from the Oklahoma State Senate Communications Division, Loveless stated that a sex offender initially passed a routine background check under a new name when applying as a nursery worker at the church Loveless attends. After discovering the applicant had applied under a changed name, Loveless said it was revealed the person was a sex offender.
Loveless further referenced a 2011 case where a sex offender was hired as a school bus driver in Lawton after changing his name three times. Loveless also claims there is a sex offender in Tulsa who has changed his name nine times.
If passed by the House and signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin, the amended language would go into effect on Nov. 1. ..Source.. by SEAN ROWLEY
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A bill that would restrict who can access juvenile criminal records has passed the Legislature and now goes to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature.
Passed by a unanimous vote in the Senate Friday, House Bill 1651 would keep juvenile offender records confidential unless a juvenile has been convicted of certain serious and violent offenses, including a sex offense for which registration is required. The measure unanimously passed the House last month.
Also under the measure, confidential juvenile offender records could not be published, distributed or sold.
Washington is among eight states that does not have juvenile records covered by confidentiality and is one of three states that sell those juvenile records. Since 1977, juvenile offender records have been public unless sealed in accordance with statutory requirements. Non-criminal juvenile records, such as those in a dependency matter or adoption, are not open to the public. ..Source.. by MyNorthWest.com
March 7, 2014
Regulations preventing sex offenders from entering parks won’t be pursued by the Town Council, the ordinance committee determined Thursday night.
Town Councilor Craig Fishbein, chairman of the committee, said the opinion of the Law Department was sought after the committee spoke on the issue in past meetings. Fishbein said Corporation Counsel Janis Small issued memos to the committee — made up by the Town Council — on Feb. 26 and Feb. 28 with information on how other municipalities and states handled similar bans. Other municipalities in Connecticut have regulations preventing sex offenders from entering parks, but according to Small, they’ve never been enforced, Fishbein said.
The Feb. 28 memo was interesting, Fishbein said, because it stated that Small spoke to victims’ advocacy groups “who are adverse to municipalities doing things like this.”
Advocacy groups feel such regulations create a false sense of security, Fishbein said. Small was not available to attend the meeting.
Town resident Chrissy Rutigliano first brought up the idea of banning sex offenders from parks. Rutigliano said she contacted the council when she saw there was no ordinance regulating the activity of sex offenders.
“This isn’t reinventing the wheel,” she said. “Other towns have these ordinances.”
Rutigliano suggested that the council consider signs that designate child safety zones where sex offenders aren’t allowed.
That would create a liability, Fishbein said, because the town would be guaranteeing safety, but police can’t watch over the parks all the time. Town Councilor John Sullivan has also said such signs would scare people away from parks.
Just as there are drug-free zones near schools, the town should consider child safety zones, Rutigliano responded.
“It’s very alarming that we can have sex offenders living within 100 feet of a school,” she said.
The state Sex Offender Registry lists 38 sex offenders in Wallingford.
Drug-free zones are state law, Town Council Chairman Vincent Cervoni said. These laws are immediately enforceable, while local ordinance is bound by a “silly warning” system, he said. Local ordinance requires a warning provision, he said, so a sex offender would have to be warned first for violating regulations before an infraction is issued. The infraction would then be referred to Meriden Superior Court.
For more responsive laws, Cervoni suggested Rutigliano “get a movement afoot at the state level.”
“That’s where you’re going to get a law passed,” he said. A state law could dictate that through probation all sex offenders are disallowed from entering a child safety zone, Cervoni said. Probation can currently prevent sex offenders from being in certain public locations.
A state law would be “immediately enforceable without the silliness we’re forced to deal with locally,” Cervoni told Rutigliano.
Asked after the meeting if she would consider pushing for a stricter state law, Rutigliano said, “it’s something I have to consider.”
In other business Thursday, the Town Council decided to table discussion of running bamboo regulations due to the potential passage of stricter regulations at the state level. The committee also voted against raising fines for those who don’t clear their sidewalk of snow or ice within 18 hours. A proposal would have raised the fine from $25 to $50, but a majority of councilors were opposed. Discussion on whether fines should be raised for those who place snow on road that have been cleared was tabled until a future meeting. Current fines are $50. ..Source.. by Andrew Ragali
Albany Second Chance hopes to bring attention to the hundreds of people in Dougherty County who are having a tough time creating a stable lifestyle. Members say its partly because a their criminal record holds them back.
President of Albany Second Chance, Dr. Charles Ochie, feels the meeting will allow them to communicate to lawmakers how important it is to address the issues that ex-offenders face. He says it's not only a member's concern but a community concern, because it involves the safety of Dougherty County citizens.
Dr. Ochie feels in order to get to the root of our crime problem have to find a way to break the cycle. They hope to bring awareness, generate a support system and develop solutions to get those previously imprisoned back on track.
"We try to get them back into the community, find them jobs, connect them with their families, with the church, so they feel they are part of the community again," Dr. Ochie said.
Vice President, Dr. Patrick Ibe, says some of these people are family men, brothers and uncles, they have paid their dues and need to be given a chance.
Albany Second Chance says that is what they will be fighting for during Thursday's meeting at the state capitol. Members feel grateful and are excited for the opportunity to be a part of something that is very important to them. ..Source.. by Nicole Rosales
March 6, 2014
Oklahoma lawmakers are considering a measure to change the state's sexting law that would reduce penalties for minors.
State Rep. Terry O'Donnell, R-Catoosa, authored the bill. It reduces the penalties for teens exchanging sexually explicit messages and/or photos via electronic devices.
House Bill 2541 states anyone under 18 years of age who engages in the transmission of obscene material or child pornography via electronic means with another minor over the age of 13 shall be guilty of a misdemeanor instead of a felony. The minor could also face fines of up to $1,000.
In addition, the offender and his or her parents could be ordered to complete an education course on the legal and social consequences of sexting.
"Due to the Draconian penalties under current Oklahoma law, I discovered that a number of law enforcement agencies and prosecutors were simply choosing to not take any action against the teen offenders," said Representative O'Donnell. "Condemning a 16-year-old to a life as a convicted felon and a registered sex offender for an electronic misstep between two minors is not the way to teach them a lesson."
HB 2541 passed the State House of Representatives unanimously, 92-0. It now goes to the state Senate for consideration. ..Source.. by KJRH.com