Challenge deniedCounty sex offenders must follow new registration rules
By MARY ANN GREIER (email@example.com)
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LISBON - Columbiana County sex offenders who challenged having to play by the new registration rules which took effect last year lost their battle, with local judges starting to dismiss their arguments.
Both Common Pleas Court Judges David Tobin and C. Ashley Pike have denied the constitutional issues raised in cases handled so far, pointing to decisions made by numerous Courts of Appeals against the constitutional challenges to the re-classifications resulting from the rule changes.
In recent court entries, both judges noted "the weight of the law in Ohio is against the petitioner's position on each of the constitutional issues."
An estimated 60 registered sex offenders living in the county filed civil suits against the state of Ohio in early 2008 after the Adam Walsh Act took effect.
The federal law increased reporting requirements for sex offenders, extended the reporting time, and also placed more offenses under the reporting requirements. The law also changed the classification for some defendants who had already been sentenced, requiring them to do more or report for a longer period of time.
Sex offenders are required to register their address with the Sheriff's Office of the county where they're residing after they're released from prison. Depending on the severity of the charge against them, they could be required to register for a 15 years or the rest of their life.
Under the old rules, there were three levels:
sexually oriented offender, register once a year for 10 years, no community notification required
habitual sexual offender, register once a year for 20 years, some with and some without community notification
sexual predator, register every 90 days for life, with community notification required.
Under the present law, the levels are divided into tiers with longer requirements for the lower tiers:
Tier I, register once a year for 15 years, no community notification required
Tier II, register twice a year, every 180 days, for 25 years, no community notification required
Tier III, register every 90 days for life, subject to community notification.
Each of the lawsuits raised issues related to double jeopardy, violation of due process, impairment of contract and violation of retroactive provisions, according to one of the decisions issued by Pike. The lawsuits had been placed on hold by a federal court in Cleveland last year pending decisions on the constitutionality.
In a phone interview, Pike said the issues had been laid to rest by the appeallate courts.
He explained that he and Tobin are taking a different approach. He's denying the challenges and giving the petitioners a chance to request a hearing if they want to challenge the re-classification on another basis. He said Tobin is setting hearing dates on each of the cases. According to one entry, Tobin denied the challenges, then set the hearing date.
Either way, the challenges were being denied, according to court records.