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Judge Blocks Notification Of Offenders’ Whereabouts

Fri., March 15, 1996

A U.S. district judge temporarily has barred all 21 prosecutors in New Jersey from notifying schools and other institutions of the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders who have served their sentences but still are considered dangerous.

The Newark, N.J., judge, John Bissell, who has issued sealed stays in several other cases, made his latest ruling on “Megan’s law” on Wednesday. But the order did not become public until late Thursday.

On Wednesday, state Attorney General Deborah Poritz notified prosecutors about the ruling, but she was prohibited from announcing it publicly, a spokesman for her office said.

The case before the judge, like those he had ruled on previously, involved a single sex offender, but this time, the judge granted a request by the state public defender’s office to certify the case as a class action on behalf of everyone who could be affected by the notification provisions, said Poritz’s spokesman, Roger Shatzkin.

Shatzkin said Bissell would hear arguments April 19 on whether to issue a permanent injunction in the case. That would prohibit enforcement of the notification provisions pending a decision by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which held a hearing on the notification law last October and is expected to issue its ruling shortly.

The state plans to file an appeal of Bissell’s ruling next week, Shatzkin said.


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