Colorado attorney general to appeal judge's ruling against state sex offender registry

DENVER (KKTV) - The state attorney general is appealing a controversial ruling by a judge two weeks ago that could change the way the public is informed of sex offenders.

The judge sided with an attorney for three sex offenders, who argued that the Colorado sex offender registry is cruel and unusual punishment because the offenders have already served their time, only to be vilified by the public upon release.

Under current state law, sex offenders convicted in Colorado must register with local law enforcement in any jurisdiction they move to, including out of state, under the notion that citizens have the right to know when a sex offender moves nearby. The registry is available to the public online, and media including KKTV are notified by law enforcement for reporting purposes when a sex offender is released or changes addresses.

Late last month, Federal Judge Richard Matsch ruled that the registry violated the offenders' constitutional rights by giving the public the "power to inflict punishment beyond those imposed through the court." The ruling only affected the three offenders represented in the case. all who committed sexual assault against minors, but could have implications for the registry as a whole down the road. There are concerns that the ruling will take away the public's ability to know if they are living next to a sex offender.

Following that decision, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said she was committed to protecting the public, but remained mum on whether she'd appeal -- until Tuesday, when she announced that indeed she would.

On Wednesday, Coffman released the following statement:

“As Attorney General, protecting victims is one of the most critically important parts of my job. 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. Survivors of sexual assault are forever impacted by the trauma they have experienced, and we must never lose sight of the responsibility we have to prevent the victimization of more innocent people.

“I am surprised by the court’s decision, and think the ruling contains several legal errors which we will now address on appeal.”

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation will continue to maintain the registry.