Colorado registration statute under attack

By Larry . . .

This is great news for those that have hope that our courts will actually consider whether or not sex offender registration constitutes punishment. It appears that senior U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch may be just the judge for the situation. On July 7th Judge Matsch denied Colorado’s effort to avoid a trial on the merits of the complaint.

Three plaintiffs initiated the case by filing a complaint with the assistance of an attorney located in Boulder, Colorado. The first plaintiff was convicted in 1999 and was sentenced to 74 days on work release followed by eight years’ probation. The second plaintiff was convicted in 2007 for conduct that occurred in 2005 when he was eighteen years old. The third plaintiff was adjudicated as a juvenile offender for conduct that occurred when he was only thirteen years old. The plaintiffs assert in their complaint that “…continuing to register and complying with the restrictions applicable to them under the Act and regulations violate the protections afforded by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.”

The Defendant, Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), moved for “Summary Judgment of Dismissal based on well-established case authority that statutes like Colorado SORA are not punitive.” CBI, like most other defendants, cited other cases including Smith v Doe, 538 U.S. 84 (2003) for their assertion that sex offender registration is not punitive. Order Denying Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgement at pg. 2. CBI also contends, “Plaintiffs have not shown such adverse effects on themselves as to support a finding of punishment.” Id at 7. Judge Matsch concluded that this is a mixed question of fact and law and that there are issues of fact that should be determined through a trial with the full opportunity to present evidence that may include more than has been explored in the discovery done thus far. One plaintiff presented evidence that he has experienced harassment and vigilantism as a result of being on the sex offender registry. One plaintiff showed that he has been prohibited from entering Denver Public Schools property because of his status on the registry. One plaintiff presented evidence that he was terminated from employment due to his status on the registry.

The plaintiff adjudicated for conduct that occurred when he was thirteen years old has petitioned twice for removal pursuant to C.R.S. 16-22-1113(1)(e). His petition was denied in 2006 and again in 2012. Judge Matsch’s interest has focused on the process that resulted in the denial of the petition. Judge Matsch noted that the statute requires the court to consider “…whether the person is likely to commit a subsequent offense of or involving unlawful sexual behavior.” Judge Matsch noted that neither magistrate made a finding that the plaintiff was likely to commit a subsequent offense involving sexual behavior. Rather, the magistrates put the burden on the plaintiff to show by a preponderance of the evidence that he was not likely to commit such an offense. This burden shifting placed an impossible burden on the plaintiff to prove a negative. Judge Matsch also noted that the magistrates had imposed additional conditions not contained in the statute, which may be a violation of due process.

RSOL is excited that this case is pending, and we are in communication with the attorney in terms of offering any assistance we can provide. It could be that RSOL agrees to raise funds if expert witnesses are needed for trial. We will keep you posted as the case progresses to trial and any subsequent appeals that are almost certain should Colorado lose.





someone outside of NARSOL

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49 Thoughts to “Colorado registration statute under attack”

  1. Avatarantiestablishmentarianism

    Check out Indiana’s Wallace decision in 2009 that declared SORA punitive in Indiana. For their state to say case law is on their side, this one is definitely not. I am currently trying to get assistance to get myself off of the Indiana registry since I was not given due process (I was not ordered to register at sentencing) I am using the Wallace decision to help me state my case as well as a few others unique to my situation.

    Since this is in federal court, it should be class action and as many registered citizens and their families need to come out and join the fight. I’m ready!

    1. I would be willing to join in a class action and participate in the expense if I could just get some information as to how to get in on that. Everybody who is made aware of any civil action should do what I just said I would do. If the expense is spread over hundreds of participants it would not be a whole lot for anybody.

  2. AvatarTod

    Thank you for posting this! I know it is not a major victory, but it is a victory nonetheless the law/CBI lost their fight in this case. It is very encouraging to know that it’s possible that a judge would rule in a registered citizens favor. With all the negative stuff happening, this is a light that brings hope!

    1. AvatarSam

      So this article that was just posted has already had its day in court and the case was lost? Why was it lost?

    2. Avatarsandy

      No, it has not had its day in court. The state tried to stop the case going forward, and a federal judge ruled against the state, so the case will go forward. The fact that the judge ruled against the state is a favorable factor.

    3. AvatarRon

      What is unique interesting is that I was a registrant and federal employee in Colorado a handful of years ago and was transferred to another job location to prevent my family from suffering further harm. It was know to higher staff and senior supervisors and was kept quiet so I could leave due to my house , property and family being compromised . I have records proving it all and it is sad that I’ve suffered even more after that point

  3. AvatarMartin Niemoller

    How do I get this attorneys name?

    1. AvatarRon

      Through your local district court and
      Pacermonitor. Com. You can search the district dockets and case law by the federal district court clerks office

    2. AvatarMartin Niemoller


    3. AvatarPatrick

      Hey Martin…If you figure it out, I would love that attorney’s name as well. I’m assuming you live Colorado? I

    4. Her name is Alison Ruttenberg

    5. 11-3-16

      Her name is Alison Ruttenberg and she can be found on the web. She is in Boulder, Co.

      Susan Walker, M.A.
      Director, CSOR

  4. Avatarallen williams

    So if I can prove I had a job offer from Amazon at 75k that was withdrawn because I am a RSO that is proof that the SORA is Punitive?… I am in Washington…. how do we make this a Class action to include all RSO’s… I can also prove I was denied entry into Thailand do to IML which gets its info from were…. SORA!!!

    1. AvatarRon

      How long have you been on registry? Are your a class b or c felony?, I was removed from registry without the assistance of a lawyer due too my self working in sub related legal fields and etc so if you have reached the statutory limit for being able to request relief it is possible.I also I would be planning years in advance .

    2. AvatarAllen

      unfortunately Ron I have a Class A felony, I have been on the registry for 19 years, 13 post release.

    3. AvatarRon

      What state Allen I’m curious

  5. AvatarEmil S

    I was denied a job as pizza delivery person for Dominos when they did background check.

  6. AvatarChris

    People are talking about difficulty finding job while in the registry, I’m having difficulty finding my life partner because of all the restrictions and the fact that when someone put my name in online search, they see my picture and where I live along with the sex offender label.

    1. AvatarRon

      You have to look past what has happened and be the change. Once you are off of probation and discharged you can look to many states and perhaps counties away to seek a name change and change of residence for less draconian rules. It pays to research rapidly and repeatedly

    2. AvatarFocus

      This idea sounds good until it is fully investigated. It is not a successful application. Your past still follows you. Unless you do it illegally. Nonetheless, the life that registry presents is not what is chosen but included by a society that is afraid that this will happen again. Since the initiation of this law we have seen that the faces are not ghosts or goblins. People, just people. Dr’s, lawyers, officers of justice, and they are family, friends, educators. Did we forget the part that said “Omibus”? It is clearly left out. Yet you have seen it in action time and time again. The changing of the law via amendments. Even when you are not on parole or probation. The registration has talons that hold you back. The apartment, you cannot have since it becomes public record. The job that does not want to keep you since the location is posted. The relationship, public record. The car, public record and it is not even yours. The children that you cannot support in school, financially, emotionally. It’s said that you can do all this once you are off parole/ probation, yet how when the law says you have to report all your information so you can be monitored and that puts people who would like to help at a disadvantage. They become a part of the public databases and it looks very bad to want to help so money who others believe to be a threat to our society. What responsibility do they now have. Children they cannot support. Is it their fault or the woman’s or the children. The staggering number in shelters, but no address to live since no one wants there address in the registry. I spent 10 years, two sex offender programs and completed, four children, eight years in college for a bachelor’s degree I cannot not use. NYC.

    3. FredFred

      And all the dating websites ban us.

      Tell us again how this isn’t punishment.

    4. AvatarMaestro

      POF (Plenty of Fish) doesn’t have a SO ban. I know, I’ve used it. I even paid for a membership for a short time until I realized it was pointless to pay for an already FREE service. The paid membership just allows you to see if the person you messaged read the message.
      But I wouldn’t recommend POF. Too many fakes and even more who are just flakes and use it as an ego boost.
      Also, OkC (Ok Cupid) is free to message people. They do have a ban on SO’s though so just make up a name. Screw this crap that we can’t continue living our lives. I’m sick of it.

    5. FredFred

      I agree with you on POF, but I remember reading their Terms of Use and they specifically ban SOs or at least they did at that time. They may not enforce it though.

      “Screw this crap that we can’t continue living our lives. I’m sick of it.”
      I am happy to hear the SOR is not effecting your life as negatively as others. I hope it stays that way for you.

    6. FredFred

      About that make up a name part. Maybe you don’t have to, but in my state all internet identifiers must be reported within 3 days. I did not use under my real name and somehow they still identified me within 24 hours. I assumed it was through the email address that I am required to report.

    7. Avatard

      Being on probation i am not allowed to date (or have sex) without prior approval from my agent. Nothing more romantic than discussing one’s intimate personal relations with the government, Welcome to the machine.

    8. AvatarRich

      Actually POF isnt that bad of a site if you were out the fakes. I met my wife through the site years ago. We’ve been married for over six years now, and we have two children. I was honest to her about my past, and thank god she was someone who gave me the benefit of the doubt, instead of writing me off due to gow society views us. I guess it also helped her last boyfriend was a compulsive liar, and my truthfulness, especially in my situation, impressed her.

    9. AvatarMaestro

      (reposting because I forgot to click the “I’m Not A Robot” thingy. Hope it doesn’t get posted twice by mistake..

      POF (Plenty of Fish) doesn’t have a SO ban. I know, I’ve used it. I even paid for a membership for a short time until I realized it was pointless to pay for an already FREE service. The paid membership just allows you to see if the person you messaged read the message.
      But I wouldn’t recommend POF. Too many fakes and even more who are just flakes and use it as an ego boost.
      Also, OkC (Ok Cupid) is free to message people. They do have a ban on SO’s though so just make up a name. Screw this crap that we can’t continue living our lives. I’m sick of it

    10. AvatarMaestro

      Yeah, you don’t use the email that the bullies have. Make one up. Even go to the library and create one on Google or Yahoo.

      I really hate playing this game of hide and seek with the probation dept but enough is enough.

      If they have an ounce of intelligence (which they don’t) they’d know that it doesn’t take a previously convicted sex offender to do something of a sexually offending nature.
      So with that knowledge, why don’t they just shut down ALL social media and then they’ll have nothing to complain about and can sleep easy

    11. FredFred

      I am not on probation. Its the law that says I must report all internet identifiers. Failure to do so is a 4 year felony. That is not a risk I recommend anyone take.

    12. AvatarAllen W.

      Chris, I understand your frustration. My question is do you disclose to them before they do the search? and if so are you making sure to address what they will see if they do the search? I have never had a problem finding a girlfriend and keeping them. I even met a woman and her and I were getting to know each other very well then she told me about her ex husband and what he did to her daughter… OMG!!! I was so freaked out at this point. I tried to distance myself from her and end the building relationship because I had not told her about my past.. Then one day she put me on the spot and demanded I talk to her and tell her what my plans were with our relationship. So ok I bit the bullet and did a disclosure to her. I was so flipping scared about her reaction.. especially since she works for the same company as me and afraid what she would tell everyone. To my surprise she didn’t jump up and run out of the room.
      Keep your chin up and be proud to be who you are today. You are not your past, You are not your mistake. Yes you made a mistake but that is not who you are today.

    13. FredFred

      Very well said. I like to say that my past doesn’t define who I am now. I tend to meet the woman first and see how I like her, but I make sure to make her aware of this by the 2nd date for a couple reasons, but mainly because I would rather get dumped now before the relationship progresses too far.

      I was very nervous when I told my last girlfriend, but we relieved by her reaction. She trusted me and even her ex husband was accepting and allowed me to be part of his kids lives. I really appreciated that. It was a very encouraging sign that not everyone is ignorant.

      I do wish that dating sites didn’t have policies banning us though. These days most matches are found online and we are restricted in that way. I joined once and thought everything was cool. Then they sent me an email explaining that because of status on the SOR they are deleted my account and didn’t give me a refund. I have yet to find a dating site that does not ban us. Craigslist doesn’t count as a dating site.

    14. Avatarallen

      I’ve had an account on POF for a long time.

    15. AvatarMaestro


      If you’re on Probation, those idiots don’t want you to have a partner. They’d rather we never engage in sexual intercourse ever again. And that makes me wonder what the probation officers and “SO Treatment” providers do in their own sex lives. They come off as all prim and proper but I bet they are all animals in the bedroom.
      Oh, and since “boys will be boys”, I’ve literally HEARD police officers on several occasions talk sexually explicit about women who pass them by. How have I heard this so up close and personal? Back when I was a teen, my uncle at the time was a police officer and of course him and his buddies would gather for sporting games on TV and the way these guy talked made me want to take a shower! It was THAT dirty.
      Now imagine the MALE probation officers for SO’s. Guys are guys, like it or not. How do these men dictate our sex lives while talking all kinds of sexual nonsense when they’re alone together?

    16. AvatarChris

      Yes the PO told me that it was illegal to go to any dating website, also illegal to have my profile in professional sites like LinkedIn, of course Facebook, Twitter, etc are BIG NO NO. They put me in probation for five years even though what I heard from the judge was that it was time served. I tried to look for lawyers who could help but they were all no good. I was told that any sex offender in NC or WAke county to be more specific have to be in FIVE years of post release supervision. It was a big surprise and my lawyer at the time couldn’t get over my case sooner.

    17. AvatarLM

      They (law enforcement,the media, judges, child safety advocates) DON’T CARE.

      —–> “I only care about the victims.”

  7. AvatarChuck

    In Illinois I was told at sentencing that I would not have to register. The judges written order included several check boxes, one of them if checked saying required to register. It was clearly not checked while other boxes were checked. After serving 8 months in prison I was released and told the laws had changed and I would have to register for 10 years. After 10 years I was told that the laws changed and I would have to register for 15 years, and after 15 years I was told that I have to register for lifetime due to law changes. I had no due process and Illinois has no deregistration laws. I am disabled and just survive on under 600 per month public aid so I can’t hire an attorney to defend my rights and there are no pro bono attorneys within 100 miles of central IL . I would like to join a class action to get off this inhuman registry that I have been on for 16+ years.

  8. AvatarDave the RSO

    Public humiliation is one of the oldest punishments used in any society (scarlet letter etc..) this is documented so how can they even try to say it is not punishment. Add to this discrimination in employment, and housing. The hopeless disadvantage in finding a life partner. The constant threat of danger from vigilantes and you are an idiot if you really believe this is not punishment. This is made even more unfair by the fact that everyone is grouped together in the same basket regardless of their offence. I am not going to accept the government and society assuming anything about me without due process especial if what they are assuming has never happened in my past. The government is not aloud to assume anything about anyone else so this is simply a violation of equal protections, and due process, among other things like double jeopardy punishment. I think the problem with this fight is we keep bringing forth one argument at a time instead of listing all of the constitutional violations at once so the powers that be can see just how many ways the registry is wrong. It is easy to make up some BS when there is just one argument but when there are 4 or 5 it gets allot more difficult to lie and debunk them all.

  9. AvatarSam

    In criminal law, punishment is described as, ‘Any pain, penalty, suffering, or confinement inflicted upon a person by the authority of the law and the judgment and sentence of a court, for some crime or offense committed by him, or for his omission of a duty enjoined by law.’ See Cummings v. Missouri, 4 Wall. 320, 18 L. Ed. 356; Featherstone v. People, 194 111. 325, 02 N. E. 084; Ex parte Howe, 20 Or. 181, 37 Pac. 530; State v. Grant, 79 Mo. 129, 49 Am. Rep. 218. ( Doesn’t the registry life fit this description? No other criminal is subjected to the life or the abuse of the ‘released’ sex offender. I believe there is enough documentation to show that the registry inflicts pain, penalties, suffering and confinement!

    Originally, when the registry came into being it was founded on a well-intended idea to protect and inform the public from violent or habitual sex offenders but it has, like most government regulations and laws, morphed into this monster we have today. It treats all SOs as unwilling, unable or incapable of reintegrating safely back into society despite all research to the contrary. It places all SO in a one-size-fits-all-bucket regardless of their offense and regulates them to the farthest outer fringe of society. The registry may not have started out as punitive; however, it has evolved into being punitive.

    Wendell Berry wrote, “When going back makes sense, you are going ahead.” It’s time to go back and examine the original intent of the registry, throw out the emotional baggage,the fear mongering, the pseudoscience, and look purely at the facts and research. Because, if you ask, ‘Is the registry doing what it was originally intended to do?”, I believe you will find the answer is a resounding ‘no’.

    It’s time to start over folks so we all can move forward….

    1. AvatarRon

      This practice is nothing more than political preemptive posturing with biased concentration on a unfavorable group, which subsequently creates an hyperbole of irreversible influence reasoned by congressional expediency. Even the evidence presented and ignored for its validity by the SCOTUS, stands as bonafide statistics, unchecked and unchanged even in the face of its erroneous implications and false analogies.
      For something to stand as true yet be verified as false and continued to be allowed to stand is purely blind justice. At every judicial level, plaintiff counsels and defense parties alike, all have been able to disprove the embellished rate of recidivist within the realm of sex offenders and relentlessly have not one competent court challenge these very measures and impositions until now.. Why??? because of the rapid or cyclic rate of arrest and attrition of the accused and convicted
      In connection with draconian and drastically increasing measures presented at every congress session available. This has become the primal true reasoning to keep congress members jurisprudent and justifiable in today’s legislative culture, which has also become a benign bargaining tool. The social standard is set. Banish the defenseless, overrule the oppress and ignore the indignant for their lives matter less to all.

    2. Avatar72FLH

      at least people onthis page are thinking about ways to abolishing these crazy punishments

    3. AvatarMildred

      Well said Sam. But no only that, what about the millions of dollars that the registry costs to tax payers? If there are predators that are determined to be true threat to children, put them behind bars for life. We all know that that is not the case in a vast majority of cases. There a big number of innocent individuals on those lists, and those who did an offense are greatly repented and have learned their lesson. They will not do it again and that is what studies reveal over and over. The rate of recidivism is very low. The registries are not truly protecting children because the vast majority of those who did an offense, said offense was against someone from their own family or very close to them, not to a stranger. Also, when someone commits an offense, the purpose of the judicial system is to rehabilitate the person after he paid for his offense and release him back to society and they are able to move on and live their lives in peace if they want to. That is not true for sex offenders. A sex offender (SO) never finishes paying for his offense.

      If you commit any other crime, once you pay for your offense, you are a free man and can move on. Your neighbors will never know what you did unless you tell them. That is not what happens to sex offenders. They cannot move on when they cannot find a house for rent or a job. No one wants to employ or rent to a SO and everyone will know that you are one because that information is disseminated on the Internet and everyone has access to the Internet. That is not a punishment, but a big one and a humiliation, not only for the SO, but for his children and all loved ones. I hope that Colorado takes precedent on accepting that the Registry is a punishment, an additional punishment to those who had already paid their dues to society and deserve a second chance to move on.

  10. AvatarPatrick

    Good golly miss molly…I could actually be off the registry before half the murders out there are out of jail and free to walk the streets? F#*$….wouldn’t that be something.

  11. Avatartim

    No life, liberty, or property unless you tell them what they want know, if its not a punishment, then its pure slavery. American citizens dont have to tell the government anything unless they receive a benefit. What benefit do you receive under a sora, None. They own you lock stock and barrel and the 13th amendment only provides for slavery as a punishment. Its clear, you have no right to life, liberty or property as a sex offender in this fascist nation.

  12. AvatarMildred

    I hope that the group wins the case. The sex registry is definitely a punishment. Some people must be registered for life and the decision was made retroactive. Meaning that any individual who was to be registered for 5 or 10 years at the time they were sentenced, now may need to be registered for life. In Pennsylvania for instance, the Federal Sex Registration called SORNA was not adopted until the end of 2011, however, even those who were sentenced before that, if they were serving time or in parole at the moment, they were subject to the SORNA registration, the way the Federal rules impose it. Even though that was not part of the disclosure or the sentence. What is even worse is that some charges that were (and still are) considered misdemeanors for the state, when they were compared with the SORNA rules back in 2011/2012, were classified as Tier III by the state of Pennsylvania. Therefore, a good number of individuals with misdemeanors are Tier III, which mandates that they are registered as SO for life. If that was not part of their sentence or that was not part of the state law at the moment or their sentences, why these individuals with misdemeanor offenses have to be registered as SO for life?

    1. AvatarRon

      If one were to draw a line and connection to the stipulatory requirement that most states impose on offenders, to pay an annual or quarterly fee for registry requirements, then retroactively you are forcing someone to pay an unanticipated cost on something masked as regulatory, which thus becomes criminally punitive if absconded or intentionally ignored. So subseqentally this administrative necessity conditionally ensnares or garners criminal conduct if not complied. It is said, that one could void a mobile phone contract in certain states, if what was agreed to was retroactively raised by merely one cent of the agreed understanding. In reflection of consumer clauses compared to criminal acceptance of plea bargaining or a conditional acceptance of guilt it is understood what restrictions and rights are entailed upon the signing of court documents. What is not written in black and white, is the potential or perpetual arbitrary effect, ones conviction can sustain even after proven rehabilitation. The true effect of this administrative requirement is parlayed as good sounding and
      reasonably non-infringing, which is obviously false infamously from the registrants individual experiences as well as thier family members
      and friends. It perhaps is time to revisit the restructuring of these laws and convey to the community at large how biased and baseless this requirement is to undeserving citizens.

  13. Avatartim

    Criminal enterprise, any group or organization that uses threat of force, or actual force to deny persons their rights to life, liberty or property. The 13th Amendment states, slavery nor indentured servitude shallmexist in the united states except as a punishment for a crime duly convicted of. This means if you commit a crime you can go to jail or prison. But after that you are able to rejoin society and live as you did before a person committed a criminal act. Pursuant to these well established laws sex offenders are being subjected to unlawful slavery and indentured servitude since they cannot exercise any of their 1st amendment rights unless they inform the local, state, and federal authorities or go to prison.

    Slavery is also illegal pursuant to federal statute chapter 77 united states code as is indentured servitude. Persons who commit sex offenses are contractually bound to provide any and all information demanded by any spjudiciary body at any time and are clearly in custody pursuant to well established law.

    Now if any reasonable person wants to claim these persons are not slaves, they would be foolish. No one needs to use any form of fact finding to make this judgment. If any person doesnt understand that when you have to tell someone what your doing or go to prison, you are either a fool, or just a pawn.

    The 2d amendment states this nation is a free state, you gotta be kidding. This nation has every right to punish, but when its over, its over. Well at least it used to be.

  14. Avatartim

    Weak people make weak laws.

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