Sex Offender Free on Grammar Error

The man accused of killing a Georgia hiker is also the focus of an investigation in Florida that is probing the disappearance and death of a nurse.

Flaws in a federal sex-offender registration law left a criminal free in Kansas City, Mo.

The faulty law allowed seven-time convicted sex offender Terry L. Rich to be released from custody last month by Senior U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs when Rich’s lawyer brought attention to the defect, The Kansas City Star reported Wednesday.

Whether or not there was a legislative blunder, the wording should be enforced as written, until it is changed by Congress, Sachs said.

Rich, 59, reportedly has yet to be listed in the sex offender registration system required by state law.

Rich’s attorney reportedly argued the law excluded his client because Rich traveled between states in the past and the law only pertained to a sex offender who travels in the present tense.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Nelson asked Sachs to understand that Congress meant for the law to include all sex offenders, the Star reported.

I do NOT consider this a victory for my cause.

Source

Thanks, Ryan.

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6 responses to “Sex Offender Free on Grammar Error

  1. Has anyone dug up the law itself? I don’t understand how it could be written so poorly that someone could make an argument that is so manifestly ridiculous – “travel in the present tense”, forsooth!

  2. I’m live near KC. This offender ‘travelled’ to KC a few months before the law was passed. The law uses the word ‘travels’ not ‘travelled’ ; therefore he didn’t ‘travel’ between states after the law was passed. He’s not the only one–from the KC Star article, “Last year, more than 20 district court judges have issued widely differing opinions on whether the law applies…”

  3. This reminds me of the “million dollar comma” I heard about on NPR. Sad that no one copy edited that law. No, not a victory for the cause, but a way to show people that correct grammar does count- all the time.

  4. rpmason – thanks for the explanation. Sounds like the problem is one of scope, not grammar per se…. not that that mitigates the situation in any way.

  5. There’s nothing like a loophole. Lawyers live for crap like that. Subtle wording that they can use in the defense of a client who doesn’t deserve to be defended.

    Nobody wins, really.

  6. I would just like to note that I am NOT the sex offender, nor do I advocate offending sex. I don’t even know what sex entails. Something to do with ice cubes…?

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