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Two juveniles, convicted of indecent assault charges, lost an appeal on a claim that listing their names publicly on Massachusetts’s sex offender registry violated their constitutional rights. The Massachusetts Appeals Court, in an opinion written by Appeals Court Judge Rudolph Kass, upheld the denial of the appeal by Plymouth County Juvenile Court Judges Robert F. Murray and John P. Corbett. The two juveniles were convicted of indecent assault charges on a child under age 14. Although the registry was enacted following their pleas to delinquency, the appeals judges maintained “the constitutional adequacy of a plea, however, does not require that a defendant be advised of consequences that are contingent or collateral to the plea. That one … might be subject to the registration and notification provisions of the sex offender act is but one of the many contingent or collateral consequences,” wrote Kass. Plymouth County Assistant District Attorney Mary E. Mullaney said she was not surprised the judges saw the listing of the youths’ names publicly as insufficient to their constitutional claim. “I think the reason the case went our way was that [listing the names] was a collateral effect of the plea, and that’s pretty clear from the case law,” said Mullaney. EROSION OF CONFIDENTIALITY Further, Kass cited state law Chapter 119, Section 60A as indicating “even prior to the enactment of the sex offender act, juvenile records could be made public … The traditional confidentiality of juvenile court records, which was explicitly eroded when the 1996 amendment of Section 60A excluded the court records of indicted juveniles, was further eroded implicitly when the Legislature established the sex offender registration and community notification requirements.” However, as stated in the appeals decision, the juveniles’ contended, “the subsequent enactment of the sex offender act fundamentally changed the rules of the game. They pleaded guilty because of the confidentiality of juvenile records … Had the juveniles known then what they know now — that they face the possible public disclosure of their juvenile records — they would not have disposed of their cases as they did.” BRANDED FOR LIFE Saugus, Mass., attorney Alba Doto Baccari, who represented the two juveniles in their appeal, said both at the time of their trial and at the appeal that legislation on the sex offender registry “was not in a form known to counsel” to indicate juvenile offenders’ names would be included along with those of adults. “At the time, there was no way the average individual could find out about these two people [otherwise],” she said. “I think it’s horrible — we call them juveniles, and treat them differently because they are juveniles, but then put them on an adult scale,” Baccari added. “They’re branded for a lifetime.”

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