Court Rules On Sex Offenders

A Nevada Supreme Court panel has ruled that a former sex offender serving time for a non-sexual offense doesn't need a psychological certification before getting a parole.

Before sex offenders are released in Nevada, a "psych panel" must certify they aren't a serious danger to commit another sex-related offense.

The high court's 2-1 ruling favors Eric Todd Douglas, who was first convicted of attempted sexual assault in 1996. He was later paroled but re-arrested in 2005 for attempted burglary.

Douglas was re-certified for release on the attempted sexual assault charge and began serving time for attempted burglary. But that certification was a less stringent review designed to move him from one sentence to another, not to release him from prison.

When Douglas became eligible for parole on the burglary charge, he was told he had to go before a psych panel again. This time, the panel rejected him and Douglas sued, saying the state Parole Board had no right to make him go through a psychological evaluation as a sex offender for parole on a non-sexual conviction.

Justices Nancy Saitta and Michael Cherry ruled Douglas was right, and the state's interpretation of the law is so broad "it would produce absurd results."

Justice Bill Maupin disagreed, arguing the law clearly permits the Parole Board to demand a new certification when a sex offender is going to be released from prison.


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