Megan's Law Notifications Resumed

A federal appeals judge Wednesday cleared the way for state authorities to resume warning residents about sex offenders who live nearby.

Judge Maryanne Trump Barry of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia set aside an April court order freezing Megan's Law notifications until a dispute over how these notifications were being conducted could be resolved.

The order was imposed after the state Public Defender's office filed a lawsuit alleging that sex-offender information was being illegally leaked by residents, and that confidentiality rules were haphazardly enforced.

Barry and two other federal appeals judges will ultimately decide the issue. While Wednesday's decision gives no official indication how the panel will rule, it suggests that a majority believes guidelines presented by state Attorney General John Farmer will prevent leaks.

"My office will notify the 21 county prosecutors today that they can restart the notification process," Farmer said late Wednesday.

Megan's Law is named for Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old Mercer County girl who was raped and murdered in 1994 by a convicted sex offender who lived across the street.

The law requires sex offenders to register with authorities when they leave prison in New Jersey or move into a neighborhood. Officials then can alert neighbors, who are under court order not to circulate the information.