- Associated Press - Thursday, June 30, 2016

LAS VEGAS (AP) - The names of about 5,200 registered Nevada sex offenders are due to be posted Friday on a state website, after a judge in Las Vegas rejected a last-ditch plea from attorneys who argue that publication will irreparably harm offenders whose cases had previously been deemed low-risk.

“Why so late?” Clark County District Court Judge Douglas Smith asked Thursday about an emergency request filed Monday on behalf of 17 unnamed plaintiffs seeking to block enactment of a 2007 state law.

The lawyers, Margaret McLetchie and Alina Shell, said they pressed the effort for at least a temporary restraining order after offenders began receiving notices June 1 that their names would be posted July 1.

The judge said the filing amounted to “imposing on the court system,” with artificial urgency ahead of a long-known deadline.

Smith said he wouldn’t stop the state from publishing names. But he scheduled a July 12 hearing on the constitutionality of the state law.

If errors are found, “We can take the people off who need to be taken off,” the judge said. “It isn’t necessarily an emergency.”

McLetchie and Shell argue that posting offenders’ names, photos and addresses is unconstitutional because it treats offenders with similar convictions differently; it represents double-jeopardy punishment for the same crime; and because the state has no method to correct errors or misapplication of the law.

Matthew Platshorn, a married father of two from Reno, testified that he feared his personal and professional reputation would be harmed and his family will be endangered when his name is made public.

Platshorn, 40, isn’t one of the 17 plaintiffs seeking to have the law declared unconstitutional. He said he has spoken publicly in the past about pleading guilty in January 2010 to felony distributing pornography involving minors, and serving two years in prison.

He now heads a nonprofit, the Prison Recovery Network, that supports ex-felons and their families.

“I believe it damages my credibility as the leader of a nonprofit,” he said of the expected posting. “I believe it also puts my two girls and my wife at risk.”

In their filing, McLetchie and Shell noted the state expects reclassification to expand the list of top-danger Tier 3 offenders from 239 people to 3,014. The category includes violent rapists and sexual predators considered to be the greatest threat to the community.

Another 1,790 people, like Platshorn, will be classified as mid-range Tier 2 offenders and their names will be released. Their offenses include felony convictions and crimes against children resulting in sentences of at least one year in prison.

The names of another 426 of the state’s 1,646 lower-level Tier 1 offenders are also due to be published. The category includes people whose crimes involved children, but who were assessed as posing a low risk of re-offending. Their names weren’t made public in the past.

About 1,300 of the 6,512 names in the sex offender registry aren’t due to be published.

“Once that website goes live, your honor, it will do irreparable harm,” McLetchie argued. “Once the harm is done it will be impossible to undo it.”

The overall number of offenders statewide this month was 6,512, according a June 10 tally by Nevada state Attorney General Adam Laxalt.

In a statement, Laxalt on Thursday pointed to years of litigation over challenges to the law, and said it will be enforced beginning Friday.

The notification provision was approved by the state Legislature in 2007 to comply with federal law. The state measure applies to offenses dating to 1956.

Court challenges went to the Nevada Supreme Court and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, which ruled in February 2012 that the law didn’t amount to double-jeopardy retroactive punishment.

The 17 plaintiffs in the new case argue that the state high court said the matter hadn’t been fully developed in lower courts, and the federal appeals court didn’t address constitutional equal protection and separation of powers questions raised by the measure.

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