Internet Law

Teen Sues Town Over ID on Online Arrest Log

A Rhode Island teenager is suing the town of Madison, Conn., for publishing his arrest at age 17 on an online arrest log.

Connecticut law requires that arrest records for those under age 18 “shall be confidential and shall not be open to public inspection,” according to the lawsuit filed in Superior Court in New Haven, the New Haven Register reported.

The plaintiff is identifying himself as John Doe in the suit to protect his privacy. Doe was arrested on third-degree assault charges in September 2008. Within days of the arrest, Doe’s name, birthdate and arrest info were publicly available on the Madison Police Department’s website. In October 2008, Doe’s lawyer, Diane Polan of New Haven, alerted the police department about posting and was told it would be removed.

While Doe’s charges were nolled by November of 2008, Doe’s info remained on the site through September of 2009 and is now available on several other sites, according to the lawsuit.

Polan says her client “has no conviction record, the case was resolved fairly quickly, but now it’s out there in cyberspace, I’d say, forever.”

Madison Town Attorney Floyd Dugas, who had not yet seen the suit, told the Register that “an honest mistake has been made, and it’s been corrected.”

Martin Margulies, a Quinnipiac Law School professor, told the Register that state laws such as the Connecticut one in question could be challenged as violating the U.S. Constitution since the Supreme Court have never conclusively decided what limits can be placed on the limit of truthful information.

“It may create a more compelling argument that there maybe should be some limits,” he said.

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