Judge Jacqueline Silbermann ruled Tuesday the 12 had been denied an examination and hearing to determine if they needed to be confined in a mental institution. She ordered court-appointed doctors examine the 12 as soon as possible, the New York Times reported.
"The governor and state officials have a very valid concern about the risks posed to the public by repeat offenders," Silbermann said. "Nevertheless, that some of the petitioners may involuntarily have been placed in the mental health system by executive fiat is a possibility which this court cannot ignore."
Pataki, frustrated by the state Assembly's refusal to pass a bill allowing involuntary confinement of sex offenders, ordered the 12 held.
A Pataki spokesman said the ruling would be appealed.
"The court is granting convicted sexual predators more rights than law-abiding New Yorkers," Pataki said in a statement.