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ACSOLCalifornia

CA: Registrant and Family Challenge Halloween Ordinance

Today a lawsuit was filed in federal district court challenging a city law that requires sex offenders (“registrants”) on Halloween to post a sign on the front door of their homes, to refrain from decorating their homes, to extinguish all lights outside their homes and to refrain from answering the door to trick-or-treaters. The lawsuit asserts that the law, adopted by Simi Valley law, violates the federal and state constitutions and requests that the court block enforcement of that ordinance.

There are a total of four plaintiffs in the case, including one registrant, his mother, his brother and his daughter. All four plaintiffs are residents of the same home in Simi Valley.

“Not only is the City of Simi Valley violating the federal and state constitutions, its actions are inconsistent with a federal court’s ruling issued five years ago,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci. “In that decision, a U.S. District Court judge concluded that the same requirement violated the First Amendment and placed registrants and their families in danger on Halloween night.”

The stated purpose of the Simi Valley ordinance is to “protect children from the dangers posed by registered sex offenders convicted of offenses against minors” on Halloween. However, there are no reported cases of a child being assaulted while trick or treating by a registered sex offender on Halloween in the state of California.

A 2009 study, “How safe are trick-or-treaters” concluded that the findings of a 9-year review “suggest that Halloween policies may in fact be targeting a new urban myth similar to past myths warning of tainted treats.” The contents of the study, conducted by nationally recognized expert Jill Levenson and others, can be found online at http://sax.sagepub.com/content/21/3/363.abstract.

Related (with link to complaint)

http://www.vcstar.com/story/news/local/communities/simi-valley/2017/09/18/federal-lawsuit-challenges-simi-valley-halloween-sex-offender-law-second-time/677265001/

Join the discussion

  1. Nicholas Maietta

    Wait, did we just time travel back more than 5 years now?

    • Eric Knight

      I’m curious as to the connection of this case and the original case myself. Was it a matter of enforcement vs. non-enforcement that left the law intact but pragmatically non-existent, and now the lawsuit is to official knock it off the books?

  2. KM

    Janice,

    You are a brave woman to be the advocate for these issues. Im sure it is having a detrimental effect on your reputation in the general public sphere and in our professional community.

    Still, I hope You have a back up plan for yourself when these fights are over.

    • jayjay

      What – being known as “the pedophile lawyer” is not good for business 🙂 ?

      Seriously… I have been in this game for a long time. Someone like Janice Bellucci was completely unthinkable not long ago. It should be pointed out how valuable it is to not only have a strong, determined leader like this, but also one who has a law license and is doing this instead of pulling down $X00/hour doing what they are trained to do. I seriously doubt there is a life as a general attorney after this.

      It is also of great importance that from what one is to understand that she has no stake in this. No relative, friend or loved one on the registry. Let’s just trust she is trying to get maximum results for the greatest number of people possible. She has stated repeatedly that the end game is to abolish the registry, even while playing wackamole along the way. Like in Simi Valley.

      More important than our gratitude, one must assume that Atticus Finch would approve. God speed, Janice Bellucci!

      • norman

        Without Janice and company I don’t doubt for a minute that CA wouldn’t mirror states like FL and NC.
        God Bless Janice and her crew…

    • Sunny

      The majority of the legal community knows that specific areas of practice do not necessarily define a person. Attorneys on opposite sides of an issue, including prosecutors and defense attorneys, will make passionate arguments in court and try to undermine their opposition, but will then go to lunch together after the hearing and have a friendly chat. The relationship is not as adversarial as you might imagine. I have no doubt Janice would be in high demand to work for any criminal defense practice. She’s made a name for herself and had some major successes. That translates to tremendous opportunity in the realm of legal practice. Public opinion is moot. If attorneys lost their career outlook over defending unpopular defendants there would not be many attorneys in this country. Look at OJ’s attorney, he’s one of the highest paid and in-demand attorneys. Also you assume that civil rights of registrants will always be viewed as unpopular. The attorneys representing the Loving couple in Virginia (1967), Mary Bonauto with the recent marriage equality decision, and so on, took up these matters when they were unpopular. That’s the point – if our rights were popular, we wouldn’t need to defend ourselves. Janice is a trailblazer and will be remembered as such.

  3. NPS

    “To ‘protect children from the dangers posed by registered sex offenders convicted of offenses against minors’ on Halloween.”

    Right…the same old adage. I do recall a few years back in Orange County, where police were strictly enforcing Operation Boo, District Attorney T-Rack’s beloved pet project. Meanwhile, in Santa Ana, on Halloween night, 3 girls were hit by a drunk driver during their trick-or-treat outing. The twin girls died. No one was assaulted by RCs, though. Perhaps if LE spent more time patrolling the streets rather than harassing registrants, those 2 girls would be alive today.

  4. Simi Safety Issues

    As a RC in Simi Valley, it’s amazed me that none of the registrants has had an actionable injury by the public on their property because of Simi’s “no light” policy on Halloween. There are areas of the City still without street lights. Turning off all outside lights creates hazards for the public. Note that kids do “cut through” yards during Halloween… and registrants yards are pitch black. It would be too bad if the City were the cause of an injury to a child, and had to pay a substantial sum, because of its political grandstanding and this unfounded ordinance.

    • 7mot

      Here is a novel idea … have the parents go with the trick or treat ers and supervise them Might cut down on vandalism during Halloween Night and BIG kids taking candy from LITTLE kids.

  5. Not Really

    It is good to see the whole household in on the action.

  6. It doesn't work

    My attorney is a much older gentleman. He has been a defense attorney LONG, along, Long before this sex offender hysteria. He is furious over what this sex offender thing has become. He says a harsh sentence for a harsh crime. But Halloween laws etc, etc? There is no need. I’ve been to court post sentence (don’t ask) with him and he is great. The rediculesness was dismissed.

  7. USA

    This is about the dumbest law I’ve ever heard of! What about passing a law regarding Christmas? Thanksgiving? Shopping at a mall? Curfews? Special license plates? Chip implantation? Webcam monitoring? GPS? Wardrobe? This is really dumb! If you watch the news like I do (no offense to teachers or women), but there has been case after case in the news regarding female teachers having relationships with boys? Yet, they want to ban us from schools? Who comes up with these ideas?

  8. Double A

    Kids are more likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than attacked by a registrant. I’m also sure that’s probably true for the other 364 days of the year.

  9. Not Really

    What if the registrant was dropped as a party and all that was left was the others in the house? Could it set precedent? Since the law isn’t being enforced this might be the perfect test case without dire consequences for the household. The facts are plain and simple and the harms to innocent bystanders are obvious.

  10. michael

    You have a higher chance of getting a razor blade in your apple than attached by a RSO. This year im off parole and every news story on local news channel websites I will post …. (you see in previous years I wasnt allowed on the internet) (But hmm I know about stories in past years on them go figure lol)… Time to unleash some counter words on the lame news channels here in san diego about their drama!!)

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