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CO: Englewood’s Sex Offender Residency Restriction’s Ruled Unconstitutional [UPDATED]

DENVER – In a case brought by ACLU attorneys, a federal district court yesterday invalidated an Englewood ordinance that restricts where persons convicted of certain sex offenses can live, ruling that the ordinance violates the Colorado Constitution.

Englewood’s ordinance makes it a crime for persons convicted of certain sex offenses to live within 2000 feet of any school, park, or playground, or 1000 feet of any licensed day care center, recreation center or swimming pool, or any property located next to a bus stop, walk-to-school route, or recreational trail.

Judge R. Brooke Jackson ruled that the ordinance “leaves essentially no place for offenders to live” and pushes sex offenders into neighboring cities, causing an impermissible conflict with “the state interest in the uniform treatment, management, rehabilitation, and reintegration of sex offenders during and after state supervision.” Full Article (CO ACLU)

UPDATE Aug 27: Englewood to appeal sexual offender decision

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This is a remarkable decision that clearly states that cities cannot pass residency restrictions which effectively ban all registrants from living within its boundaries. The decision uncovers the pretense that the City of Englewood, Colorado, was hiding behind, that is, the restrictions were merely “a zoning ordinance” and uncovered that the City’s true goal was to rid itself of all sex offenders. The decision also notes that a result of the city’s ordinance was “to push sex offenders into neighboring cities…As one city sees its neighboring cities adopt restrictions, local legislatures may start ‘scrambling to outmaneuver each other with highly restrictive ordinances designed to banish registered sex offenders from their communities.'” We will spread the word about this case widely and hope that others will help in this endeavor so that California cities, such as the City of Cypress, repeal their existing residency restrictions. Finally, many thanks to the Colorado ACLU for filing this lawsuit!

The dominoes keep on falling…

Its a HomeRun……..HomeRun ….defend and protect the
Constitution for all…..thank you ACLU for reminding those….
Don’t mess with the people’s Constitutional Rights…….
Outstanding …..Outstanding .

Could not be happier … After reading the documents hopefully this will wake some Orange County cities up! There aren’t enough words for what Janice (& TEAM) have done and the unpopular FIGHT they have taken on! TY!!

I think this is a really good decision, but an even better suit. ACLU Colorado really did it’s homework in filing the suit and gave the court no option but to overturn the ordinance. I think that much of that work is usable in a suit in any other state. However, the Federal District Court only ruled that the Englewood ordinance was in conflict with the Colorado State Constitution and was silent on the federal issues of ex-post facto or due process. I also note that the court awarded the plaintiff attorney fees as the prevailing party.

The MAJOR problem here is that while this was federal court, the ruling was based on the Colorado Constitution, so does not necessarily carry over to any other state. This is good, but it really is not much because it is limited to one state — and the article does not give the necessary details to even know if it can apply any place else.

The article says the court said that the residency restrictions they imposed would ban all sex offenders, and as such was unconstitutional. (The plaintiff was told no sex offenders were allowed to live any where in that town!) But the article doesn’t give us all the details of how it is that there was no place at all where a registrant could live. It also doesn’t say how many places would be necessary in order to be constitutional — that is, if they had five locations where registrants could live, would that make the law constitutional? I believe the challenges here in California have actually suggested that hardly any places are available. Even from what this article says, that “hardly” could be enough to make it constitutional.

It seems to me that in California, they have been conscious of not making a 100% outright ban, and have left at least a few places available so they can defend against this very kind of ruing as in this Colorado case. As such, this Colorado case would have no effect in California.

I am very happy to hear this ruling. But I don’t think it so significant since it is based strictly on a 100% ban, and because even that is not based on the federal constitution but only on the Colorado constitution. Why ever didn’t the ACLU argue this on the basis of the federal Constitution — as ruling for that could have been much more widely useful?

(Sorry, I will not be in a position for a couple of week to be able to access and open big files, such as the actual opinion in this case. So I can go only by the article.)

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x