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California

CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS BAN ON CITY, COUNTY ORDINANCES

[Updated with media links] The California Supreme Court today denied review of a lower court’s decision that, in effect, bans cities and counties from enforcing ordinances that restrict where a registered citizen may be present or near.  Review by the Court was requested by the Orange County District Attorney.

“Today’s decision is a major victory,” stated CA RSOL President Janice Bellucci.  “Through its denial to review a lower court decision, the California Supreme Court has ruled that ordinances in more than 70 cities and 5 counties are preempted by existing state law.”

The Supreme Court’s decision also strengthens the five lawsuits filed recently in federal district courts against cities that have ordinances which contain presence restrictions.   The lawsuits have been filed against Pomona, South Lake Tahoe, National City, Carson and Lompoc.

“More than 105,000 registered citizens and their families may now lawfully visit public and private locations including libraries, museums, parks, beaches, and movie theaters,” stated CA RSOL board member and attorney Chance Oberstein.

The lower court decision for which review was denied was a challenge by the Orange County Public Defender Office of an ordinance adopted by the City of Irvine.  The challenge involved a registered citizen who was arrested and convicted of violating the ordinance when he played tennis in the city’s public tennis courts.

Related:
Park ban on sex offenders up to state, court agrees (OC Register)
Top Court Declines to Hear Case, Striking Ban on Sex Offenders in OC Parks (patch.com)
High court rejects appeal on sex-offender rules (Sacramento Bee)
Court refuses to review decision tossing out Orange County bans against sex offenders (SCPR)
Sex Offenders Can Roam More Freely Under California High Court Move (LA Weekly)

Join the discussion

  1. Robert Curtis

    Janice I didn’t receive notice where the party is going to be held…a thank you and congrads to you and your team is in order.

    It is my prayer that reason and compassion will have our leaders moving to do what is right not just what is popular and repeal the sex offender registry completely.

    We still have much work ahead, but this news is extremely encouraging! Blessings to all of you. It is fitting that this news came just after Easter Sunday. The Lord I’m sure also had a hand in this. Blessings to All.

  2. mike

    Did the O.C. District Attorney office overstep their boundary By chasing this lost cause to the door of the Supreme Court after the ‘County Park Ban’ author and Chairman of the Board of supervisors Shawn Nelson Stated they would not waste anymore Taxpayer money pursuing it? Is it the D.A.’s Job to pass law’s or simply enforce them? I guess the D.A.’s office has a bigger budget and are not worried about wasting taxpayers dollars.
    Please tell me this was the final chapter of these local presence restrictions and we can move on. If so, any city foolish enough not to pay heed to Janice’ simple request deserves what they get.

  3. G4Change

    AWESOME!!!!! Janice, et al: You have stood up and stared down tyranny victoriously! Congratulations! Now, may the dominoes begin to fall.

  4. Joe

    “Janice Bellucci, president of California Reform Sex Offender Laws, said of the pending appeal. “I think they’re foolish to do it. They’re wasting taxpayer money.” ” Jan 13, 2014

    Boooooooooomm!

    http://www.ocregister.com/articles/sex-597110-offenders-law.html

    • Janice Bellucci

      Thanks for remembering!

      • Joe

        No, thank YOU!

        I would like to kind of repeat what I wrote last January in case they ever visit this web site – a big shout of gratitude to the (overworked and underpaid) OC Public Defender’s office for a job well done, Attorney Dennis Riordan for his assistance in this matter, and most of all to the brave plaintiffs in these cases who SHOWED UP, STOOD UP AND SPOKE UP.

        Here I am including the players in the 5 lawsuits that are currently pending in Federal Court.

        You know who you are. Thank you.

    • Q

      Hi Joe:

      I love the comments on this article. After reading some of the comments stating some of the things full of baloney Tony has done I have to wonder why the FBI hasn’t arrested him and sent him to prison for a very long time. This poor excuse for a man is an outright criminal of the worst variety.

  5. Eric Knight

    Will this decision have any effect on the current suits against Pomona, S. Lake Tahoe, National City, Carson, and Lompoc?

    • none

      (correct me if I am wrong) I think so because those are “who is obeying the law”. This lawsuit is NOT about who is right or wrong.
      It is clear that those cities are NOT obeying the law and enforcing illegal activities.

    • James

      In all likelihood, they will be dismissed as moot. A court will not rule on an issue that has been resolved in some manner.

  6. Q

    Janice, Chance, and the rest of the people that worked towards making this miracle possible; Congratulations and thank you.

    I think I’ll hit the hiking trails tomorrow in the county nature preserve that is right next to my residence.

  7. Tim

    Not dominos, but stubborn, ignorant, greedy apathetic, frightened people stand in the path towards freedom. Believe me, they do not like being knocked down and they are very powerful. Let’s use this as inspiration to give a little more to the cause. We have been the lifeless dominos that have fell to their laws. Those that have stood firm, protect the others. Thank you to all those who stood firm in the courtroom and kept the restrictions from burying us alive. Time we all stood a little more firm.

  8. VA Hall

    Excellent news!

  9. none

    I’d like to have a party at one of national city’s park!
    why? Their Mayor is so stubborn on fighting this!!

    Ill go and will even pick people up on the way down there.

    (https://www.facebook.com/groups/NationalCity619)

    • G4Change

      I vote for having a piñata that looks like Tony Baloney Rackauckas at the party.

      • Q

        Hi G4change:

        I say we have the Tony Rackauckas piñata and a Susan Kang Schroeder dart board and let all the children that were screwed by these presence restrictions go to town! It would also be nice to see a couple of Tony Rackauckas and Susan Kang Schroeder pin the tail on the jack asses. I’ll bet the kids would have hours of fun with those!

        • G4Change

          Sounds like a plan!!! 🙂

        • Q

          Hi G4Change:

          Towards the end of the day we could burn their likenesses in effigy as a show of support for all the people they and their kind have burned! 🙂

        • G4Change

          I’ll bring the lighter fluid!

  10. MM

    After having a terrible week (in more ways than words can express .. and nothing to do with being a RSO) … this FANTASTIC NEWS!

  11. none

    Sometime ago I wrote that Janice drew a line in the sand daring them to cross it. They did. Now look what they got for crossing the line.

    Time to fight back!!

    What’s next ?

    Removing the Megan’s law website?

  12. Someone who cares

    What a great accomplishment!! Janice, thank you for never giving up and fighting for what is right. Unfortunately, we will still be on probation for 3 years, and the PO clearly stated that he can NOT enter ANY park. He even had him repeat it….not sure if this victory will help us for now (I hope so), but I am sooo happy for everyone else. Thank You!!!

  13. J C

    WOOOO!! VICTORY! Time to go to the park with my toddlers without looking over my shoulder!!

  14. Eric Knight

    In all the celebration, there should be some sober reminders to put out.

    Technically, the Supreme Court did NOT uphold the lower court’s decision, but rather punted it back. This means that the only jurisdiction that the ban to ordinances can be enforced is in the court that rendered the original decision. In that regard, by no means is this decision “settled” in this regard.

    Granted, this gives more weight to our position, as it could signal to municipalities that to fight the law would be potentially more expensive, but technically, they aren’t breaking any court decisions if the municipality is outside the jurisdiction of the original court.

    Just my two cents, and hope that it doesn’t stop anyone’s resolve. Yes, the decision is better than if the court took the case and reversed the ban, but it’s nowhere near as good as if the case would have taken the case and decided in our favor.

    • FRegistryTerrorists

      Exactly and there is nothing stopping the state legislature from passing even more onerous laws in the future. This is a battle that must continue to be fought until Registry supporters are permanently disabled.

    • Anonymous Nobody

      Congrats and thank you Janice! You kicked butt. This helps to stop unconscionable expansion of disabilities to registrants. I am presuming the court also left the appellate decision published.

      However, I also thank Eric Knight — I was about to post the same point about this NOT being an upholding of the appellate ruling, and that the Supreme Court did not RULE anything, but Eric already did. Although, and correct me if I’m wrong, I think this does apply the appellate district ruling statewide, at least until the court should take other action.

      Just FYI for readers, when the high court chooses not to hear a case, that is, when they deny review, or let the appellate court ruing stand, that is not upholding that ruling, although it can have a similar effect sometimes. And in taking that action to deny review, the court is not making a ruling of any kind. They can have all kinds of reasons to deny review of a case, such as for strategic reasons they prefer to wait for another case that they can more easily bend to their preferences, or knowing that other appellate cases on the topic are pending they want to first see what those courts say before they proceed, or maybe they just don’t see it as a high enough priority issue to deal with at this time because they are overloaded with other cases they believe to be more important, or some other reason you might not even think of. Only they know why they take the action to let the lower court ruling stand, because they do not state a reason why.

      I now hope CA RSOL continues to pursue the other cities that have been sued over this — with the goal of bleeding them senseless and filling CA RSOL coffers for new battles. Please go beyond the limit and then even more to extract as much money from them as possible, try to get an unconscionable amount — so as to put the fear of god — I mean Janice (its really the same) — in cities across the state so that next time they hear Janice, they fear for their political lives. We need to get many millions of dollars from each and every city sued — enough to hurt them so others fear being hurt. Otherwise, going forward, cities will just consider a threat of a lawsuit as little more than routine business. This is very important because to go for the throat now can save a LOT of trouble down the line.

      RELATED, I encourage to next take on local authorities running home compliance checks without probable cause, As I have repeatedly stated in other threads, it seems to me that 290, even more clearly than these local bans on where registrants can be, specifically bars local authorities from doing home compliance checks; 290 seems to specifically preempt home compliance checks. It was not so specific with these location bans as it seems to be about compliance checks, as 290 specifically says your residence is PROVEN when you produce you driver’s license, state ID, or other listed “proof” of your residence when you register, and that the cities cannot demand anything more — a compliance check is a demand of more.

      • Eric Knight

        Well, with Janice taking it to cities in three of the four federal circuit courts in California, obtaining favorable rulings in those courts would most probably overcome much of the ambiguity that the SCOCA decided to punt on. Only the Northern Circuit Court is left without a case, although that can change shortly as, ironically, Grover Beach is in the Northern District.

        One of the biggest turndown cases has been the SCOTUS denial of cert in the 8th Circuits original Iowa decision allowing for residency restrictions, which essentially opened the floodgates for other jurisdictions around the country to enact the restriction zones. But that was a case that was not brought up that was against us, not for us.

        Of course, the big Kahuna of California cases in federal court remains the Prop 35 electronic identifier challenge. I don’t know why the 9th circuit is still sitting on that decision. I know Janice has said it’s a good thing, but to be blunt, that case should have been a relatively slam dunk decision in our favor before Christmas. It’s over 7 months now, and most cases are decided within 3-4 months. I’m still on pins and needles for that decision.

      • Q

        Hi Anonymous Nobody:

        I agree that compliance checks need to be challenged in a court of law, as they are a phenomenal waste of resources that is a needless cost on the taxpayer and places the public at risk every time they are out there chasing down registrants. However; I’ve been told by a reputable source; a criminal defense attorney specializing in working with registrants, that every time I go into the sheriff’s station to update my yearly registration I have met ALL legal requirements relating to registration.

        What does that mean for me as a 290 registrant? It means I have no legal requirement that says I have to submit to compliance checks. It means the next time they show up, and IF I decide to answer the door I will tell them I do not want to talk to them. Of course they will start lying through their teeth, telling me it’s the law; at which point I will say something like “there is no law, you have no mandate, here’s my attorney’s business card. If you want to talk to someone talk to him/her.” After they get all huffy and try to intimidate me with threats, I fully expect them to leave when they see I’m not taking the BS bait. Of course I’ll tell them at some point that it’s not personal, it’s a matter of exercising my rights. This means I will not give permission to come on to the property and will not consent to searches or answer any questions.

        • Anonymous Nobody

          Q, you said “however,” but actually we are in full agreement, saying the same thing.

          However :), I would extend it to mean that they cannot go to your home for a compliance check at all, without probable cause. They cannot just wily nilly come to your door any old time they want, speaking loud so the neighbors in an apartment building or next door can hear about your being a sex offender.

          Coming to your door to confirm something the law says they are not allowed to demand from you is illegal, and it is illegal harassment. If the matter is already finally PROVEN, as 290 says it has been, then any further contact about it would be harassing. You are being harassed if you have to answer the door and tell them you — or more likely have to argue with them — that you do not have to cooperate with them and they should go away. It is illegal for them to subject you to that.

        • Q

          Hi Anonymous Nobody :

          I think THEY think the mere fact of being on the registry is probable cause in their eyes. That’s why the DO come to my home for a “compliance check” without probable cause; they seemingly do this whenever they want. They rely and count on the registrants ignorance of their rights and the law. Every time they have shown up where I live the only thing they were trying to do was to get me to forfeit my rights. It is obvious their only intent is to get me to allow them to search the premises in the hopes of finding something to arrest me for.

          There is nothing I can be arrested for, but I don’t appreciate being treated like a criminal, or being spoken to like I’m some sort of suspect. I don’t appreciate these terrorists thinking they can just show up and violate my rights whenever they want. I stood up for myself, educated with facts, the last time they showed up, and this leveled the playing field tremendously. I intend to continue standing up for myself and take great satisfaction that it really bothers them that someone actually knows their rights, and armed with facts, is willing to resist their illegal activity and put them in check.

        • Anonymous Nobody

          Actually, I believe they KNOW it is not probable cause. I believe they feel they simply have a right to go to your door and ask anything they want. The walkway to your door is considered to be “implied public access.”

          Still, if 290 actually bars them from seeking more proof from you, then it is illegal for them to go to your door for a compliance check. That prohibition in 290 of seeking more from you directly overrides the implied public access for them to go to your door. It also makes it clear that you already have legally proven the matter, so it in addition becomes harassment for them to ask or demand again since they already have that.

      • none

        What about using the money and go to the HEART of this (do not collect $200) but collect the money on “free parking” ) and get rid of the Megan’s law website and get it down to only police “need to know” ?

        • Anonymous Nobody

          Nice but that is now a FEDERAL matter, as the federal government has jumped on the band wagon and now requires it of states, although not for all the offenses for which California requires registration nor for lifetime.

          This is one reason I advocate that instead of the inadequate tiers that were proposed last year, we simply conform to federal. Then we could redirect our efforts at the federal level to do as you are advocating here. We are so bogged down at the state level that we can’t even get to federal, and federal is now imposing more and more draconian things, even now interfering with all foreign travel of registrants.

      • Ron Lake County, CA

        I have compliance checks in my county. They can’t get through my fence to knock on my door. I am not on probation or parole for over 10 yrs now. But they do follow me around town and corner me to prove my residency even when I just shortly have provided my annual reg. verification documents. Once (5 yrs ago, long off probation) I had over 10 uniformed officers from the US Marshal’s Office, State Police and Sheriff Deputies were all surrounding my house for a compliance check. They were rude and not allowed inside my fence. Since then 2 neighbors put up camera systems pointing towards my house. They did not know that I’ve had my cameras pointed near them for over 13 years so far. I’m more afraid of them than they need to be afraid of me.

    • B

      If we go to court against some other city with a similar ordinance (and the differences are minor), the judge will follow the lead from the Irvine case or risk being overturned. Then the court will award court costs and the city will lose and will have to pay money (to RSOL). The better alternative will be to repeal their ordinance now. I think that within 3 months, all the presence restrictions will be gone.

    • Jeffrey McBride

      Eric’s analysis is both correct and incorrect.

      He is correct that the California Supreme Court did not uphold anything on Wednesday. The justices declined to hear D.A. Rackaukaus’s last-ditched attempt to save his signature agenda item.

      However, the Appeal’s Court decision in People v. Nguyen regarding preemption by state law over Irvine’s ordinance is published case law, and thus sets state precedence. This decision, which the California Supreme Court tacitly endorses by refusing to review, is the law of the state. Nguyen is not a jurisdictionally-specific decision, as Eric erroneously suggests. It controls. Whether municipalities repeal to avoid constitutionality headaches is up to them. Maybe this is what Eric meant.

      I, for one, hope Janice and her team continues to hammer local governments for federal violations of constitutional law that have nothing to do with state law preemption. Which means-yes, these ordinances are voided by state law. But they still violate our U.S. constitutional rights to free expression and due process, amongst so many other violations.

      We fight this fight until and unless society gets it that the United States Constitution applies to EVERYONE, no exceptions. Period.

      Jeffrey McBride, B.A.
      Paralegal Student
      University of California, Irvine
      Paralegal

      • Eric Knight

        I appreciate your correction with regard to state precedence, and in fact I actually would normally have the same pragmatic conclusion. This is especially true, based upon SCOTUS denying cert to a challenge to the 8th Circuit’s decision that allowed 2000 foot residency restrictions. The effect of that non-action essentially opened the floodgates of such ordinances to be implemented in states and municipalities across the country.

        However, you have clarified it with case law, which makes it more tenable. My only concern is the Barny Fife/Buford T. Justice clones in the rural California counties ignoring such case law, and still need to have Janice come in with the full throttle of the federal Constitution on their sorry butts.

      • Q

        Hi Jeffrey McBride:

        I was under the impression that the California Supreme Court decision to not hear Rackaukaus’s legal equivalent of a temper tantrum meant they were upholding their original decision; the end. And that their decision to not hear the cries of poor little Tony meant that all park, video arcade, etc presence restrictions were now illegal, and if anyone was arrested for violating one that hasn’t been repealed yet would easily win in court. I’m no legal expert, not by any stretch of the imagination, so could you please tell us what it means to the registrant ignorant of legalese, especially the ones living in a city or town that hasn’t been sued or has repealed or stayed their presence restrictions?

        I was also wondering if you have any thoughts on the common law (God’s Law) based judicial system we used to have as opposed to the precedent based system now in place.

        • Anonymous Nobody

          The high court neither upheld the appellate decision nor did it nix the appellate decision. It did not even tacitly endorse the appellate decision. All the high court did was choose not to deal with it in any manner, for reasons of its own that it did not state — maybe it agrees with the appellate decision, maybe it doesn’t, but it left it intact.

          So the appellate decision stands and now has statewide application — which is pretty much similar impact as if the high court had upheld it.

  15. Dr

    Thank you Janice and our brave Frank. You both did a great job. There is hope after all.

  16. brunello

    A happy result, but some caution is in order. A likely consequence is that the forces of reaction and political opportunism will sponsor a ballot initiative to put these presence restrictions in place in all of California. Crap law is all too easy to implement in California through the initiative process, Jessica’s law being the outstanding example.

    • steve

      At SOME POINT the registration process becomes overwhelmingly punitive. Passing something like that could be the tipping point.

    • Anonymous Nobody

      Yes, you are right. That is the problem of it being based on 290 preemption rather than based on an overriding Constitutional matter.

    • Eric Knight

      At which point Janice or Frank will be waiting on the doorstep of the Federal Court building the morning after the election with an immediate challenge, along with a stay which will most CERTAINLY be granted.

      • Tim

        I’m hoping there will be more there than just Janice and Frank, although they a definitely a winning team. I just feel the need to get out of the stands or the commentor’s box and join the ball game.

    • Joe

      A general parks ban for all was part of the initial language for Chelsea’s Law in 2010. It was replaced by the provision about those with offenses against children under 14 being prohibited from entering those areas while on parole (current state law and the basis for this recent ruling). This section does not authorize cities and counties from enacting their own presence restrictions (like Jessica’s Law (2006) does for residency restrictions).

      This was addressed by OCDA Chief of Staff Schroeder during the first hearing on the Parks Ban in Laguna Hills end of September 2011 (video is on the city web site). When asked about this her explanation about the reason for the substitution was that it was about “party politics”. Here is some more background about this http://permits.ci.laguna-hills.ca.us/sirepub/cache/2/rnoy4gju3upc44fkt52sekto/545204292014102401292.PDF

      Could a new law be introduced at the State level? Most certainly, but given that the general parks ban did not pass at a point when CA RSOL did not even exist (?) and at a time when pretty much any and all of these laws went through with precious little debate, a proposal like that seems unlikely to pass with the recent pushbacks and reversals.

  17. C

    The self-righteous John & Ken at KFI are about to talk about to talk about this if anyone cares to listen in http://www.iheart.com/live/KFI-177/?autoplay=true

  18. USA

    So, I do have to ask a point of clarification. Does this law also affect where someone may reside?

    • Anonymous Nobody

      This case was based on the state law preempting local ordinances registering where people can go. But the state law already restricts where registrants can live. This case does not reach that state law.

    • Janice Bellucci

      No, the CA Supreme Court and Court of Appeal decisions mentioned above do not address residency restrictions. They only address presence restrictions, that is, where a registered citizen may or may not visit (parks, libraries, museums, swimming pools, etc.). There are two cases pending before the CA Supreme Court regarding residency restrictions, People v. Moseley which has been there for more than 3 years and In re Taylor which has been there for more than 1 year. I don’t expect a decision from the court on those cases this year.

      • BSL

        What about dropping a friend off at a daycare job? Or visiting your sister for lunch where she works at a High School?

  19. Ron Lake County, CA

    But how do we overcome most people’s ignorance and closed mindlessness? People always want someone to hate. They still have the old books that lists the witches killed that were going to steal (or had stolen) children’s soul’s.

  20. BSL

    What about schools? Can I take my 8 year old to school? My sister is a teacher. Can I meet her for lunch? No one is talking about this. Only Parks, Libraries, Amusement Parks, ETC….. Janice?

  21. MM

    This is fantastic news! What, if anything … does this mean with residency restrictions … like in Cypress (Orange County, of course!) … do we smell victory there too???

  22. Brubaker

    Monumentous HomeRun …..whewwwwwwewwww….like a much needed 3run HomeRun to win…….its benchmark Homer …..wow …..and over that oc shop office in your face wrong….whewwwwwwwww.!!HomeRun

  23. j

    Could it be that the logical progression would be to go after certain LE agencies that post their own web information? This field is also occupied by state law and the state’s website should be the only authority on this matter. Again the state law issues the ultimate guidelines on dissemination of this information and should prevent other (local) jurisdictions from pursuing their own published information which is more sensationalist than practical in many cases.

    This section of law needs to be rewritten to prevent ANY commercial exploitation of this information, especially since much of what we have seen in the private sector is based on the same invalid assumptions that were built into this quagmire (body of law.)

    • Q

      HI j:

      I’m in total agreement. The private ones also need to be addressed; nationwide.

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