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CA: Federal Court Limits Residency Restrictions to Parolees

A federal district court ruled on Dec. 22 that residency restrictions adopted by cities and counties may only be applied to registrants while on parole.  

“This is a significant victory for registrants and their families,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci.  “The Court’s decision dramatically reduces the ability of a city or a county to restrict where a registrant may live.”

According to the court’s decision, the general rule is that local governments are preempted by state law from adopting laws that restrict the daily lives of registrants because state law “fully occupies” the field of restrictions on a registrant’s daily life.  The decision also stated that although Jessica’s Law created an exception to that general rule, the exception is limited to registrants on parole due to the statutory context of that law. 

The court added that its decision is consistent with state court decisions which have determined that different provisions in Jessica’s Law are also limited to parolees.  The Dec. 22 decision is the first judicial determination regarding the authority granted to cities and counties by that law. 

In its decision, the court noted that the City of Adelanto conducted a public City Council Workshop during which the Mayor, City Attorney and Councilmembers made several derogatory comments regarding registrants including the following: sex offenders need to “get the heck out of town”, should be forced to relocate to a “leper colony”, and the City should hang “neon sign[s] in [the] windows” of registrants’ homes as well as “paint the street red in front of their house[s].” 

The court ruling is the result of a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by a registrant in the case which challenges residency restrictions in the City of Adelanto.  According to the lawsuit, registrants are prohibited from living in most of the city.  The case was filed in U.S. District Court, Central District of California in December 2016. 

After the court’s Dec. 22 ruling, the case will continue in order to address claims that the city’s residency restrictions violate the 14th Amendment and the ex post facto clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Decision

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Great job, Janice, Chance, and team!

I especially am encouraged that the courts have now included derogatory quotes from a City Council Workshop. This now runs concurrent with the thoughts of Colorado Judge Matsch of that people are making the registry cruel and unusual. Also on the same thought is Vermont Judge Hoar on residency restriction: “What the City has done here is effectively to declare an entire class of persons to be a public nuisance, by simple virtue of their physical existence,” Hoar wrote. “Plaintiffs have been convicted and punished; the City cannot now say to them, anymore than they could to any other citizen, ‘we don’t want your type in our town.’”

Then factor in Justice Kennedy’s parenthetical in Peckingham about people continuing to serve such restrictions long after their custody – which is what VT Judge Hoar identified as well.

Cruel and unusual. Yes. Involuntary servitude b/c the registry is not punishment. Yes. The registry is unconstitutional. Yes.

Hmmm, that attorney for plaintiff name seems familiar. 🤔
Congratulations, Janice!! What an amazing ruling and what a fantastic Christmas gift from the federal court!
(Am I correct to understand that all residency restrictions throughout California are now null and void [except for individuals still under cdcr supervision]? Is this effective immediately or will it not go into full effect until the court makes a final ruling on the additional claims?)

If I am understanding this correctly, this is a great victory!! ☺

Congratulations Janice! It must feel good when you win uphill battles.

Anyway, Merry Christmas to both you and everyone else!

Would love to see this applied to other areas nationally in cases and lawsuits. At least referenced or cited.

Janet or other legal minds, could this same ruling / theory he applied to any city ordinance with regard to RSOs not on parole? For instance many cities still have Halloween restrictions that require keeping the lights off and not handing out candy. If the state pc says that it is a “comprehensive system” and that the legislature “creates a standardized, statewide system to identify, assess, monitor and contain
known sex offenders for the purpose of reducing the risk of recidivism posed by these offenders” then no city or county ordinance should be valid.

I dug up the video link of the meeting, which was in audio, with only a sign about the meeting on the screen. As such, I didn’t bother identifying the individuals by sound, though for your edification I identified the time points of certain segments. This was not typed with any major literacy format, just slapsticked together, but got all the salient points. Enjoy!

Video (actually, audio with no video) link of meeting: http://adelantoca.iqm2.com/Citizens/SplitView.aspx?Mode=Video&MeetingID=1066&Format=Minutes

This is a rather rudimentary video, without the ability to easily move forward or back in 5 or 10 second segments, but if you maximize the window you can click the slider to within a few seconds of the time point.

6:35 Start of Sex Offender segment

11:35 city attorney mentions certain lawsuits, trying to make sense
complains about attorney’s fees (“predatory attorneys”)

20:30 Pocket Parks discussion where they were considering installing to keep out registrants

23:30 “When did protecting children become an issue with cities? They are less important than the ‘sick individuals who mess with kids.'”
Attorney paraphrasing: “I’m with you. I’m not in favor of helping the sex offenders. But if they are restricted, they are put in positions that make communities less safe.”
Mayor then asserts most offender were abused as children, and would most likely offend again. Complains about lawmakers. COMPLETELY misses the damn point that the attorney just made!!

The kicker at 25:05 :

But it seems like their (registrants’) rights are more important than protecting our children, and at SOME point Sacramento (and) Washington needs to stand up for our children instead of saying, “Hey cities, if you protect our children, we’re just going to leave you open to get screwed over because we’re not doing what we’re supposed to do. I can’t blame you (city attorney), I can’t blame our law enforcement, it’s the lawmakers above them that are screwing it up. But it seems like we are talking over a moot point, because we can’t do anything, because noone’s gonna have our back when we go to say,

*** Hey, you know what? Get the heck out of town, you know give them a leper colony in Apple Valley out there in all that open land, (unintelligible comment from peanut gallery) That would be perfect! They can have music, they can have a stage, everything. (Lots of guffaws)

Some talk about group homes, about sex offenders moving in and then comes up with this gem:

Half of these damn group homes that are running around this city don’t have a license. Someone rents a house to move a whole bunch of these f-”
(pause to catch himself, after a moment, someone offers the word ‘people’) “…people, into these houses, and then next thing we know we have parents coming in here when they find out that someone is a sex offender is in there, and…

*** here we go ***

…I’m sorry, if a parent tells me that they’ve (ostensibly a registrant) done something with their kid, I’ll be the first one to pay to help them get out of jail (ostensibly because the parent attacked or killed the registrant for ostensibly attacking their kid) because I’m sick and tired of what the hell’s going on. Because all we are doing is sitting here telling these people (registrants) they have a mental health problem. They have all these rights. But the kids don’t have any rights. These kids are being destroyed. Families are being destroyed, but these guys have a right because they have a mental illness?

At this point a bunch of gibberish, as the mayor and the city council try their damnedest to wordsmith a restriction in group homes, while the city attorney, commendably actually, returns with legal opinions that are sound, laying out the reasons for laws that have nothing to do with sex offender registry restrictions.

Moving on to 34:40, a council member grouses about paying taxes for mental health services of sex offenders.

35:10 One of the councilmembers “God, I wanna say something so bad…”

Mayor “You (kicked?) me already, so…

And now some semblance of reality by the local cop: “I understand the seriousness of it, I’m on board…but keep in mind that, I understand the heinous part of this (ha ha), but..

*** …Keep in mind there are other crimes that are committed on a daily basis that do affect families like domestic violence, and drugs, robberies, homicides, that do repeat and cycle, due to family values and how they are brought up. Again, I’m on board with this, but there are other crimes as well. Where do we draw the line? If we do this, it’s gonna be litigious. It’s a very, very tight line.”

3 full seconds of silence.

A lot more pontificating. Law enforcement people seem to be the only adults in the room. Mayor reminisces about growing up, and how dangerous things are today, completly oblivious to the FACT he and his ilk make if MORE dangerous because of their constant beatdown of registrants based upon their status. Parents are angry because they have access to information, but that’s just it…it’s INFORMATION, and it’s NOT an invitation to feel scared feces-less.

And to be blunt, Mayor. When kids played outside 30 years ago, their were JUST as many real sex offenders back then as now. Only difference is, they either weren’t arrested, or they were out of jail and living in the communtity but not registry to rile everyone up.

Ok, back to the board of doofuses, another gem:

41:42 “Can we put a neon sign in the window? Why not? (Laughter) How about just a hand written in crayon (sic)? ” followed by “Why not pave the street right in front of their house?” “Can we put little stars out in front of their curb?” “Will you give me a ticket if I do it?”

Mayor then offers to print the registry and hand it to everyone, even offering to pay for it himself! Then he wants to have the registry website also printed in Spanish.

Someone said that if they handed out all the notices, all the citizens would be screaming at city hall to do something. Then the mayor said, “Well, it’s our job to educate because that’s all we can do.

Then after talking about education, the councilmember says at 44:00, “You KNOW what I would like to do (infering he wants to execute sex offenders on he registry), take care of the whole problem real quick here! You can’t do that…I don’t know WHY though!”

Someone else: “I’d castrate them myself.”

Someone else: “March them out back (inferring he wants to execute them in a firing squad, MS13 gang style).

After someone mentioned that Frank Lindsay (plaintiff) sued Adelanto, the city council said, “Oh! We already have been through it, no big deal!”

All the rigamarole ends with an “apology.”

54:45 “I want to make it as difficult as possible (inferring to live in Adelanto as a private citizen) on any felon and sex offender.”

That pretty much caps up the video.

I look at it this way. As more registrants can live in communities without fear of being removed, more in the community will know this person as a human being instead of an ” dangerous person”.

That exchange is unbelievable. I hope that can be used to prove, as the Colorado judge has said, the registry is punishment by the public. Please let this comeback to bite them to help bring this down.

Crazy how Megans law is falling apart I never thought I’d see it happen there really is hope out there don’t give up stand strong keep your head up. To all the people who have become homeless around the time of the peak of The sex offender Witch Hunt 2009 to 2015 you no longer have have to live like that I know it’s hard your going to need some tough skin but you can do it .Much love to everybody and Merry Christmas too Janice and the ACSOL thanks for all you guys do 🤣

I believe the Court’s “Decision” is the best thing I’ve read in all of 2017! 🤓

Will this apply to all CA parolees or only to those with offenses against minors??They have been differentiating that since the San Diego Supreme Court decision.

I hope this opens the doors to lawsuits against the counties by individuals who’s constitutional rights were violated. I want each person no matter their criminal conviction to be able to be compensated for the unjustified burdens and hardships this patchwork of vindictive laws have created.

Just most of us on the registry have already paid for our crimes, it’s time the cities and counties also pay for theirs. Unfortunately it will come out of the taxpayers’ pockets, which might actually be a good thing. Maybe it will eventually lead to the people standing up against unconstitutional laws. The public is already seeing how stupid the registry really is.

The city of Rialto still has Halloween restrictions to all registrants, no lights no handing out candy do not open the door etc. I just signed my papers and they made me sign a copy of the ordinance in November. I hope some day this gets taken care of as well .

I am so confused by the sex offender laws in this state. I was convicted for a sex offense in Oregon 1999 against a minor under 14. Are there residency restrictions on me in California? I am not on parole or probation.

If State law fully occupies the field of RC laws, etc., doesn’t that mean every single piece of legislation below the State level is null and void? It would seem one merely need make the same argument against any HOA, City, Township, County, or School District to get something struck.

BTW, I really loved Footnote 2! (And @mike r, take notice how the Court dislikes such mistakes.)

Well done, Janice et al.

“20% of Americans live in a community governed by a condo association, homeowners association or co-op board, according to the Community Associations Institute.” Sounds like hell, doesn’t it? I think that you can assume that we would not be allowed through the front gate of most HOAs. It’s an odd legal regime that governs them but they seem to get by with their extreme busybodyness by being non-governmental and private. “Covenants” were the go-to solution well into the 1960s for keeping blacks out of many communities. “The Supreme Court ruled against racially restrictive covenants in 1948, and they were outlawed by the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968. But because so many of them remain in deeds and neighborhood bylaws, some states, including California, have moved to eliminate them.Apr 21, 2005”

Thank you Janet and Chance, this is a huge step forward, the federal courts are little by little leaning in our favor. I do believe they know the registry is unconstitutional, but all are afraid to be the first to step forward and say it.

Now I would imagine that this covers presence bans as well???? It appears that presence bans and the language would be of similar status…

Hey, Congratulations to acsol and my California neighbours. Thumbs up!

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