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VT: Judge strikes down Rutland’s limits on where sex offenders can live

[vtdigger.org]

 

RUTLAND — A judge has shot down an ordinance in Rutland that limited where convicted sex offenders can live in the community.

“The case hinges on the question whether the City of Rutland has the power to declare people nuisances,” Rutland Superior Court Judge Samuel Hoar wrote recently in the strongly worded 13-page ruling. “It does not.”

The ordinance, which the city’s Board of Aldermen adopted in 2008, prohibited any offender convicted of a sex crime against a child from living in the city within 1,000 feet of a school, day care or recreation area.

That restriction precluded child sex offenders from living in much of the city.

“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.’”

The judge added, “The boldness and breadth of this assertion is virtually without precedent.”

The lawsuit was filed in Rutland Superior Court by the state’s Prisoners’ Rights Office. It was brought on behalf of three convicted sex offenders, identified in documents only as John Does 1, 2 and 3, and includes “parties similarly situated.”

 

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  1. TS

    Cannot declare people a nuisance. That’s a new one. I think that’ll possibly have long reaching application if other RCs/entities want to use that line.

    It also shows the municipalities know what they’re doing by not appealing the court rulings to VTSC for the fear of one fell swoop taking the law out. Sounds like collusion to me. Be nice if they could prove that in court so it could be one fell swoop.

  2. CA Cool RC

    WOW, it seem like this judge understand.

  3. AlexO

    “The judge added, “The boldness and breadth of this assertion is virtually without precedent”

    This is an awesome ruling and a great scathing report. But if you believe the above, your honor, then you haven’t been paying attention for the last 15 years. Cities and states across the nation have done much worse.

    • David Kennerly, "In the long list of all of your problems, I'm the least of them"

      He may be speaking with a broader sweep of history in mind as in “This trend in American law is without historical precedent.” It’s also a good approach, on his part, by dealing with the absurdity of the law before him and setting it up for ridicule. He can only deal with this one law, after all, and not the panoply of laws which have swept the nation. From an argumentation perspective, it doesn’t really help to point out that this law is very much like many others that have overtaken society. One could argue that the exigent reason for this is the rise of the boogie-man and that the laws are rationally adaptive to the unusual level of risk he poses. It doesn’t hold water but that is the narrative.

  4. New Person

    I’m going to re-order quotes from this article:

    ======
    1. “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,” Hoar wrote.

    2. “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.”

    3. The judge added, “The boldness and breadth of this assertion is virtually without precedent.”
    ======

    1. Here, the judge identifies that registrants have already paid their price to society via conviction and punishment.

    2. Actually, the SCOTUS defined all registrants not only as public nuisance, but a public threat as they are all deemed monsters as opposed to being human beings. This refers to the SCOTUS citing an 80% recidivism rate was “frightening and high”. But that citing of the source was not from an expert and the rate was never substantiated. This source citing was proven invalid by Dr Ellman and Dr. Ellman recenlty.

    … Also, Colorado Judge Matsch stated that the “cruel and unusual punishment” of the registry comes from the public side. The IML now bans travel from some countries to US Citizens. Politicians use the registry class as a political weapon to be re-elected as well as negating options to the registrant class to be re-integrated. Here, we have yet another judge sharing the same sentiment as Judge Matsch – we are adding additional punishment to a class of people because of how they are labeled.

    3. The assertion is unprecedented because registrants have already paid a price with their punishment, but are still subjected to continue to pay the price for their conviction via the registry. The city, and/or rather the state, is imposing extra penalties on a free citizen that no other free citizen shares.

    This is unprecedented because no one is seeing it from the 13th amendment directly, but indirectly. Involuntary servitude is prohibited unless to punish a crime.

    The city has a class to continue its service to the state/city beyond their punishment. But this was enabled by the SCOTUS. The registry isn’t punishment, but it is continued service to the state, which is serving the people. Registrants are supposed to share the same constitutional rights as any other free citizen, but they aren’t. That’s what this judge is stating in plain sight, but doesn’t directly tie it to involuntary servitude.

  5. mike r

    Agreed New, I am definitely keeping the argument in my motion. Thing is it’s both and everything else I am arguing. It’s involuntary servitude because the legislature did not intend it to be punishment, of course we all no they did, but since they ststed it wasn’t supposed to be it is a servitude issue automatically. Then outside the realm of the legislature it’s everything else, including punishment. Kt can be both. The stated legislative intent=servitude….The intent, effect approach=punishment. Of course all my other claims as well…

    • New Person

      @ Mike R

      I think you’re onto something:

      Stated legislative intent = servitude (just that it isn’t classified as punishment)

      This servitude is forced upon a free citizen, just like this article’s judge Hoar stated, “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.”

      Well, that can be extended to…
      Plaintiffs have been convicted and punished; the City cannot now say to them, anymore than they could to any other citizen, ” (insert every registration regulation and duties)”.

      Free citizens are NOT forced to register. Free citizens are NOT excluded from government assistance such as HUD denying any registrant with a lifetime term. Free citizens are NOT forced to have a different passport than any other citizen. Free citizens do NOT have to disclose their travel plans. Free citizens are NOT force to register in another state. Free citizens are NOT excluded from specific jobs.

      Once you’ve served your time, then you custodial service to the state have been fully completed. The registry isn’t punishment and therefore cannot be enforced upon a free citizen. Which is what judge Hoar intimate for the 1,000 foot restriction. But why stop at that singular restriction? Why not applied to any other restriction?

  6. Tim Moore

    Registrant is an other name for a human commodity, by virtual of a past conviction, the state claims ownership and declares a nuisance. It is maybe unprecedented for this to be done to those with convictions who have served their time, but has been done before based on class, race, gender, ethnicity and what have you. The fight continues.

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