A federal district court judge today granted a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that prohibits law enforcement in Butts County, Georgia from posting signs in the front yards of registrants’ homes on Halloween. In his ruling, the judge stated that requiring registrants to allow the signs to remain in their front yards violated their First Amendment rights.
Also in his ruling, the judge explained that a state law that requires law enforcement to identify registrants “does not require or authorize sheriffs to post signs in front of sex offenders’ homes, nor does it require sex offenders themselves to allow such a sign”. The judge also determined that law enforcement failed to provide “evidence showing that the Plaintiffs have posed or will pose any threat to children trick-or-treating on Halloween”.
“In his decision, the judge clearly stated that registrants are not second-class citizens,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci. “The judge went on to explain that the Constitution “protects their liberty and dignity just as it protects everyone else’s”.”
In addition to stopping the Halloween signs, the judge refused to require registrants to pay a monetary bond requested by law enforcement. In his ruling on that topic, the judge noted that at least one of the three plaintiffs in the case was indigent.
“Today’s decision is a significant victory for registrants in the State of Georgia,” stated Bellucci. The decision is also similar to a federal district court decision issued in California in 2012. In that decision, the judge acknowledged that a sign posted on a registrants’ home on Halloween would endanger not only the registrant but also anyone else who lived in that home.