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National

GA: Federal Judge Stops Halloween Signs

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.

TRO – Order_Granting_in_Part_and_Denying_in_Part_Ex_Parte_Application (1)

Order.Injunx

Related Media

https://wgxa.tv/news/local/federal-judge-no-trick-or-treat-signs-cant-be-placed-in-sex-offenders-yards

Join the discussion

  1. Facts should matter

    Let this ruling be a shot across the bow to other law enforcement agencies that continue to over-sell the myths, lies and distortions about individuals that are forced to live without hope. Also, their misguided claim that the registry is a “public safety tool” is an accusation, not a factual statement.

    • Gralphr

      Now they have to go after NC’s rules that people on the registry cant attend functions such as the state or county fair. Lets see the Cops explain how denying said right is somehow making people safer.

  2. Anonymous

    Another sensible win. Facts are Facts. The Constitution is the Constitution. It’s just so crazy that we (you) have to fight all of this stupid, political grandstanding shit.

  3. TnT

    Bout time, a judge that has sense , These judges need to stand up to these unconstitutional laws and renegade cops n politicians .

  4. cool CA RC

    Can someone explain this in English ?
    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.

    • JohnDoeUtah

      It is a bond that secures payment to the Sheriff for the costs of executing the courts order, if that order is later found to be invalid. It appears they intend to appeal, and if they win, they want to Plaintiff to pay for the work of removing the signs.

  5. C

    What a great victory indeed. W00t!

    Even though I’m here in CA, Halloween is always a source of anxiety for me and I’m so, so happy to see some good news come about for my registered colleagues in GA. I’ll bet they’re pretty flippen’ stoked about it, too.
    Thank you, Janice!!!

  6. James

    A great decision, although the scope is limited to the three registrants who filed. This should embolden others to come forward as well. Is it reasonable to conclude that if others submitted written disapproval with the signs, that the sheriff would be risking additional lawsuits from those who weren’t SVPs?

    • JohnDoeNC

      I just read the entire order. If you have the time and have not done so it would serve you well to read in its entirety. There is a lot more in this order than simply a ruling on the signs. If you read between the lines it seems to indicate to me that the sheriff is being called out for what is obviously a re-election stunt. It specifically mentions that this sign stunt is prominently posted on his re-election Facebook page.

      It also mentions that by his own admission they have not had an issue with registrants ever committing an offense on Halloween. That the previous efforts from his department to keep citizens safe from sex offenders worked and in fact the courts stated the signs were unnecessary.

      And more importantly the order explicitly states;

      “Sex offenders are not second-class citizens. The Constitution protects their liberty and dignity just as it protects everyone else’s.” Sounds like a good argument to me.

  7. AJ

    Reading the Order, it’s clear to me the Sheriff and his cohorts are a bunch of maroons. Let’s see, they go to the GA Sheriff’s Association for legal advice. That’s it, Butts-head, go to a circle-jerk for advice. As if he was even seeking anything other than confirmation of his intents. Then the sheriff claims his right as a citizen to post in the right-of-way, yet bars removal of the signs or addition of other signs using his authority as sheriff, not as a citizen. And then–oops!–it turns out he’s violating GA law if he posts in the right-of-way as a citizen! Then add in that he only allows *his* speech and not that of anyone else. Not the RCs, not those living with the RCs. Finally, all his comments and such are on his *re-election* FB page. Gee, how transparent can you get as to what this is really about? This sheriff, not to mention his wonderful sidekick Riley, is a dope. He thinks he gets to do as he wishes because he’s “the Law.” It was nice to see the Judge bitch-slap him and his co-defendants nine ways to Sunday.

    • Tim in WI

      When it takes a fed judge to overcome basic assembly rights infringement and stop ad hominen public attack we can see the impact of the Doe03 decisions and opinions upon the public. This the regime ultimately brings distrust of thy neighbor and not harmony among all.The people pay claim to a non constitutional ” right to know. ” Knowing the inaccurate fact helps little if any. It was sold as a panacea for social ills, and electronic prophylactic panacea against adult perv who target children and kidnapped them. Now children are being used on it.

  8. Bill

    The only thing that would’ve made it even better is if the judge award the plaintiffs monetary compensation for their pain and suffering.

    There’s nothing like an expensive lawsuit to keep these rogue elements of law enforcement from EVEN THINKING of stepping on the backs of Registrants for political gain.

    Sheriff Long thought he could fool the community by putting on a DOG & PONY SHOW by picking on the LEAST dangerous of former offenders and say what an awesome protector he is.

    I’m glad the judge saw through that ruse and told Long to shove his signs back into the Butts Sheriff Dept.

    I’m sure Long was sore after that.

    Hehe…

  9. bob jones

    More information from CNN… FAKE NEWS/MISINFORMATION….
    the cnn URL: https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/30/us/georgia-judge-ruling-sex-offenders-trick-or-treat-trnd/index.html

    the QUOTE: Some states, including New York and California, stop short of “no-candy laws” but require sex offenders to remain in their homes without interaction on Halloween and leave monitoring up to state departments of corrections.

    In California NOT True on the remain in your home (unless on prob/parole)
    If your not on paper you can do ANYTHING you want on Halloween (Even pass out candy if you wish!)

    Funny thing gary long or whatever the losers name is… their twitter page doesn’t exist LOL

    • Cool CA RC

      Check Tulare country in California

      https://www.codepublishing.com/CA/TulareCounty/#!/TulareCounty05/TulareCounty0513.html

      5-13-1100 HALLOWEEN, RESTRICTIONS ON RESIDENCY:

      Any sex offender, as defined herein, shall be required, between 12:00 a.m. and 11:59 p.m., on October 31st of each year, to do the following:
      1.    Leave all exterior residential, decorative, and ornamental lighting off during the evening hours from 5:00 p.m. until 11:59 p.m.;
      2.    Shall not decorate the exterior of his or her residence with Halloween decorations; and
      3.    Shall not answer the door to children who are trick or treating.
      (Added by Ord. No. 3415, effective 10-5-10)

  10. G4Change

    These laws are being stricken in state after state, yet in Missouri they still stand – even after having once been found unconstitutional by the MO Supreme Court. I’m glad for Georgia and other states, but this just isn’t right. And nobody is doing a damn thing about it in MO.

  11. mike r

    Why ACSOL is not filing about the registry as a whole on the same grounds as follows with Frank Lindsay is beyond me. It is a pretty strong bet on a win. Just to start, state constitution allows much broader rights…

    “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.”

    So does your name posted on the internet stupidssssss….

    • mike r

      I mean I know ACSOL has done tremendous good, I think it is finally time myself……

    • steve

      @mike r

      “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.”

      So does your name posted on the internet stupidssssss….”

      Great f’n point Mike.

  12. NorthEastPENN

    I salute you “judge” for standing up for what is right and seeing through the sheriff’s real intentions of posting the signs.

    I am not from GA but I am very thankful of this ruling as it will echo throughout the entire country.

    Sheriff’s department spend the money and resources on a true danger during Halloween – place your manpower and resources on the streets for traffic control to help make the little kiddies safer from being hit by cars.

    Truth be Told!!

  13. Mike

    uh oh, seems like the foundation is beginning to crumble…

  14. USA

    Good judges exist! The judge clearly stated his ruling in both an honest and factual manner. It’s disturbing to see how the police in this city are acting. I’m really disappointed.

  15. TnT

    Yes!! … this is EXACTLY what is needed , well said ………….The only thing that would’ve made it even better is if the judge AWARD the plaintiffs monetary compensation for their PAIN and SUFFERING .If the federal judges would start enforcing the constitution these renegade police , prosecutors , and politicians would STOP costing our tax payers millions in waisted money fighting these B.s laws. That everyone knows don’t protect the public in any way shape or form . 8 out of 10 sex crime convictions are weak and have zero to nothing for evidence to support the charges they have pinned on over 1 million citizens in this country, not to mention the families they have destroyed with these registries , Hats off to this judge. This B.s has to END! Enough is Enough !

  16. Sunny

    The Sheriff issued a press release on Facebook:
    https://www.facebook.com/ButtsCountySheriff/posts/2484091334978391

    The Sheriff at least stated he will abide by the judge’s ruling and advised the public not to take matters into their own hands (although a part of me wonders if this is reverse psychology). The tone of the message is bitter and an attempt to make himself sound like an underdog hero. Unfortunately the vast majority of the approx 200 comments are supportive of the Sheriff’s campaign, with all the typical fear mongering and “think of the children” style commentary.

    You can also read the entire press release here:
    https://wgxa.tv/news/local/federal-judge-no-trick-or-treat-signs-cant-be-placed-in-sex-offenders-yards

    CNN has also covered the story:
    https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/30/us/georgia-judge-ruling-sex-offenders-trick-or-treat-trnd/index.html

    The CNN article focuses on the judge’s ruling and how the Sheriff’s campaign is unconstitutional, although it ends with an erroneous statement suggesting that NY and CA registrants are required to stay in their homes on Halloween and are prohibited from interacting with anyone.

    The California DOC has published the details of its 2019 Operation Boo:
    https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/parole/parole/operation-boo/

    • Facts should matter

      “Judge: Butts County Sheriff can’t put Halloween warning signs up”

      I don’t like how he referred to SO’s as “individuals” and how the media portrayed the sheriff as the victim with that headline. If anything, this ruling was a win for common sense and I’m glad this sheriff’s savior complex was put in check. Yes, the comments unfortunately is predictably sad and ripe with the pitchfork and torch crowd all rallying around their “fearless” public servant who works “tirelessly” to protect their children.

      The whole comment section is beyond cringe. Especially that post proudly proclaiming: “We don’t just PROTECT the kids, we HELP the kids!”

      Pathetic.

      Boss Hogg: 0
      The Constitution: 1

    • Will Allen

      Interesting that the sheriff chooses to talk about the matter on Facecrook and invite the public to talk about it. Except not all of the public. Some of the public is actively kept from participating. Who? Exactly the people who are being oppressed and harassed.

      Wow, what a classic criminal regime move. Silence critics and dissent. It should be illegal for any government to use Facecrook. It is immoral. It should be illegal.

      There are hundreds of thousands of Registered People. How hard would it be to post 5,000 comments against postings by the criminal Gary Long? Extremely hard, evidently. So the stupid rubes run their stupid mouths.

    • Harry

      This is another of many examples why CNN is also known as FNN.

      • Will Allen

        Stop spreading the lies of “fake news”. Many news sources are very reputable and yet may not have the time or resources to get everything 100% correct all of the time. CNN is likely one of the best. We know that most people who say “fake news” most of the time are actually the biggest liars of them all.

        • AJ

          To me, the term “fake news” is merely a rebranding of the term “yellow journalism.” While I don’t believe the media are actively engaging in yellow journalism, I do feel they often rush to be first, and let being right fall by the wayside. As such, misstatements are made, and often expanded, leading to the “fake news” alarm. That said, there clearly are partisans working among all the media–not just CNN. Many veteran journalists have themselves lamented the current state of the media and say that yes, it is self-induced.

          With all that in mind, I consult many different–and differing–sources. If you’re limiting yourself to CNN and/or FOX, you’re limiting your knowledge. Try a few more outlets, including some overseas, and you may discover a broader understanding of the issue, whatever that issue may be. A good rule of thumb is to consult at least one media source with which you disagree. You may learn something from the extra perspective.

  17. IL Dan

    The order says the government must use the “least restrictive means” to promote their interests. Why can’t this same argument be used against the registry as a whole since an online registry, residency restrictions, IML, etc are obviously not the “least restrictive”? Especially since this country has gone over 200 years without a registry with no public safety issues.

  18. Seth

    I wonder if people know that NARSOL’s legal team planned this case and NARSOL’s foundation handled the expenses.

    • R M

      I knew/know as I attended RSOLGA’s meetings and in which a prominent NARSOL person attended. The case is also all over NARSOL’s website.

    • G4Change

      Could NARSOL possibly help in Missouri?

      • Lynn Smith

        I also ask for help: Can NARSOL or another organization help those in Missouri who must post a sign on their front door? Please help us.

      • Janice Bellucci

        I can’t speak for NARSOL, but I can for ACSOL. ACSOL would be willing to file a lawsuit challenging the Missouri sign requirement in 2020 provided that we can find plaintiffs. Unfortunately, it’s too late for this year.

        • G4Change

          I’m in Missouri, and I would like to see this challenged for 2020. Should I contact you directly, Janice. I have your email.

      • Tucker Herndon

        Need help in Missouri ready to file suit!
        Please call me 7652430099

  19. FinallyOffTheReg

    FinallyOffTheReg

    I feel this is an astounding Victory. This against the LEA Class who feel they are without penalty for singling out RC’s as public targets all in the name of perceived “safety”, this at the expense of the RIGHTS of the RC; as so put by the Judge. Bravo the Judge.

    I love these Federal Rulings. Thy serve as grist-for-the-mill in the gathering storm to do away with the Reg eventually. I wish all parties well.

    Cheers.

  20. USA

    You aren’t (elected) become a Sheriff being an idiot. This is clearly a Sheriff who wants to portray himself as tough on crime and he decided what better way then to focus on sex offenders! Very sad

  21. Will Allen

    I planned to leave to travel to Butts County a couple of hours ago. But I confirmed that the criminal sheriff is not putting out any signs. I planned to look myself but I trust the confirmations.

    I am about to leave home though and go roam neighborhoods completely anonymously!! It is amazing that for all of the Halloween freak-out that so many people think that Registered People are just going to sit in their homes with their lights out, not pass out candy, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

    My home has been fully decorated for Halloween for at least a month now. I’m disappointed that I haven’t had any attempted visits from law enforcement. I won’t be home to hand out any candy but I would if I felt like it.

    And it doesn’t matter what “laws” these anti-American criminals pass in the future. I will always go around them. Every time. Just like the Registries, I’ll ensure they are worse than only worthless.

    • Will Allen

      I went trick-or-treating last night. Or more accurately, I should say that I went out driving around in various neighborhoods far from my home in a vehicle that is not Registered. Since there are homes around with Registered People, it was super dangerous. I was worried about being molested. I was also a slight bit worried about drunk drivers, but not much.

      Where I’ve gone in previous years there has always been a lot of people out and about and just general partying going on. You had to drive slowly and be very careful. But the weather was not good last night so there was not that many people out. Really, all in all, it was very lame. I wonder if people have scared themselves to such an extent that it is all changing. I find it so funny that parents don’t think they can take their children trick-or-treating any longer. People living in America need some real problems to worry about.

      Meh, I wouldn’t care if Halloween went away completely. Doesn’t really do anything for me. I am forced to participate just because of the Registries.

  22. RedeeemedbyThaBlood

    https://bostonreview.net/law-justice/christine-hume-halloween-and-stranger-danger

    Good piece about the myth of Stranger Danger

  23. JZ

    I listened to the Halloween Marathon cop-watch hotline last night and didn’t catch very about Floriduh. In Duval County (Jacksonville), the “holiday” ordinance subjects us to compelled speech by having to put a sign in our yard. Unfortunately, no one has the funds to mount a court challenge.

    https://library.municode.com/fl/jacksonville/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=TITXIXPUSA_CH685SEOFSEPRRE_S685.104PRACSEOFSEPREX

    “(a) 3. (ii) From 6:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m., on October 31 (or any other day on which Halloween is celebrated) post a sign at his or her residence, including a vessel, or vehicle, stating, “No candy or treats here.” Such signs shall be in letters at least two inches high and shall be legible on the property leased, rented, owned or occupied by the Sexual Offender or Sexual Predator, and clearly visible from the street, waterway, or any property that is open to public access. The signs may be removed after 11:59 p.m. on October 31, or the day on which Halloween is celebrated.”

    • Will Allen

      Personally, I wouldn’t give a flip about any signs other than just the mere point that they are too idiotic for words. My biggest problem with them is that they are so damn stupid that they hurt my brain. And the signs show just what a bunch of stupid, pathetic dipshits support Registries. That is truly my biggest problem.

      Other than that, I don’t care what they say or think about me. I stopped caring about those “people” a loooooong time ago. Their opinions and thoughts mean no more to me than any random wildlife animal’s opinion/thoughts. Truly. When I see them, I feel that they are sad, pathetic people and I feel sorry for them briefly. Then I don’t care.

      But anyway, even if these criminal regimes are able to continue posting their signs, there is no way that they would be able to stop a person from posting their own signs. I would just absolutely have to make an opposing sign that is much, much larger and ruder than their sign. Would just have to.

      And I really want to construct a gallows. I want to hang some effigies. Just seems fun. I think hang one of the dipshits and put his/her name and address on a large sign right on the chest of the effigy. For public safety. I don’t think my wife would like the sight of the gallows though. I’d have to get permission.

      I don’t know. The law enforcement criminals where I live never bother me. So I don’t have anything I have to directly retaliate against, other than the daily existence of the Registries. Maybe in the future.

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