Janice’s Journal: This Federal Court Got It Right — Mostly

Note:  The beginning of this column was written on Friday, October 27.  The end of this column was written on Monday, October 30.

The U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, got it right today when they granted our motion for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO).  The court looked at the facts presented to them and asked the right questions.  In doing so, the court shifted the burden of proof to the government. That is, the court required the government to provide solid evidence that a sign on the front door of a registrant’s home would protect children on Halloween.

Perhaps to a non-lawyer, the importance of shifting a burden of proof is not immediately apparent.  Because I am a lawyer, I hope to explain the importance in the next paragraph.

When a party has the burden of proof, he/she/they must provide evidence that something is so.  That evidence can be in one of several forms such as written or oral testimony, the production of objects or a subject matter expert.  The other party must then refute that evidence which in most cases is much easier to do.

So in the court’s decision today to grant a TRO, the court acknowledged that the government had a “compelling interest” to protect children on Halloween.  The court did not accept, however, the government’s assertion that signs on the front doors of registrants’ homes would achieve that purpose.  In addition, the court noted that the Halloween signs could cause “irreparable injury” to registrants.  That is why when the court balanced the interests of both parties (government and registrants), it determined that the government lost because it had failed to show that the Halloween signs will increase public safety and would place registrants and their families at significant risk of harm.   

The court also got it right when it decided to wait more than a week after briefs had been filed in order to issue its decision granting the TRO.  That is because today is the last day of the week and most media outlets had already filed their stories, then gone home for the weekend.  It’s also because it did not give the government enough time to appeal the court’s decision to grant the TRO before Halloween.  The end result is that registrants in Missouri are not required to put a sign on the front door of their home this year.

What about next year?  The TRO that has been granted lasts only 14 days.  Therefore, the court has scheduled a hearing on November 9 to discuss a possible Preliminary Injunction which could last up to a year, possibly protecting registrants in Missouri for Halloween in 2024.  And if a Preliminary Injunction is granted, we can next request a Permanent Injunction.

What’s wrong with the court’s decision?  First, the court referred to individuals required to register as “sex offenders.”  That is a derogatory term and must be avoided.  And it’s a term that cannot be found in our briefing documents, but only the documents filed by the Attorney General.

Second, the court cited cases that we know are based upon fiction, not facts.  For example, the court stated that “It has been recognized that ‘sex offenders are a serious threat in this Nation.’”  The court also stated that “it is common sense…..that young ‘trick-or-treaters’ are indeed vulnerable to child predators on Halloween.”

Given that we will be briefing this court in the future, we will do our best to highlight these errors and provide the court with multiple studies and reports that cite facts, not myths, about individuals required to register.  With luck, the court will learn from its mistakes and correct them in future decisions.


The end of this column was written on Monday, October 30:

The district court’s decision to grant a TRO was upheld today by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals after a flurry of briefs filed by both the Attorney General of Missouri and the plaintiff.  All together the court of appeals had more than 100 pages of briefs to read, however, the court’s decision was issued only an hour after the last brief, a 12-page document, that was filed by the Attorney General.  Without disclosing their reason for doing so, the court of appeals denied in a two-sentence decision the Attorney General’s request to overturn the TRO. 

We accept this victory with grace knowing that justice has been done in Missouri.  Registrants in that state are not required to post a sign on the front door of their homes this year.  What’s next you ask?  We’re now looking for other states that currently require Halloween signs to be posted so that we can educate courts in those states as well.

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Second, the court cited cases that we know are based upon fiction, not facts. For example, the court stated that “It has been recognized that ‘sex offenders are a serious threat in this Nation.’” The court also stated that “it is common sense…..that young ‘trick-or-treaters’ are indeed vulnerable to child predators on Halloween.”

As always, the lie goes halfway around the world before the truth can get 10 feet!
Great work, Janice!!

Truly the abridgement of any constitutional protection must be a matter of extreme gravitas! The burden of proof must be, in my opinion, so weighty as to make that abridgement all but impossible!

Even a protection that is held by jurisprudence as sacred but not specifically enumerated, such as the “right to travel”, must never be abridged without having the narrowest scope possible; and then only with the stingiest of latitude!

The founding fathers clearly meant the bar to be very high and challenging!

I applaud this judge for making the government jump through hoops. They are SUPPOSED to!! (and more!)


Janince’s and ACSOL’s reach is going out of CA. How fantastic is that.

Thank you, Janice, Matt, and all involved in this. May the march for justice in Missouri continue to move forward!!!

I heartily applaud this victory but have a problem with this portion of the program, “Without disclosing their reason for doing so, the court of appeals denied in a two-sentence decision the Attorney General’s request to overturn the TRO.”

I realize it is the court’s prerogative to rule as they did, but w/o understanding why makes it a curious victory, IMO. We can speculate till the cows come home why they ruled they way they did, but for a Judge(s) in our legal system to not say why (much like SCOTUS who does the same) in today’s age, just does not sit well with me at least.

I do hope the AG and LE in MO impacted by this are still smarting from this impetuous action.

“It has been recognized that ‘sex offenders are a serious threat in this Nation.’”

So the countless murders, mass shootings, and gang/activity gets a pass, but the real criminals are the so called sex offenders…….I swear this nations leadership is filled with lunatics….

I just came across the following article on KTLA: https://ktla.com/news/local-news/southern-california-k9s-help-crack-down-on-child-predators/

The article cites a Senior District Attorney Investigator, named Jason Polanco–formerly of the Indio Police Department (where he was paid over $209,000.00 per year)–now on the Riverside County Child Exploitation Team, stating “There are safeguards in place, so to speak, where the registered sex offenders within our county, they’re not supposed to be handing out candy on Halloween.”

Is this correct? If one is not on parole, probation, and/or any other type of post-incarceration “supervision,” are all Registered Sex Offenders, in California, prohibited from handing out candy??

Seems kind of strange. Though I don’t handout candy (and have been off of supervision for almost a decade), I have never read a statute, nor the conditions that we annually sign, that say anything about “not supposed to be handing out candy on Halloween.”

Is Jason Polanco just a Typical, Lying, Ignorant, Tyrant Cop?

I hope that this will be the 1st domino to fall.. We will see.

Ever deal with fed courts in Michigan? Doe v Nessel 23-cv-11655 may interest you. Courtlistener dot com to download the Complaint.
Relief request , if so ordered, would get 100s off the registry. All the court has to do is obey the laws and jury instructions.
We’ll see.