CA: Federal Court Limits Residency Restrictions to Parolees

From ACSOL, word of a positive decision from a Federal Court in California:

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.

 Read the decision here.

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