October 31, 2008

MO- Court restores Halloween restrictions on Missouri sex offenders

The ongoing saga of the Missouri Halloween rules for sex offenders who are no longer on parole or probation. Appeal to the FULL 8th Circuit or to the U.S. Supreme court is possible. Additionally there is state precedent prohibiting application of new laws to folks previously convicted. What a can of worms...stay tuned.

UPDATE 10-31: From this article comes a comment by lawyers for Plaintiffs in Missouri lawsuit on Halloween restrictions:

""On Thursday, however, the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay, allowing officials to enforce the law in its entirety today. The ACLU is scrambling to appeal the ruling and get it overturned before tonight, according to Tony Rothert, legal director for the ACLU of Eastern Missouri. "Even though this group is not a popular group, they are entitled to due process -- in other words, not being punished repeatedly for the same crime," he said."

10-31-2008 Missouri:

St. Louis — Halloween is off again for registered sex offenders, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday, although a lawyer for four people who challenged a new Missouri law said they may file their own appeal.

The controversy started Aug. 28, the effective date of a law barring "Halloween-related contact" with children by offenders and requiring them to stay inside from 5-10:30 p.m. "unless required to be elsewhere for just cause." The law also ordered them to turn off outside lights and post a warning sign.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Carol E. Jackson issued a temporary injunction barring enforcement in at least some jurisdictions of the provisions about limiting child contract and staying inside. She said the terms were vague and at risk of subjective enforcement.

Jackson acted in response to a suit by four sex offenders who had served their sentences.

Attorney General Jay Nixon, representing his office and that of Gov. Matt Blunt, appealed. On Thursday a panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals here stayed Jackson's order, making the law enforceable today and possibly delaying final court resolution to at least the end of the year.

But American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Tony Rothert, representing the plaintiffs, said they could appeal to the full 8th Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court.

Illinois and at least a handful of other states restrict the activities of registered sex offenders on Halloween, including bans on handing out candy, turning on lights or posting decorations. Some, like Maryland, also require violent offenders and offenders who have abused children to post warning signs.

"This stay comes not a moment too soon, as hundreds of thousands of Missouri children prepare to go trick-or-treating Friday night," said a statement from Nixon's office. A spokesman vowed to respond if the ACLU appeals.

The Missouri Highway Patrol said Wednesday it would not enforce the law for those convicted before the statute went into effect, then backed away Thursday once told by the attorney general's office of the appeals court ruling.

Ed Postawko, chief warrant officer for the St. Louis circuit attorney's office, would not commit on what would happen with cases submitted by police, but said that two Missouri Supreme Court rulings on sex offender requirements have said that new laws cannot be applied to offenders convicted before those laws went into effect. ..News Source.. by Robert Patrick, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

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