Thursday, October 05, 2006

Kennedy-Adams Sex Offender Ordinance Struck Down

A city ordinance successfully pushed just months ago by Democratic prosecutor candidate Melina Kennedy and city-county councilor Mary Moriarty-Adams (D), which bars certain sex offenders from city parks and other places frequented by children, has already been set aside from enforcement by Judge Richard Young of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. Young, a Clinton-appointed judge, believes the plaintiff's likelihood of success on the merits of their argument that the ordinance is unconstitutional support imposing a preliminary injunction against its enforcement. Based upon his initial findings and conclusions of law, the City of Indianapolis doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning this case.

The case, John Does v. City of Indianapolis, was initiated by the Indiana Civil Liberties Union on behalf of several unnamed sex offenders affected by the ordinance soon after it was enacted last May. Judge Young found that the jurisdictional reach of the ordinance's ban was so extensive that it essentially banishes the affected sex offenders from the city. Many other offenders would essentially be deprived of their right to vote because so many polling places in Marion County are located in places which are off-limits to the offenders. If that wasn't enough, Young also concluded that the ordinance violated the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on ex post facto laws, which prevents retroactive punishment that inflicts greater punishment than when the offender was convicted. Oh, and he also found that it violated the 5th Amendment's protection from double jeopardy, which prohibits successive punishment. And I almost forget, he also found it void for vagueness.

Some of Judge Young's key findings are quite instructive to understanding his sound ruling today:

There are few, if any, areas in the City of Indianapolis that can be traveled through or into that will not result in the traveler passing within 1000 feet of public playgrounds, recreation centers, bathing beaches, swimming pools, or sports fields or sports facilities . . .

For example, it is impossible to travel on Interstate 70, either East or West, Interstate 65, either North or South, or on the entire length of Interstate 465 without passing within 1000 feet of public playgrounds, recreation centers, bathing beaches, swimming pools, or sports fields or sports facilities . . .

It is impossible to travel on the main local streets, Washington Street (either East or West Washington) or Meridian Street (either North or South) without passing within 1000 feet of public playgrounds, recreation centers, bathing beaches, swimming pools, sports fields or sports facilities . . .

There were 503 separate polling places in Marion County for the 2006 primary election and 128 of these were in public schools, including 108 public schools that had public playgrounds, recreation centers, bathing beaches, swimming pools, or sports fields or sports facilities . . .

Their very rights of physical movement have been restricted to such an extent that they are effectively banished from the City of Indianapolis . . .

Thank God for we have a judicial branch to put the brakes on overzealous politicians who would deprive Americans of their fundamental rights. Kennedy, Moriarty-Adams, Mayor Peterson and every city-county councilor who voted for this ordinance should be ashamed of themselves. But they won't be. Instead, they will waste tens of thousands of dollars fighting a losing case, all to prove to voters just how much they are against sex offenders.


Anonymous said...

Fantastic, let sexual predators closer to our children.

Good call.

I'll bet Mark Foley is happy.

Wolfrham Hart said...

The ordinance was poorly written and legally should have been struck down.

1. 1000' with playgrounds, parks, schools, etc, any place where children are or could be means you can't live in the City of Indianapolis. Just traveling on the interstate puts you within 1000' of a forbidden zone.

2. As many polling places are withing schools you couldn't vote. You wouldn't qualify for acceptable reasons to get an absentee ballot.

3. The law says you can't heap more punishment on a person AFTER they've committed their crimes (ex post facto). This is punishment for people who have been to jail, are going through or completed the parole process, and have been or are in programs. You are obeying the current law and have been for years. You work within 900' of a playground. Suddenly new law comes into effect. You can't work your job anymore! How does that help anyone?

4. Not all sex offenders are created equal. You can get on the list for very bad things or for doing some stupdi things that most reasonable people wouldn't believe to be sexual in nature.

5. Law was vague: how close did a sex offender have to be in the company of an escorting non-offender to a park? Within reach? Within shouting distance? Within visual contact? The ordinance didn't have any specific functioning standards for offenders and police to use.

We should be aware of bad elements in our neighborhoods and places of work. These people paid a price already. If we want to make sure they don't make another mistake making life impossible for them isn't the answer. One aspect of our criminal justice system is we let people back into our society after they paid for their crime. Shunning them does no one any good.

Abdul said...

By my last count, only two people were impacted by the ordinance. One was caught before it went into effect and the other was caught because he was recognized by park police. This reaks of effectiveness. You want to find a sexual predator who can get to your kids, look in your family photo album, not the sex offender registry.

Anonymous said...

Abdul has a point. Statistically, pedophiles are more likely to know their victims. Friends and family.

But we have to realize, as much as we cherish our civil liberties, the overwhelming majority of people are like the first anonoymous responder above.

Their kind are too intellectually lazy to ponder the effect of their sweeping all-caution-be-damned remedies.

What gets my shorts in a bunch is the sponsors of this ill-fated resolution are two people I admire. I fear they've become PanderBears.

Spending precious city resources on defenseless lawsuits isn't just the exclusive terrain of our County Clerk. Sadly. The fifty or sixty K spent defending this ridiculous ordinance could've gone toward two and a half fulltime jailers.

Or 1.75 rookie IPD officers.

But hell, it's only 118 murders thus far...Constitution be damned.

Anonymous said...

I'm not suprised but disappointed. Next time the city can put something through that is more palatable to the courts.

there are some places you shouldn't be if you're a convicted child molestor. Parks and playgrounds are one.

Anonymous said...

This ordinance had nothing to do with protecting children. It was politics, pure and simple. And far too many people, including 7:13 apparently, fell for this stupidity.

But beyond that, is it too much to expect that an attorney would have some notion of what might possibly withstand judicial muster? Even if the idea was stupid (lots of laws are motivated by stupid ideas), couldn't they have written it to last more than a mili-second?

Oh yeah....

I forgot....

Kennedy's law license had probably lapsed when she helped write this law. She didn't need a license at that time because... hmmm.... she wasn't practicing law?

I suppose she wrote this before she got the brilliant revelation that a valid law license might be an asset for a Prosecutor candidate. Am I following this correctly?

Oh yeah...

I forgot that...

But now that she's re-upped her license, I'm sure we can all take comfort in knowing that she can write a better law now - one that will last more than a mili-second - to protect our children and all others in this fine city. That the miraculous ability that comes with a valid law license, right? Thank God she got that licensed renewed! If she were writing this law now, I'm sure it would be a lot, lot better.


Don't ya think?

She's got, what, 2-3 months of experience now at being a licensed lawyer? Surely, surely she could write a better law now.


Don't ya think?

Advance Indiana said...

And why not convicted drug dealers, attempted murderers and so on. Drug dealers love to make their deals in parks. Kids make great mules. Nobody thought of that one?

Anonymous said...

If Melina can't even write a constitutional ordinance, how the hell does she expect to be able to run a big prosecutor's office. She should have learned that crap in her first year of law school

Anonymous said...

I'm just glad the Brizzi trolls (you included Gary) have decided that sexual predators belong in our parks. You want to decry Judicial activism, go ahead. You want to talk about Kennedy's problems? Better throw Brizzi in there two, espescially, after he made a big to-do about "fixing it."

But hey, Carl should like sexual predators in the parks, didn't he have one as a supervising deputy proseuctor. And a chief of staff?

Advance Indiana said...

Sorry Jen (anon 11:26), you should have changed your writing style a little. You can't fool me on that one.

Anonymous said...

Weak, 11:26. Very, very weak. You must have helped write that law that got thrown out. That law that got thrown out by one of YOUR governor's appointees.

Perhaps you could help Melina with the appeal. Obviously, she needs the help.

Anonymous said...

In today's political climate, from DC down to the City Hall, pandering to interest groups is the rule of the day.

This law was pandering. here isn't a federal judge alive who'd have let this law stand. Everyone involved knew it.

Oh yeah--prosecutors don't write laws. They enforce them.

Really sad.

Anonymous said...

From video games to illegal park bans this mayor has failed us repeatedly with his misguided priorities.

He blew the opportunity to write a decent loud stereo ordinance...screwed up re-writing the curfew ordinance...crime out of control and he focuses on dogs and trees.

How much has all of the screwed up ordinances from the mayors office cost the taxpayers?

Anonymous said...

Good question. How much?

Or, translated, how many police officers are laid off or not hired, to pay lawyers to fight these pandering ridiculous lawsuits?

Not anoher dime.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, I want the child rapists, the pedophiles, the molesters, I want them all to sit on park benches and watch kids all day.

That makes sense. As for what Prosecutor's do, you might talk to Carl about it, because he made a big fuss about the importance of the law when he endorsed it.

It never ceases to amaze me that people will put the fabricated rights of child sexual predators above the rights of safety for our children.

As for the arguement that many molesters are family members, fine, but this ordiance had the ability to protect one child, it should stand.

Problem is, I don't know whose agianst this? The far left (Mansfield?) The far right (Abdul?) I guess strange bedfellows comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

Didnt Brizzi "write" the ordinacne - saying he fixed any constitututional concerns? Good job

Anonymous said...

Supporters of this law play on emotions not reality. Only 2 councilors did not participate in the political pandering, Bowes and Mansfield. Both attorneys. Both believed it was unconstitutional, ineffective at protecting kids because stats show over 90% are victimized by family and family friends. This law was a waste of time and money.

Anonymous said...

9:22--you're missing the entire point.

Ample laws exist to take care of molestors and/or those who stalk children.

Enforcement of this ridiculous law would've cost much more than it's worth. I'm all for catching the repeat offenders other ways, as in traps, etc., like the ones NBC Dateline has set up. Those traps are like shooting fish in a barrel.

But don't you dare lump me into a category of wanting molestors to sit and leer at children in parks. Don't go there. The leap is not logical.

I don't want that, but I don't want unenforceable, and expensive-to-defend ordinances on the books, either, just to pander to political viewpoints.

It is, quite simply, not responsible government.

Anonymous said...

Actually, it is worse than irresponsible government. It allows political panderers to PRETEND like they are doing something to address a very serious problem. In turn, their failure to do something legitimate results in more of the problem occuring.

Wake up people.

Anonymous said...

Amen 2:14.

False security. It's alarming.

Citizen Kane said...

The comment (2:14 pm) was right on point. This was just a repeat of the Violent Video games Ordinance debacle, where they through bad money after bad. They pass laws to pretend they are doing something to distract everyone from the fact that they aren't really doing anything and do not intend to do anything. Look at the bright shiny lights

"I've been hypnotized!"

Oh, I by the way, this is not a partisan rant. The previous mayor was a joke also.