Hartford City sex offender ordinance unconstitutionally vague


An Indiana win!  Hartford City, IN (population around 6,000) has an ordinance which sets up banishment zones for registrants, areas where individuals on the sex offense registry may not spend time or even pass through under threat of prosecution.  For waiting, across the street, to pick up his daughter from school, a father was cited under the ordinance.  In  2015 the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana filed a class action challenge to the law in federal court.  Now a judge has put a crimp in the city’s plans, holding the law is unconstitutionally vague and violates ex post facto principles.  The Indiana Lawyer blog has the details.  For the skinny on this seriously pernicious law, have a look at Rebecca S. Green’s excellent, detailed Fort Wayne Gazette article which includes surprising quotes from a member of law enforcement—critical of the registry and related measures.  A link to the federal court’s opinion is also below.  Congratulations to Brian Valenti and others who will benefit, hopefully soon, from this decision.  And kudos to ACLU of Indiana, legal eagle Ken Falk and all those who worked on this case. –Bill Dobbs

Excerpts:   Judge Theresa Springmann in the District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division, granted Valenti summary judgment in part, finding the ordinance violates Indiana’s ex post facto law as applied to Valenti, and that it’s unconstitutionally vague.

The Hartford City ordinance, which was amended in 2015, imposed a fine of up to $200 per offense for registered sex offenders who entered or loitered within 300 feet of parks, schools, public libraries, arcades, amusement centers, swimming pools, child care facilities, athletic complexes, crisis centers or shelters, skate parks or rinks, movie theaters, bowling alleys, scouting facilities or the office of protective services. MORE: