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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Ind. Decisions - John Doe v. City of Lafayette will not be appealed

In a split en banc decision from July 30, 2004, the 7th Circuit affirmed 8-3 Judge Sharp's (ND Ind.) ruling upholding the City of Lafayette's lifetime banning of convicted sex offender Doe from the City's parks. Quotes from the dissent included:

As this ban violates Doe's First Amendment right to freedom of thought by impermissibly punishing him for those thoughts, I respectfully dissent. * * * Despite our repudiation of the content of his thoughts, the City of Lafayette may not punish Doe for his thinking alone, for without protection from government intrusion into our thoughts, the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment are virtually meaningless.
See this 7/30/04 ILB entry, and this entry from the following day, 7/31/04, with quotes from contemporaneous press coverage.

Today, Dan Shaw of the Lafayette Journal & Courier reports:

A convicted child molester banned from Lafayette's 17 city parks has given up the fight to have the case appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ken Falk, an attorney with Indiana Civil Liberties Union who represented John Doe, said Wednesday that the U.S. Supreme Court accepts only about 70 of the 7,000 to 8,000 cases it receives every year. And after consulting with his client, they agreed to end the fight in the case of John Doe v. the City of Lafayette.

"We felt it was not a case that would be reviewed," Falk said.

In an action that gained national attention, Lafa-yette city officials in 2000 placed a ban on John Doe from entering city parks after Lafayette police received a tip that he had been observing children at Murdock Park and harboring sexual thoughts. * * *

After being upheld once and then being overturned once, the ban was upheld a second time by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals last July. Because of John Doe's decision not to continue the appeals, the parks ban will stand.

But opinions on the consequences of the case are far from decided throughout Greater Lafayette.

Joan Laskowski of West Lafayette said she understood Falk's reasoning but continues to lament the outcome.

"The ban is punishing a person for thoughts and not actions," she said. "And that's not the kind of country we are."

But Connie Basham said keeping John Doe away from the parks might help his assimilation into society.

"A person who has an addiction -- we need to place that person in an environment (where) they are not going to be around addictive material," the former Tippecanoe County commissioner said. "And I think it's most appropriate he's not going to be around children if that's the target of his addiction."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 24, 2005 12:29 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions