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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Ind. Decisions - More on: 7th Circuit decides Michigan City ban on park use by convicted child molester

Richard D. Walton of the Indianapolis Star has a story today on Tuesday's decision from the 7th Circuit in the case of Robert Brown v. Michigan City - see Tuesday's ILB entry here.

Walton's story examines the new Indianapolis park ban in light of the 7th Circuit ruling in the Michigan City case. Some quotes:

The Indianapolis ordinance, passed in May, prohibits sex offenders from coming within 1,000 feet of parks, playgrounds or pools when children are present. The ACLU sued in that case as well, contending that the city's configuration of streets and highways makes it impossible to traverse Indianapolis without violating the law.

The lawsuit, filed in June, was brought on behalf of six convicted sex offenders.

A request for a preliminary injunction to block the ordinance is pending before a federal judge in Indianapolis.

Ken Falk, the ACLU's legal director, said Wednesday that because the Indianapolis ordinance is broader than the Michigan City prohibition -- which affects only Brown -- he believes the 7th Circuit ruling should have no bearing on the local case.

But Robert Keen, attorney for Michigan City, said he thinks the decision hurts the ACLU's Indianapolis case because it found that people have no fundamental right to access to public parks.

As a result of the ruling, he said, cities such as Indianapolis that exclude all sex offenders from parks now need only prove they have "some rational basis" for believing child abusers as a class pose a risk.

Kobi Wright, the attorney for Indianapolis, welcomed the ruling as affirming what the city has asserted all along: "The city has the ability . . . to protect children from sex offenders in city-owned parks."

The appeals court's reasoning in the Brown case was similar to that of an earlier decision it made in a Lafayette, Ind., case. * * *

The Brown decision makes it even tougher for opponents of park bans because it was reached without proof that Brown intended to commit any crimes, said Jim Osborn, chief litigation counsel for the Indianapolis city attorney's office.

Plainfield also has banned sex offenders from parks and recreational areas. Its ordinance also is being challenged by the ACLU.

Here is a list of some earlier ILB entries involving sex offenders and parks.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 7, 2006 09:08 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions