Saturday, August 22, 2009
Ind. Decisions - More on: "Indiana court lets sex offender park ban stand"
An Indiana Supreme Court decision allowing Plainfield to bar sex offenders from town parks may clear the way for other communities to enact similar laws.Matt Thacker's report in the Jeffersonville News & Tribune today is headed "Dowdell attorney believes Supreme Court decision leaves ‘inconsistencies’." Here is the story:
The court refused by a 4-1 vote the American Civil Liberties Union's request to hear its case against the Hendricks County town, filed on behalf of a man from Marion County. The decision let stand without comment a state Court of Appeals ruling last September supporting Plainfield's ordinance. * * *
The ACLU appealed the Indiana Court of Appeals ruling on behalf of the Marion County man hoping to clarify the court's stand on such local ordinances.
The Marion County man began pursuing the lawsuit against Plainfield in 2005 after Plainfield police told him not to return to the town's recreation center. He had visited there with his young son.
The man was allowed to remain anonymous by the court system throughout the lawsuit. His name and criminal history are on the public registry of sex offenders. He has completed a prison term and probation.
ACLU attorney Ken Falk couldn't be reached for comment Friday but previously said the ACLU objected because it "retroactively punishes citizens who have paid for their crimes and have a right to go to a public park."
After Thursday's Supreme Court decision not to hear the case, Falk told the Associated Press the group might now drop a lawsuit over a similar ordinance in Greenwood.
Greenwood City Attorney Shawna Koons, who drafted the city's ordinance, said she would have preferred the Supreme Court rule on the case against Plainfield. Without that ruling, the issue remains open in Indiana to decisions on a case-by-case basis, she said.
The Indiana Supreme Court’s decision Friday to not overturn an ordinance banning registered sex offenders from parks in Plainfield could affect Jeffersonville’s ordinance.Here is a list of ILB entries mentioning the Dowell decision.
In Jeffersonville’s case, Eric Dowdell’s petitions to watch his son play baseball in Jeffersonville parks were denied. The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that Dowdell should be allowed in the parks because the city’s ordinance was passed after Dowdell was charged, convicted and served his sentence for a sex offense. He also was no longer on the sex-offender registry.
Larry Wilder, the attorney representing the city council in the Dowdell case, said he had expected the Supreme Court would rule on Jeffersonville’s case at the same time as the Plainfield case.
The Supreme Court has not yet made a decision whether to hear Jeffersonville’s case.
Wilder was clearly stunned when informed of the Supreme Court’s decision on Plainfield, repeatedly saying, “Wow.” The court declined to hear the case by a 4-1 vote, letting stand without comment a state Court of Appeals ruling upholding the 2002 ordinance.
“It seems at this point that there are two inconsistent decisions in the Indiana Court of Appeals,” Wilder said.
The Court of Appeals had decided that Plainfield’s ordinance — which bans convicted sex offenders from parks for life — is not unconstitutional. Jeffersonville’s ordinance allows offenders to petition to be allowed back in the parks once they no longer have to register.
While he hopes the Supreme Court will reverse the Court of Appeals decision in the Dowdell case, Wilder added that the Supreme Court can choose to leave two inconsistencies in Court of Appeals decisions and let the law evolve.
If the Supreme Court decides not to hear the Jeffersonville case, the city would have no other options to appeal the Dowdell decision, Wilder said.