The city of Commerce was sued in federal district court by a John Doe plaintiff challenging the city’s sex offender ordinance in February 2008. The ordinance provided that no sex offender could live within one thousand feet of a college, school, daycare facility, park, or playground, and that no child sex offender could knowingly be present in or loiter within 300 feet of those places. The plaintiff challenged the ordinance on the grounds that it was: (1) unconstitutionally vague; (2) in violation of the ex post facto clause of the United States Constitution; and (3) in violation of the substantive due process clause of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by impairing the sex offender’s property rights.

The case was recently settled out-of-court. The city agreed to remove the provisions regarding colleges and universities, and changed the ordinance to apply to all sex offenders. The city also removed the loitering provisions in order to address the plaintiff’s concerns with vagueness. If you have questions regarding sex offender ordinances or this litigation, please contact Lauren Crawford at (512) 231-7400 or lauren@tml.org.

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