What’s the difference?

August 4, 2008
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This post comes from IL reporter Michael Hoskins: 

On one hand, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana argues against blanket, government-imposed rules restricting where sex offenders can live and places those registered individuals can visit. But when a private homeowners association takes a similar move, the line gets blurry and the civil liberties group says there isn’t much it can do. Why? An HOA is a private entity, not a governmental body treading on a person’s constitutional rights.

The issue is coming up in Greenwood, where an HOA for a 175-home subdivision has taken a step believed the first of its kind in the state: amending its governing documents to ban offenders from living in that community’s homes. Communities in Texas and Kansas City have put similar policies in place. Now, as part of the covenants, the association can evict any sex offender who buys a home there, any current resident who’s convicted of a felony sex crime in the future, or any owner who rents or sells to a sex offender. More than three-fourths of the residents voted in favor of the measure.

The legal director of the ACLU of Indiana points out that while this doesn’t appear to be a constitutional issue since offenders aren’t part of any protected class, this is a “terrible idea and policy.” Residency restrictions are already in place for registered offenders, and taking actions like this could push courts to view this as some sort of de facto punishment if a legal challenge arises, Ken Falk says.

A common theme among all these restrictions and bans on registered sex offenders is that each has a noble purpose at the heart: to protect the safety of children. But courts are wrapped up in many of these controversies, including issues regarding who’s required to register, what restrictions can be put in place, and how these regulations can be enforced. The legal community doesn’t have consensus, all the while more restrictions are being implemented. What’s the difference in this case from the others, and should it matter whether it’s a private or public entity imposing a restriction?
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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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