OC District Attorney Called "Foolish" to Take Pervs-in-Parks Ban Case to Supreme Court

Categories: Court, Crime-iny

See the update at the end of this post where the leader of a group seeking the reform of California sex offender laws calls the DA's decision to take the Child Safety Zone ordinance case to the state Supreme Court "foolish."

ORIGINAL POST, JAN. 14, 6:34 A.M.: A state appeals court that ruled Friday the County of Orange's Child Safety Zone ordinance that bans registered sex offenders from regional parks is unconstitutional followed up Monday by striking down the city of Irvine's similar law.

But the Orange County district attorney's office (OCDA) also revealed Monday it will take the case to the California Supreme Court.

Both Sides Ready to Debate Orange County's Pervs-in-Parks Ban Before Appeals Court

District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and county Supervisor Shawn Nelson drafted the original ordinance that the Orange County Board of Supervisors adopted in April 2011. It requires registered sex offenders to receive permission from the sheriff's department before entering a county park or recreational area lest they face a misdemeanor, fine and possible jail time.

Rackauckas, Nelson, Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and OCDA Chief of Staff Susan Kang Schroeder then went about lobbying individual cities to impose their own ordinances. A dozen or so Orange County cities bought in, although Irvine's ban only applies to sex offenders who have been convicted of preying on children.

The challenge of these laws is based on the case of Hugo Godinez, who has been forced to register as a sex offender with the Costa Mesa Police Department since his sentencing for a 2010 misdemeanor sexual-battery conviction.

The Santa Ana resident was sentenced to 100 days in jail and five years of probation for violating the county ordinance when he attended what he claimed to be a "mandatory" company party May 5, 2011, at Mile Square Regional Park in Fountain Valley.

The 4th District Court of Appeal overturned the Godinez Child Safety Zone conviction on grounds the county law is unconstitutional because the state already has laws on the books dealing with registered sex offenders. A panel of justices from the same court overturned Irvine's ordinance on the same grounds on Monday.

But Schroeder on Monday disclosed the OCDA's office plans to seek a hearing with the California Supreme Court, noting her office had expected legal challenges when the original law was adopted, reports The Orange County Register.

"Protecting children from dangerous sex offenders is an ongoing war, and we believe that it's one of the most important jobs we have at the DA's [office]," Schroeder reportedly said, adding, "Some of the best minds of the district attorney's office helped draft this law, and we still believe we're right on the law."

Before the OCDA's announcement, Nelson, who is now chairman of the Board of Supervisors, indicated to City News Service he does not like the rulings but accepts them.

"It's disappointing, but, hey, they're a branch of government, too, and they have a responsibility, and they've ruled, and that's it," Nelson said.

"The state Supreme Court might want to hear it, but I don't want to spend any more money on it," Nelson said. "We did our best to protect our kids in the community, but I respect the Court of Appeal. . . . I think we have to accept it and move on."

UPDATE. JAN. 14, 6:17 P.M.: Janice Bellucci, president of California Reform Sex Offender Laws (RSOL), says it is "foolish" for the Orange County District Attorney's office to take its Child Safety Zone ordinance case to the state Supreme Court.

"It is foolish for the office of the Orange County District Attorney to request further review of the county ordinance,"Bellucci says in a statement from her Los Angeles office. "After losing two court battles, this is a waste of taxpayer funding which could be better spent on addressing methods that increase public safety rather than provide the public with a false sense of security."

Bellucci also cheered a 4th District Court of Appeals panel of justices finding the Orange County law unconstitutional.

"This decision is important to more than 100,000 families in California who have been denied access to the county's parks, beaches, harbors and other recreational areas for more than two years," Bellucci says. "The families may now visit those sites without fear of a family member being arrested, jailed and/or fined."

She claimed ordinances like Orange County's provide a false sense of security to parents because they focus upon registered sex offenders, who re-offend at a rate of only 1.9 percent, according to a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation report issued in October 2012.

Bellucci also believes the ordinance misses its mark because most registered sex offenders were convicted of offenses that did not involve a sexual assault upon a child. Most who commit sexual assaults on children are family members, teachers, coaches and clergy, she said, citing a California Sex Offender Management report issued in August 2011.

And those assaults generally do not occur in public places like parks but private places such as homes, schools and churches, Bellucci added.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!



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10 comments
urhairfix
urhairfix

The real issue is parents need to attend to their children. These laws have no historical justification. Has there been ANY record of registered sex offenders attacking children in parks or beaches? No? Then why have the law? The police and sheriff's departments are obviously doing a great job, as are the parole and probation departments. After these people go through probation, therapy and time served they only wish to live productive lives with their families. These ever increasing punitive measures are fear based and serves only to cause harm to a group that politician's now use as their new whipping boy for re-election. Registrants have a re-offense rate of only 1.9% according to the latest Department of Justice report. Why do we even have a registry? Isn't it the probation/parole department's job to ensuring they're safe for society? If someone is so bad to have to be put on some online hit-list then why are they even amongst us? What the DA is saying is that a registered citizen can't be in a public place (parks and Beaches) with their own children. About that waiver from the sheriff's department...Why would a law ENFORCEMENT agency give-out passes to break the law? Really?!? I saved my son's life twice because I was there to do so but the DA would have a registrant's child be without their parent and put in harms way. That ladies and gentlemen is a violation of their parental rights and their child's safety. Where are we in pre-1945 Germany? This is NOT freedom people, it's tyranny. That breaks not just natural law (like a mother bear's right to be with her cubs), but both spiritual law (God made them parents not Tony) and constitutional law. Could even be considered a human rights violation. The DA started down this path and it seems right on the surface. Who's not out to protect children, but the facts and dangers don't support this. Look they say if it saves just one child it is worth it. Then we need to stop children from riding in cars and on airplanes because they are known to crash. I mean after-all if it saves just one child. Proverbs 16:25 states there is a way to a man that seems right but the end thereof is the ways of death. The sex offender registry is a LIVING DEATH, It is Evil and it is Wrong. To stand against it and these kind of laws is to stand with redemption and against tyranny. It will not be popular but in the end to stand against such will be what really matters. Truth (light) is a funny thing. When it (truth/light) is rejected. Where does that leave us? In the dark! On this issue our leaders are in the dark because of a popular wrong. Should we follow them into the ditch or hold the light of truth even higher for more people to see so true and righteous judgement eventually comes. The real enemy in our society is the Them verses Us mentally. There is no THEM it's really only US. We ladies and gentlemen are in this together. TRUTH

EffectiveNOT
EffectiveNOT

The OCDA hasn't changed a bit.  He continues to waste taxpayers' money running in circles and getting no where.  He's been reversed on several homicides this year alone (especially the ridiculous case of the stolen stove falling off the truck and killing someone, ever heard of an accident?), his deputies get not guilty verdicts trying homicide and other frivolously cases because they're a bunch of hacks going through the motions instead of using wisdom, good judgment, and common sense.  It is also obvious from the Kelly case that the DA himself can't get a conviction.  Now he continues to waste our money when the courts have told him that state law preempts county and city codes yet he wants to continue because the best minds in the DA's office wrote this unconstitutional law?  What is it that this DA Kang doesn't understand?  We need to send him (or is it her) back to law school or better yet, vote this fool out of office for continually losing and wasting our time and money.

ochelper
ochelper

Better decisions can often be made when emotions are removed from the equation. When emotions are present logic often is not.


Is it logical to think that the proposed ordinance would prevent sex offenders, whose intent is to commit a sex crime, from hanging out at parks? If they are willing to risk committing felony or misdemeanor sex crimes is the ordinance really going to make a difference? If they aren't going to the park to commit a sex crime then what difference does it make if they go to the park. Are they banned from shopping malls and beaches, too?  If law enforcement observes a sex offender at the park, or anywhere for that matter, I'm sure there are plenty of laws already on the books they can use to deal with the situation.


We have too many specific laws that have been created as a result of emotional and sometimes heartbreaking situations. The basis of our criminal justice system is to punish the offender more than it is to prevent future harm. Preventing future harm to children can be accomplished by not allowing children to be in situations where strangers can have access to them. Not every sex offender has been convicted. Such an ordinance might also give parents a false sense of security. It might make them feel like the park is a "safe" place and that they can let their children go there alone.

Daniel Lamb
Daniel Lamb

It is obviously a good political move... shame it will come at the taxpayers' expense...

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

"Bellucci also believes the ordinance misses its mark because most registered sex offenders were convicted of offenses that did not involve a sexual assault upon a child. Most who commit sexual assaults on children are family members, teachers, coaches and clergy, she said, citing a California Sex Offender Management report issued in August 2011."

This argument is lame. Don't we ALL deserve to be safe from sexual predators?

carlhoward13
carlhoward13

While Susan Kang was so concerned about registered citizens having their homes lights on during Halloween eve, her husband was caught driving drunk that evening endangering children and the citizens of Orange County. There have been no reports EVER of a child being harmed on Halloween by a registered citizen, but there are reports of children being harmed by drunk drivers. Why do these people in the DA's office think that they are above the law?

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

If Orange County CA cops weren't such harassing and corrupt criminals, I might actually be on the side of the DA on this one. As it stands now however, I would rather take my chances with sex offenders and terrorists before I would grant extra authorities to this law enforcement community.

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

What about about the "pervs of the public trust" in Orange County CA law enforcement Tony Rackauckas?

RodTemple
RodTemple

@FishWithoutBicycle  This ban would do literally less than nothing to protect anyone (i.e. it would in fact, just like the Sex Offender Registries themselves, be counterproductive and make people less safe).


Further, there is not one single American who supports this type of ban (ESPECIALLY when applied well after a person has completed a legal sentence).

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