Civil Procedure

Sex offender living in hotel room may challenge town's residency restrictions, 5th Circuit says


A registered sex offender and family members who had to live in a one-bedroom motel room to comply with a Dallas town’s residency restrictions have standing to challenge the ordinance, an appeals court has ruled.

The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday on behalf of Aurelio Duarte and his family members, who wanted to live in a house in Lewisville, Texas, Courthouse News Service reports. The town bars registered sex offenders from living within 1,500 feet of places “where children commonly gather,” but the motel was grandfathered under the ordinance.

Duarte was sentenced to eight years in prison for online solicitation of a minor. His wife periodically contacted the sex-offender registrar about houses that complied with the law, and learned of three that were available. Two were sold before the Duartes could purchase them. The registrar advised holding off on purchasing the third house until Aurelio Duarte was released from prison, according to the wife’s testimony.

The appeals court said Duarte does not have to risk prosecution to obtain standing. He moved to the hotel room with his family after his 2009 release from prison, forcing his children to change schools and taking his wife further from her job. The town’s sex offender restrictions interfered with the lives of family members in a concrete way that confers standing, according to the opinion (PDF).

Hat tip to How Appealing.

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