Court Cites Short-Lived ‘Branded’ TV Show in Nixing Sex Offender Signs

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A short-lived TV Western proved inspirational to the Kansas Court of Appeals as it considered an unusual probation requirement in the case of an admitted sex offender.

A trial judge had required Leroy Schad, 72, to place signs outside his house and on his car warning that a sex offender was inside, according to a FOX News account of the case. The judge also barred Schad from grocery shopping. Both requirements were terms of probation for Schad, who lived in the small town of Hudson.

The Kansas Court of Appeals ruled today that the trial judge went too far, saying the sign requirement was reminiscent of the TV Western Branded that aired on NBC from 1965 to 1966. The show starred Chuck Connors as Jason McCord, a U.S. Army captain forced to leave the armed services after being falsely accused of cowardice.

McCord traveled the West from job to job, moving on when his employer learned of his cowardice. All the while he suffered “unimaginable taunts and deadly threats from people who learned about his reputation,” according to the court opinion.

Furthering bolstering its point, the court quoted the show’s theme song: “Branded! Marked with a coward’s shame. What do you do when you’re branded?” The song’s “telling lyrics” end this way, according to the court: “And wherever you go for the rest of your life, you must prove you’re a man!”

The court said that the sign conditions in Schad’s case exceeded statutory authority and would work against any rehabilitation because wherever he would go, he would be “branded.” The court also said the grocery shopping requirement appeared to make it impossible for him to obtain food, an essential activity, and directed the trial court to find out if he had other means to obtain groceries.

Schad was originally charged with taking indecent liberties with a 9-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy who spent the night at his home. He pleaded guilty to aggravated indecent solicitation of a minor as part of a plea agreement. He told FOX News and the Hutchinson News that he has felt loneliness and isolation since the conditions were imposed. “It’s been pure hell,” he said.

The Kansas appeals court is following in the footsteps of two justices on the U.S. Supreme Court who recently cited song lyrics in court opinions.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. showed off his rock knowledge by quoting the John Lennon song “Imagine” in an opinion siding with a Utah park refusing to display a monument donated by a religious sect. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. cited Bob Dylan in a dissent last June to a case involving a suit filed against AT&T.

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