Judge grants preliminary injunction for sex offenders in Halloween lawsuit

Monday, October 27, 2008

A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction Monday afternoon protecting four registered sex offenders, including one from Cape Girardeau, from prosecution under a new law restricting their Halloween activities.

Eastern District Judge Carol E. Jackson said after hearing over three hours of arguments in the case, brought on behalf of the plaintiffs by the ACLU, that she would announce her decision later Monday on whether the injunction would affect just the four plaintiffs, or the defendants.

The defendants are the ones responsible for enforcing the laws in the jurisdictions where the plaintiffs reside, and include both Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle and Cape Girardeau Police Chief Carl Kinnison.

Dave Nelson, attorney for the ACLU, cited several vague parts of the law during his arguments, saying that due process was violated because the plaintiffs, most of whom are custodial parents, did not understand what the law meant by barring their "Halloween related activities with children" on Oct. 31.

Jackson said it wasn't too much to expect of the law that criminal violations be clearly outlined so citizens knew what they were and were not allowed to do.

"That's the essence of due process," Jackson said.

Look for more on this story later at www.semissourian.com or in Tuesday's print edition of the Southeast Missourian.

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