New York Law Journal

Residency restriction laws in Suffolk County that bar sex offenders from living nearschools, day care centers and areas frequented by children are on the brink of being struck down byEastern District Judge Joseph Bianco.  Bianco strongly suggested that he will follow the leadof a plethora of state court judges and hold that counties, towns and villages do not have theright to determine where sex offenders can and cannot live, in a March 30 decision.  Biancosaid he will exercise jurisdiction over a case, Moore v. County of Suffolk, 2:09-cv-2031, andsignaled he will rule for plaintiff Duane Moore, 53, who pleaded guilty to two separate firstdegree rapes, one in Nassau and another in Suffolk in 1982.  He spent 19 years in prisonbefore he was released in 2001and has been trying to find a place to live for much of the pastdecade.  Bianco invited Moore to move for summary judgement and injunctive relief.  In2005, Moore and his pediatrician fiance bought a house on North Sea Road in Southampton. Before they could move in, New York state enacted a law that barred sex offenders under sentence,such as those like Moore who are on parole, from residing within 1,000 feet of a school or day carecenter.  Because there was a day care down the street from the residence Moore was not allowedto move in.  In 2006 they bought a house on Miller Road in Southampton after Moore's paroleofficer approved the residence but was notified by Suffolk County that he was in violation of a newcounty law barring sex offenders from living within one-quarter mile of a school, day care center,playground, athletic field, public swimming pool, youth center, gym or video arcade.  Thathome was located next door to a day care center and he was given 45 days to move.  In 2007 hebought a house on Longview Road in Southampton.  The town of Southampton had enacted its ownresidency restriction law which bars sex offenders from living within a mile of a school that doesnot provide transportation to students living a mile or less from their school, 2,000 feet of aschool that does provide transportation or 1,000 feet of any child care or recreationalfacility.  Moore filed a civil rights action in the Eastern District alleging that the localresidency laws effectively made the entire county off-limits to registered sex offenders. There are 67 school districts and around 500 schools, plus over 1,000 day care centers.  Mooreclaims the laws violated the due process, equal protection and ex post facto provisions of theConstitution, and also argued that the local laws were invalid because of state preemption. Bruce Barket, Moore’s attorney, said he expects that Bianco's decision will lead to theelimination of residency restrictions in Suffolk County and in the town of Southampton.  Therewas no immediate response from attorneys for Suffolk County or the town of Southampton on thismatter.  Rudolph Baptiste of the county's law department represented Suffolk and Michael Cohenof Nixon Peabody in Jericho appeared for the town of Southampton.
(New York)