Judge rules on “No Trick or Treat Signs” – Registrants have rights

By Hayley Fowler

Three registered sex offenders in Georgia clutched a victory on the brink of Halloween when a federal judge ordered lawn signs deterring trick-or-treaters be removed from their homes.

Butts County Sheriff Gary Long argued last week the signs should remain while the lawsuit — brought by the three named plaintiffs seeking to represent a class of sex offenders who allege their civil rights were violated — moves forward.

But Judge Marc Thomas Treadwell disagreed Tuesday.

“The defendants should be aware that the authority for their blanket sign-posting is dubious at best and even more dubious if posted over the objection of registrants,” he said in an order.

The signs read, “Warning! No Trick or Treat at this address!!”

Treadwell’s order mandates the removal of signs from only the three named plaintiffs’ residences, finding others can stay up until the remaining class members’ objections are established.

“Although, as a practical matter, it might be assumed that anyone would object to such a message from law enforcement in front of their homes, the court is not comfortable making that assumption as a foundation for injunctive relief,” the order states.

It’s too late to appeal the decision given the close proximity to Halloween, the sheriff said in a Facebook post shortly after the order was released.

But Long said there will be increased law enforcement presence in neighborhoods where “sex offenders are likely to be.” He also urged community members not to “take matters into your own hands this Halloween.”

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