7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Case Name: Peter Nelson v. Town of Paris
Case No.: 22-2435
Officials: Sykes, Chief Judge, and Rovner and Lee, Circuit Judges.
Focus: Sex Offender Residency Restrictions
In 2008, the town of Paris, in rural Kenosha County of Wisconsin, implemented an ordinance titled “Sex Offender Residency Restrictions.” This ordinance imposed limitations on the permissible residential locations for specific categorized sex offenders within the community. Notably, the ordinance stipulated that designated offenders were prohibited from residing within a distance of 6,500 feet from certain specified areas where children were known to gather. Furthermore, it also forbade designated offenders from residing within the same 6,500-foot radius of another designated offender. Nelson, a former resident of Paris and one of the designated offenders, faced a citation for violating the designated offenders restriction within the ordinance. He filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, contending that the ordinance, both on its face and in its application, infringed upon his constitutional right to substantive due process and contravened Article I’s prohibition of ex post facto laws.
The Seventh Circuit upheld, in part, the summary judgment that favored the town of Paris. It highlighted that Nelson himself acknowledged that the “protected locations” provision of the ordinance was reasonably connected to Paris’s legitimate objective of safeguarding children. The court concluded that the restriction within the ordinance, which prevented designated offenders from residing within 6,500 feet of the specified protected locations, did not violate the Ex Post Facto Clause of the Constitution. This determination stemmed from the fact that the restriction did not exhibit a punitive purpose or impact of such magnitude as to negate the town’s underlying non-punitive intent. However, the court opted to remand the question concerning another aspect of the ordinance: the prohibition on designated offenders residing within 6,500 feet of each other.
Affirmed, Vacated and Remanded.