On October 8, 2008, several sex offenders in Missouri filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri against the State of Missouri, several cities and counties in Missouri, and several police departments in Missouri. The plaintiffs were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri Foundation and private counsel. They asked the court for a preliminary injunction that prevented the police from enforcing R.S.Mo. §589.426, which prohibits certain activities for sex offenders on Halloween night, against them. The statue stated that sex offenders must: A) avoid all Halloween-related contact with children; B) remain inside his or her residence between the hours of 5 p.m.
and 10:30 p.m.; C) post a sign at his or her residence stating, 'No candy or treats at
this residence; and D) leave all outside residential lighting off during the evening hours
after 5 p.m. The Plaintiffs also asked for a declaratory judgment stating that the statute was unconstitutional under the federal constitution.
Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that they should not be subject to R.S.Mo § 589.426 since they were required to register as sex offenders based on convictions entered prior to June 30, 2008, which is when R.S.Mo § 589.426 was enacted. They alleged the statute was unconstitutional stating that it was ambiguous and did not give sex offenders ample notice of what conduct was prohibited.
On October 27, 2008, the District Court (Judge Carol E. Jackson) enjoined the defendants from enforcing R.S.Mo §589.426 on October 31, 2008. On October 30, 2008 the U.S. Court of Appeals (Eighth Circuit) granted the defendants motion for stay, allowing the defendants to enforce the statute on October 31, 2008.
On September 25, 2009, the District Court (Judge Carol E. Jackson) stayed all pending proceedings until State of Missouri v. Charles A. Raynor was concluded in Missouri state court. The stay was issued because Charles Raynor was charged under R.S.Mo §589.426 when he was required to register as a sex offender before the enactment of R.S.Mo. § 589.426. If the court ruled that under Missouri law, R.S.Mo. §589.426 could not apply retrospectively, the plaintiffs' case would be moot.
On October 27, 2010, the District Court (Judge Carol E. Jackson) dismissed the plaintiffs' claims as moot. This was based on the decision in State of Missouri v. Charles A. Raynor where it was ruled that R.S.Mo. §589.426 could not be enforced retrospectively against anyone required to register as a sex offender before its enactment. Since all of the plaintiffs were sex offenders who were required to register as sex offenders before R.S.Mo. §589.426 was enacted, the statute could not be enforced against them.
On August 25, 2011, the District Court (Judge Carol E. Jackson) ordered that the defendants reimburse the plaintiffs for attorneys' fees and court costs. On May 10, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals (Eight Circuit) ordered that the plaintiffs were not entitled to fees and costs under 42 U.S.C. § 1988. They based this on the fact that the plaintiffs' only victory was for a preliminary injunction that prevented the enforcement of R.S.Mo § 589.426 on October 31, 2008, and that this preliminary injunction was stayed. Since the plaintiffs' case was later dismissed as moot, the court ruled that they did not receive the judicial victory that was necessary for the recovery of attorney fees and court costs.Steve Vnuk - 12/04/2014