SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The California Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to review a lower court's ruling striking down sex-offender restrictions in Orange County that were among the strictest in the state.
The move means that local bans in dozens of California communities are trumped by state law and invalidated, as the 4th District Court of Appeal found in January.
“We're obviously disappointed,” Susan Kang Schroeder, chief of staff for Orange County's district attorney, told City News Service. “We put our heart and soul in every brief and every argument to protect the children of Orange County from dangerous sex offenders. ... We still believe it was the right thing to do.”
Some 30 cities statewide, half of them in Orange County, have passed sex-offender ordinances that the Supreme Court's action effectively invalidates. To revive them, state law would have to be changed to allow for different local restrictions.
Orange County's restrictions passed in 2011 barred offenders from parks and beaches unless they had written permission from the sheriff.
But in 2012, a county court overturned the misdemeanor conviction of a sex offender, Hugo Godinez, for going to a company picnic at a Fountain Valley park and asked the appeals court to rule on the case and the legality of the regulations.
The appeals judges found that the rule conflicts with laws passed by the state that already provide a “comprehensive statutory scheme regulating the daily life of sex offenders.” It struck down a similar ordinance in the city of Irvine.
On the urging of Orange County's district attorney, several other localities had passed similar measures. Many of them were also facing legal challenges and several, including the cities of Lake Forest and Lancaster and the county of El Dorado, repealed their measures.
The Sheriff's Department had already stopped enforcing the law in response.