Sex Offender in Limbo

Court of Appeal Overturns Judge’s Ruling

After Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Brian Hill ruled a parole condition requiring convicted sex offender Stanley Wallace not reside within 2,000 feet of any school or park was overly broad, a Court of Appeal reversed his decision, saying he didn’t follow the proper procedure in making the ruling. After listening to arguments from attorneys on both sides, Hill originally granted Wallace’s petition of habeas corpus because Wallace had not committed sex offenses against children.

Wallace was convicted in 1988 of sexual battery against an adult ​— ​a crime subjecting him to a lifetime sex-offender registration ​— ​and since then has been in and out of custody. Wallace argued that the law requiring him to not live within 2,000 feet of a school or park, as applied to Santa Barbara, prevented him from finding housing. Hill agreed, saying the restriction “is unconstitutional as applied to [Wallace] because his offense did not involve a minor.”

But the Court of Appeal said Hill should have held an evidentiary hearing on the issue to consider the totality of the circumstances (such as Wallace’s current parole status, the precise location of each of his residences, where similarly situated registered sex offenders live) and not have just listened to arguments from attorneys. The appellate court noted a similar case where the matter was sent back to the trial court to hold an evidentiary hearing on a variety of complex issues. (Full disclosure: This reporter attends a law class taught by Hill.)

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