United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
TIMOTHY D. DEGIUSTI, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Defendants' Joint Brief in Opposition of
Granting Plaintiff Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 39]. The Joint
Opposition was filed in response to the undersigned's
Order [Doc. No. 34] directing Defendants to show why
Plaintiff is not entitled to summary judgment on his claims.
Order [Doc. No. 34] at 10-11.
issue in this case is the application of the residency
restrictions of the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registration Act
(“OSORA”), Okla. Stat. tit. 57, § 590(A), to
Plaintiff's home. The relevant residency restrictions
provide that it is:
unlawful for any person registered pursuant to the Sex
Offenders Registration Act to reside, either temporarily or
permanently, within a two-thousand-foot radius of any . . .
playground or park that is
established, operated or supported in whole or in part by a
Okla. Stat. tit. 57, § 590(A) (emphasis added). The
statute goes on to define “park” as “any
outdoor public area specifically
designated as being used for recreational
purposes that is operated or supported in whole or in part by
a homeowners' association.” Okla. Stat. tit. 21,
§ 1125. Plaintiff acknowledged these restrictions and
definitions in writing prior to his release from
incarceration in 2016. Notice of Duty to Register (pursuant
to Okla. Stat. tit. 57, §§ 581-590.2, 21,
§§ 1125) [Doc. No. 31-6] at ¶¶ 9-10
January 17, 2017, Oklahoma City notified Plaintiff
that-pursuant to OSORA- his home address was “not
acceptable” because of an unidentified
“park/playground.” Address Check Form [Doc. No.
31-9]. Plaintiff sued stating three causes of action: (1)
that, as applied, § 590 of OSORA violates Article 1,
Section 10, the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United
States Constitution; (2) that, as applied, § 590 of
OSORA violates the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process
Clause; and (3) claim for declaratory relief and an
injunction to enjoin Defendants from enforcing OSORA against
Plaintiff. Second Amended Complaint [Doc. No. 10] at 2-5.
City of Oklahoma City (“Oklahoma City”) filed its
Motion for Summary Judgment on April 8, 2019. [Doc. No. 31].
Oklahoma City argued there was no dispute as to whether the
OSORA residency restrictions applied to Plaintiff, as his
residence is located within 2, 000 feet of “common
areas” or “a large piece of land.” Order
[Doc. No. 34] at 5, 8. Oklahoma City attempted to show that
several nearby “common areas” and “large
piece[s] of land” are operated or supported by a
homeowners' association and noted that the land
“can be used anytime for
recreational purposes.” Order [Doc. No. 34] at 5, 8
(quoting Motion [Doc. No. 31] at 17) (emphasis added).
Oklahoma City did not identify which of these “common
areas” or “large piece[s] of land” was the
“park/playground” used to make the original
determination that Plaintiff's home was “not
acceptable, ” pursuant to OSORA. Rather, Oklahoma City
“instead refer[red] to multiple common areas it alleges
are sufficient to trigger the residency restrictions.”
Order [Doc. No. 34] at 5, n.3.
response to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment,
Plaintiff disputed whether the “common areas” are
parks or playgrounds within the meaning of OSORA.
Plaintiff's Response to Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc.
No. 32]. Plaintiff contested the application of the residency
restrictions based on those “common areas.” He
asserted that, given this unresolved matter of statutory
interpretation, a question of law precluded summary judgment
in favor of Oklahoma City. Id. at 1.
17, 2019, the Court determined that Oklahoma City failed to
provide any evidence that the “common areas” were
“established, operated or supported in whole or in part
by a homeowner's association, ” nor that they had
been “specifically designated as being used for
recreational purposes, ” as required by
OSORA. Order [Doc. No. 34] at 6- 9 (citing Okla.
Stat. tit. 57, § 590(A); Okla. Stat. tit. 21, §
1125). Oklahoma City did not establish that it was entitled
to judgment as a matter of law. Based on the lack of evidence
supporting the application of the residency restrictions, the
Court directed all Defendants to show cause why summary
judgment should not be granted to Plaintiff. Order [Doc. No.
34] at 9-10, 11.
collectively filed a Joint Brief in Opposition of Granting
Plaintiff Summary Judgment. [Doc. No. 39]. The Joint
Opposition asserts that a question of material fact remains,
as the “question of how the subject common areas have
been specifically designated or provided must be
answered.” Joint Opposition at 4. Plaintiff did not
respond to Defendants' Joint Opposition. Because the
Court directed Defendants to show cause why summary judgment
for Plaintiff should not be granted, Plaintiff is free to
rest on the insufficiency of Defendants' filing.
Court has federal question jurisdiction over the present
action based on the two constitutional challenges brought
against Okla. Stat. tit. 57, §590. 28 U.S.C. §
1331. The Court, however, will not now reach these issues;
the case is properly-and more narrowly-resolved through the
application of OSORA. The Court, in its discretion, retains
subject matter jurisdiction over the state law claim pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c).
this narrow disposition leaves undecided legal issues argued
by the parties, the Court deems it unnecessary and improper
to opine on the constitutional questions. The United States
Supreme Court and fundamental adjudicatory principles suggest
that this Court “should forbear resolving
[these] issue[s].” Camreta v. Greene, 563 U.S.
692 (2011) (emphasis in original). The “longstanding
principle of judicial restraint requires that courts avoid
reaching constitutional questions in advance of the necessity
of deciding them.” Id. (quoting Lyng v.
Nw. Indian Cemetery Protective Ass'n., 485 U.S. 439,
445 (1988)); see also Ashwander v. TVA, 297 U.S.
288, 346-47 (1936) (Brandeis, J., concurring).
case can be fully and properly resolved without reaching the
constitutional issues presented. The Court's holding on
the inapplicability of the OSORA restrictions to Plaintiff
moots the constitutional issues raised in this case. The
Court, therefore, does not decide them.