U.S. Seventh Circuit - The FindLaw 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

No Problemo With Ex Post Facto

Joshua Vasquez and Miguel Cardona were upset when a new law required them to move.

They sued because they had no other suitable housing, but a trial judge threw out their case. And in Vasquez v. Foxx, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the trial judge.

It may have been a hardship for the plaintiffs, but it wasn't a hard case for the appeals court. Vasquez and Cardona are sex offenders, and the law said they can't live within 500 feet of child-care homes.

Ex Post Facto

Probation conditions were a no-brainer for the Illinois sex offenders. Vasquez had been convicted of possessing child pornography, and Cardona of indecent solicitation of a minor.

They had to register and stay away from schools, playgrounds, and child-care centers. After their convictions, however, the state added child day-care homes and group day-care homes to the list of places protected by a 500-foot buffer zone.

Vasquez and Cardona challenged the new law, saying it violated the ex post facto clause and other provisions of the U.S. Constitution. In a unanimous opinion, the Seventh Circuit disagreed.

The appeals court said an ex post facto law is not impermissible unless it is retroactive and penal. In Vasquez, the Seventh Circuit said the penalty of the amended law would apply "only to conduct occurring after its enactment."

Sixth Circuit Issue

The appellate judges noted that a sister circuit had excoriated a Michigan sex-offender law as a "byzantine code governing in minute detail the lives of the state's sex offenders" in Does #1-5 v. Snyder.

In that case, the Sixth Circuit said the state had violated the ex post facto clause with a bundle of punitive amendments. The Seventh Circuit said the Illinois amendment was different.

"The single 2008 amendment at issue in this case does not remotely compare," the judges said.

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