On December 15, 2017, the Texas Supreme Court handed down its opinion in City of Krum, Texas, Petitioner v. Taylor Rice, Respondent. Our Firm represents the City of Krum, which had passed a city ordinance prohibiting Registered Sex Offenders who had committed violations of the Penal Code involving minors under the age of sixteen years from residing “within 2,000 feet of any premises where children commonly gather.” Such an Ordinance is referred to as a Sex Offender Residency Restriction Ordinance (SORRO).
Rice was convicted of such an offense and was required to Register as a Sex Offender as a term and condition of his 10 year probation. In addition, his probation terms contained a similar distance marker of 1,000 feet between his residence and any place young children commonly gather. The very day Rice plead guilty and was placed on probation, he returned to live at his parents’ home which is located 75 feet from Krum Municipal Park. After Krum Police officers reminded Rice he needed to register with the Krum Police Department as required by law, Rice relocated his residence elsewhere outside the City of Krum. Rice then sued the City of Krum, asserting that the City had no lawful authority to pass its SORRO. Our Firm filed a Plea to the Jurisdiction in District Court in Denton and asked the Court to dismiss Rice’s case on the ground that Rice lacked any standing to sue the City. The District Court denied the City’s Plea. The City filed an interlocutory appeal of that decision in the Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth. That Court affirmed the trial Court’s decision.
The City appealed that decision to the Texas Supreme Court, which dismissed Rice’s case and vacated the rulings of both the trial Court and the Second Court of Appeals on the ground that Rice’s claims were mooted by a statute passed by the Texas Legislature, which became effective on September 1, 2017. The new statute extended authority to all General Law Cities in Texas (with under 5,000 population) to pass a SORRO that prohibits Registered Sex Offenders from going near “child safety zones” as defined in the statute. Among other things, the statute also capped the distance of any residency restriction at 1,000 feet and provides an exemption for persons who established residence within a restricted zone before the effective date of the relevant ordinance. Krum also amended its SORRO to comply with the new law. Given those facts, the Supreme Court ruled that Rice lacked standing to sue the City and the Court lacked jurisdiction to rule on his claims.
The Firm of Wolfe, Tidwell & McCoy, Frisco, Texas, were appellate counsel for the City of Krum