UPDATE, NOV. 29, 3:26 P.M.: Based on corrected information from the Orange County Public Defender, this post has been corrected throughout.
ORIGINAL POST, NOV. 28, 4:44 P.M.: Jean Pierre Nguyen holds the distinction of being the first person arrested in Irvine for violating the city's limited ban on sex offenders in parks.
Now, the Garden Grove 51-year-old also holds the distinction of being the first person sentenced under the Irvine Child Safety Zone ordinance.
But the case against the Garden Grove 51-year-old was dismissed after Orange County Superior Court Judge Everett Dickey ruled Irvine's Child Safety Zone ordinance “is void because it is preempted by state law and is unconstitutional
because of vagueness and overbreadth,” according to Frank Ospino, the public defender of Orange County.
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A judge ordered Nguyen to spend 168 days in jail for essentially trying to play tennis in a park.
Ironically, this comes as the county law the Irvine ordinance is based on has been successfully challenged in court. (See the second link above.) Also, my colleague R. Scott Moxley has written about the role of the Irvine ordinance in the recent city election (link three).
Irvine Police detectives received a tip from the Orange County Probation
Department that Nguyen was coming to Citrus Glen
Park to play tennis in September. On probation for indecent exposure in Garden Grove earlier this year,
Nguyen has been forced to register as a sex offender since a 1996 conviction for misdemeanor
child annoyance in Cypress.
Detectives staked out at the park witnessed Nguyen park his car and walk to the tennis courts, where he was
confronted, interviewed and arrested for
violating his probation and Irvine's Child Safety Zone ordinance, which applies only to sex offenders who have preyed on children in the past. The county ordinance and those of other Orange County cities apply to all registered sex offenders, irregardless of the age of their victims.
Here is what happened next, as Ospino clarifies in an email:
1) Upon being charged with a violation of Irvine's Child Safety Zone ordinance, the Public Defender's Office was appointed to represent Mr. Nguyen. The Public Defender's Office filed a demurrer to the complaint. The demurrer sought to declare Irvine's ordinance void because: 1) it is preempted by State Law; and 2) is unconstitutional because of vagueness and overbreadth.
2) On Tuesday, November 27, 2012, the Honorable Everett Dickey, Judge of the Superior Court, sustained the demurrer to the Irvine ordinance on all grounds – preemption, vagueness, and overbreadth. The complaint against Mr. Nguyen charging him with a violation of Irvine's Child Safety Zone ordinance was DISMISSED.
In sum, on November 27, 2012, the Superior Court of Orange County ruled that Irvine's Child Safety Zone ordinance is void and unenforceable because it is unconstitutional and the subject area (sex offenders) is preempted by State Law. Judge Dickey agreed with all of the legal arguments raised by Mr. Nguyen.
Judge Dickey's ruling is wholly consistent with the November 15, 2012, ruling of the Appellate Division of the Superior Court in which the Appellate Division determined that the similar County of Orange Ordinance is void. (see, Superior Court file People v. Godinez, case number 30-2011-00530069] and OC Weekly article “[UPDATED with OCDA Reaction:] Orange County Pervs-in-Parks Ban Violates State Constitution: Judicial Panel)”)
It should be noted that Judge Dickey's ruling is likewise consistent with the Superior Court ruling in People v. Randolph Carr, case number 12CM05955, declaring Tustin's similar park ordinance unconstitutional.
Ospino, who attached to his email a copy of the Superior Court minute order showing the dismissal, ended by stating he could only assume OC Weekly was provided inaccurate information. That assumption was correct. The Weekly and Navel Gazing regret the error.