Judge rules Palmdale, CA, curfew law unconstitutional

PALMDALE, California — The city’s younger residents may have won a small victory last Wednesday in the form of a court decision.

Superior Court Judge Chesley N. McKay released a preliminary ruling that Palmdale’s curfew is unconstitutional. The statute was challenged by Los Angeles County Public Defender Barrera arguing on behalf of a 14 year old boy.

The ordinance states: “It is unlawful for any minor under the age of 18 years to loiter, idle, wander, stroll, or aimlessly drive or ride about, in, or upon any public street, avenue, highway, road, curb area, alley, park, playground or other public ground, public place or public building, place of amusement or eating place, vacant lot or unsupervised place between the hours of 10 p.m. on any day and sunrise of the immediately following day.”

Barrera argued that the words “loiter, idle, wander, stroll or aimlessly drive” are unconstitutionally vague. “The ordinance also infringes on freedom of speech and freedom of association,” he wrote.

Judge McKay’s finding was based on a decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled a similarly worded San Diego curfew unconstitutional.

The final ruling was delayed until Nov 29 to allow the prosecution additional time for research into decisions by other courts since the San Diego ruling. In the meantime, Palmdale officials can still enforce the curfew.