JACKSON -- The Butts County Sheriff's Office says a federal judge has not yet issued a ruling in a case brought by a group of sex offenders challenging the placement of "no trick-or-treat" signs in their yards ahead of Halloween.
A hearing in the case was scheduled for Thursday morning in U.S. District Court in Macon.
"Our office is being inundated with phone calls about the status of the hearing that took place this morning," the Butts County Sheriff's Office said in a Facebook post Thursday afternoon. "Per the Staff and Sheriff's Attorney, we have been advised to make no statements until the Judge has made a ruling. The Judge has made no ruling at this time."
Three residents of Butts County on the Georgia Sex Offender Registry brought the case against Butts County Sheriff Gary Long and other sheriff's office employees, asking a federal judge to bar deputies from placing signs on their properties that read: "Waring! No trick-or-treat at this address!! A community safety message from Butts County Sheriff Gary Long."
Attorneys for the plaintiffs argue in the complaint that Georgia’s sex offender registry statute does not require such signs to be placed at the homes of offenders, and that the Butts County Sheriff’s Office did not have permission to enter their properties to place or collect them.
In addition to arguing deputies trespassed, the suit claims the signs caused “anxiety, embarrassment and humiliation,” and compelled “petitioners to endorse speech which they found objectionable.”
Long, in a statement, said the signs were posted last Halloween "to ensure the safety of our children."
"Regardless of the Judge’s ruling this Thursday, I WILL do everything within the letter of the Law to protect the children of this Community," Long said.