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City evicts entire family after houseguest commits crime


pies klasy robotniczej
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Midas Supporter
Apr 5, 2010
Illinois Family Sues to End Law Threatening Them With Compulsory Eviction for a Crime They Did Not Commit
After a house guest was arrested, Granite City, Ill. police are now trying to evict everyone in the home: An innocent family with three teenaged kids


On a sunny afternoon last month, Jessica Barron and Kenny Wylie were startled to hear a knock on the door of their home on a quiet street in Granite City, Illinois, a suburb of St. Louis. The knock quickly turned into pounding and a call: “Police, open up!” Adrenaline rushing, they told their kids to go to their rooms, and then went to the door to find a group of police officers standing on their porch. The officers were there to serve an eviction notice—not an eviction notice from their landlord (who knew nothing about it), but an eviction notice from the city. Under a city ordinance, the notice said, Jessica and Kenny’s family had to be evicted immediately because a member of their “household”—actually a teenage friend of their son who stayed with them sometimes—had committed a crime.

Faced with the imminent threat of eviction for a crime they did not commit, Jessica and Kenny, along with their landlord Bill Campbell, decided to fight back. Partnering with the Institute for Justice (IJ), they today filed a federal lawsuit challenging Granite City’s compulsory-eviction ordinance, which allows police to force landlords to evict an entire household after anyone who has stayed in the house—even a house guest—commits a crime.

“No one should be punished for a crime someone else committed,” said Robert McNamara, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice. “That simple notion is at the heart of our criminal justice system—that we are all innocent until proven guilty. And yet Granite City is punishing an innocent family for a crime committed by someone they barely knew.”

Jessica and Kenny’s problems started this winter when a friend of their teenage son asked if he could crash on their couch. Jessica and Kenny have always prided themselves on their ability to provide a safe haven for young people who are facing troubles or have nowhere else to turn, so with temperatures plunging below zero, they told him he could stay.

But the arrangement didn’t work out: Jessica caught the young man trying to steal from her, and it eventually came out that many of the stories he told them simply weren’t true. Among other things, he said that his mother was dead when she was very much alive and well. So, they told him he had to go. Unfortunately, they were not the only people the young man tried to steal from; he tried to steal from others, including committing a burglary at a nearby restaurant.

He was quickly arrested for the burglary. In fact, Jessica was the one who turned him in to the police, after she found him hiding in her crawlspace. He pled guilty, was sentenced to probation, and his case was closed. But for Jessica and Kenny, that was just the beginning of their troubles.

Under Granite City’s so-called “crime-free housing” ordinance, private landlords are required (on pain of fines or revocation of their rental license) to evict an entire household of tenants if police believe any member—even a house guest—committed a crime. There is no requirement that the tenants participated in or even knew about the crime: If one member of the household is a criminal, the whole household can automatically be punished for their crime. That is true even if the tenants’ landlord wants them to stay, which is the case here. Jessica and Kenny’s landlord, Bill, sees no reason for them to leave: They are good tenants, and they have long since removed the teenager who committed the burglary from the house.

“I don’t know what we’ll do,” said Jessica. “Buying a home isn’t an option for us, and with an eviction on our record, it’ll be nearly impossible to find another place to rent. I cannot believe we could end up homeless because we choose to open our home to someone in need—someone we trusted, but who was not the person he claimed to be.”

Granite City’s compulsory-eviction law traces its roots to “one-strike” policies adopted by public-housing authorities in the 1980s and 1990s. Those laws were controversial but ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court in 2002. But in permitting those laws in public housing, the Court made very clear that its ruling was limited to a setting where the government was acting as landlord and that the analysis would be very different if the government tried to use its regulatory powers to force private landlords or tenants to follow a similar rule.

Despite the Supreme Court’s warning, municipalities across the country have adopted these so-called “crime-free” ordinances. The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law identified more than 50 municipalities in Illinois alone with such ordinances. Ultimately, these ordinances have little to do with punishing criminals and everything to do with punishing renters who happen to be friends, family or even just roommates with a person who commits a crime.

“Your home is your castle, whether you own it or rent it, and a lease is no different than a deed in terms of the property rights it confers,” said IJ attorney Sam Gedge. “The government cannot extinguish those rights just because it chooses not to respect them. No one thinks Granite City could get away with evicting a homeowner, or forcing their bank to foreclose on them just because a teenage roommate broke the law.”

Gedge continued: “What Granite City is doing is not just wrong, it is plainly unconstitutional. The Constitution does not allow the government to punish people for who their roommates are or for crimes other people have committed. The government cannot take away your home—whether you own it or rent it—because of something someone else did somewhere else.”

This is not the first time the Institute for Justice has litigated in the St. Louis area. In 2015, IJ filed a class action lawsuit challenging the City of Pagedale’s use of municipal fines for trivial housing code violations to raise government revenue. That lawsuit resulted in a court order ending Pagedale’s abusive system and put in place a monitoring plan to ensure it never returns.

“Government officials cannot treat people as second-class citizens simply because they are poor or renters,” said IJ President and General Counsel Scott Bullock. “Property rights are property rights for renters and owners alike, and IJ is committed to ensuring that those rights are protected for all Americans.”


Site Mgr
Sr Site Supporter
GIM Hall Of Fame
Mar 28, 2010
Rocky Mountains
I'd say this is a 'color of law' ordinance and unconstitutional...

Yick Wo v Hopkins covered this quite well.

Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356 (1886),​
Sovereignty itself is, of course, not subject to law, for it is the author and source of law; but in our system, while sovereign powers are delegated to the agencies of government, sovereignty itself remains with the people, by whom and for whom all government exists and acts. And the law is the definition and limitation of power. It is, indeed, quite true that there must always be lodged somewhere, and in some person or body, the authority of final decision; and in many cases of mere administration, the responsibility is purely political, no appeal lying except to the ultimate tribunal of the public judgment, exercised either in the pressure of opinion, or by means of the suffrage. But the fundamental rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, considered as individual possessions, are secured by those maxims of constitutional law which are the monuments showing the victorious progress of the race in securing to men the blessings of civilization under the reign of just and equal laws, so that, in the famous language of the Massachusetts bill of rights, the government of the commonwealth 'may be a government of laws and not of men.' For the very idea that one man may be compelled to hold his life, or the means of living, or any material right essential to the enjoyment of life, at the mere will of another, seems to be intolerable in any country where freedom prevails, as being the essence of slavery itself.

Nutshell: After the San Fransisco fire, the City tried to keep a Chinaman from operating a laundry unless it was in a brick building. Wood buildings were risky fire hazards, but only the wealthy could afford brick.


Gold Member
Gold Chaser
Sr Site Supporter
Apr 2, 2010
I know a little about this case and will post something written by someone else on it. Granite City is a home rule community making the city council think they dont have to follow constitutional and state law. Granite is just another town trashed by years of corrupt Democrat politicians who hold a stranglehold on all political processes similar to larger cities like Chicago etc. Granite also has a large population of the free state army types and as Illinois is a sanctuary state it has its share of non English speaking immigrants.


    What happens when good roommates go bad? What happens when boyfriend and girlfriend break up? What happens when a guest overstays its welcome? What happens when children grow up to be jobless adults? What happens when the people who live with these people or have control over the property they occupy want them to move out? I regularly receive calls related to family, guest, and roommate evictions. The people who call me are regularly surprised to find out that they do not have a right to just change the locks on the child or to call the police and have the roommate arrested for trespass. (Here’s a refresher on this article)

    “But the roommate is my ex-girlfriend and she never signed a lease” a caller protests. It doesn’t matter. “I just let him in to get back on his feet and he said he would move out”. It doesn’t matter. “My daughter is an adult now, but she refuses to pay rent”. It doesn’t matter. The family member, guest, or roommate holds possession of the property by the prior agreement of the person having a claim of title (whether that is the landowner or the person named in a lease) and can only be removed by going through the Illinois eviction process.

    Illinois law is well settled and clear on this issue. Long ago, the common law provided that a property owner could forcibly eject people who were no longer welcome on the owner’s property. This could (and did) lead to a disturbance of the peace and possibly the injury or death of the (former) tenant. As a result, states enacted eviction laws. The Illinois forcible entry and detainer act was established to provide a lawful and peaceful framework for the removal of people from real property. The Illinois law puts it like this:

    …no person has the right to take possession, by force, of premises occupied or possessed by another, even though such person may be justly entitled to such possession. The forcible entry and detainer statute provides the complete remedy at law for settling such disputes. Persons seeking possession must use this remedy rather than use force. Ross v. Youngman (1906), 125 Ill.App. 494, 496, citing Phelps v. Randolph (1893)

    What about calling the cops and having the no-longer wanted tenant removed as a criminal trespasser? More often than not, a call to the local police will not result in the expulsion of a guest, roommate, or a family member from a property. The Forcible Entry and Detainer Act applies to the police as well as landlords and a police officer who removes a person who maintains possession upon the apparent agreement of some person with authority to grant access can be subject to claims of civil rights violations. As a result, a roommate, guest, or family member who can show that they were “allowed” possession of a property will likely not be removed as a criminal trespasser by the police.

    So, what is a person to do to get a guest, roommate, or family member out? They must terminate the right of possession of the unwanted guest, roommate, or family member. Although factual situations can vary greatly (consult an attorney about yours!), this is usually done by way of a thirty day notice to terminate a tenancy. After the thirty day notice expires, if the occupant is still in possession, an eviction lawsuit can be filed.

    Does this process take a long time? Can it be costly? Is it a huge hassle? Yes, yes, yes. It is also the only option when it comes to evicting an unwanted occupant who had possession by either real or apparent permission.