The Washington Superior Court has granted judgment to Christopher Hagan in his lawsuit against the City of Barre, striking the city's residency restriction ordinance that barred individuals with certain criminal convictions from living within most of Barre.
Hagan, who is represented by ACLU of Vermont Staff Attorney Dan Barrett, alleged that the ordinance barring him from living with his wife and children in a Barre apartment was null and void under Vermont law because the city lacked the legal authority to control where individuals may live. In late June, the Washington Superior Court issued a preliminary injunction forbidding Barre from enforcing the ordinance against Hagan.
Shortly after the June ruling, Hagan asked that the court enter summary judgment in his favor, as the city was unable to identify any relevant fact that granted it the legal authority to dictate where in Barre people may live. The city attempted to delay the ruling by arguing that it needed information about Hagan’s apartment lease, but the court turned aside the city’s request as immaterial because Hagan’s claim was that no law permitted the city to adopt the exclusion ordinance.
On Sept. 4, the court entered final judgment in Hagan's favor, ruling that the city had failed to identify any source of law that gives it the legal authority to dictate where in Barre people may live.
"We are very pleased by the ruling," said ACLU of Vermont Executive Director Allen Gilbert, noting that “Vermont municipalities cannot just take it upon themselves to decide who gets to move in to town or to dictate where people can and can’t live.”
Barrett praised the court’s ruling as a victory for the rule of law: “If a Vermonter is convicted of a crime, his or her punishment is determined by a court of law – not by a city council or a town selectboard. Vermont municipalities can’t simply decide to evict individuals who have paid their dues to society and are free.”