Look who’s back in the news! It’s Lance Glock, the AA and sex offender who, along with his wife, runs the Johnson Sober Living House in Covina, California. The two have filed a lawsuit against the city of Covina, declaring their new policy intended to hold sober houses accountable and insure they aren’t manipulating the system to be unconstitutional and an invasion of residents’ privacy. (As a point of clarity, don’t confuse “invasion of residents’ privacy” with “invasion residents’ privates,” which is what Lance Glock did when he 13th stepped a resident who had entrusted her recovery with him.) Naturally, they are hiding behind the Americans With Disabilities Act:
“The city wants to delve into the occupants’ private medical records to show they are protected by fair housing laws,” said Greg Lester, an attorney for Johnson House. “That’s an invasion of their privacy.”
The case centers around a sort of legal tangle.
The city generally prohibits business operated group living arrangements, like boarding houses. But outlawing such arrangements in the case of sober living homes would be a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act. The act is aimed at protecting home renters and buyers from discrimination based on race, gender, age and disability. And under the act, psychological disabilities, including recovering addicts, are included.
So, to avoid violating the federal law, the Covina City Council approved a policy in December that regulates conditions under which sober living homes can operate in the city.
One of the provisions requires that the facilities prove they aren’t just any boarding house. They must “submit a letter from a medical doctor, social or case worker, handicapped license, or other similar supportive evidence” to prove residents are protected under the Fair Housing Act.
Without such documentation, the city could not know if residents are staying there illegally, City Attorney Marco Martinez said.
But requiring a letter as proof constitutes an invasion of privacy, contend Glock and Repp, who say they would be forced to violate the Constitution or dissolve their business.
“It’s the demands for personal information that would violate the privacy rights of individual residents that is objectionable,” said Lou Fazzi, the lead attorney representing Johnson House.
My sad and bold prediction: Glock wins.