The Town Adminstrator of my town has issued a NO TRESPASS order on me personally. I'm a Private Citizen with no history criminal past. The No Trespass order is telling to stay off of Senior Center grounds and the building. Is this legal? I feel it's a public building and I have enjoying the Center for several years with no trouble. Is this against my civil rights?

  • Why are you prohibited from the Senior Center? There may be laws in place about your specific situation.
    – JAB
    Jun 13, 2018 at 23:22
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    Is the Senior Center owned and run by the town? Or is it a private business? Or a non-profit? Jun 14, 2018 at 0:55
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    There has to be more to the story here, the administrator didn't walk through the building and pick a random law-abiding, rule-abiding individual to issue a no-trespass order on. If you feel this is in error, maybe the administrator meant it for somebody else but got your name instead?
    – Ron Beyer
    Jun 14, 2018 at 1:19
  • You appear to have created two unlinked accounts (SeniorInMASS and linda bassett). If you merge them, you will be able to edit your own question and post comments on the question and its answers. I don't know whether you need to "register" them before you can merge them, since I don't quite understand what registering is. Click here to find out more about merging accounts.
    – phoog
    May 8, 2019 at 19:48

3 Answers 3


What do you mean by "a public building"?

Just because a place is owned by the public, doesn't mean anyone can go there any time they wish. Military bases, firehouses, and jails are owned by the public, but many of these have limited access to the public.

It may be open to the general public, but that does not mean restrictions cannot be put into place, either on times, or activities, or individuals. For example, public parks often have time and activity restrictions; schools have the power to restrict individuals from their premises, either specifically or by general category.

As a general point of law, the owner of any property, or their agent, can order anyone without the right to stay (e.g. not a co-owner or tenant), and that person must depart, otherwise that person is tresspassing. Assuming that the Senior Center is owned by the town, it is probable that the Administrator is empowered to act as the town's agent in this matter.

Now, since this "No Trespass order" is specifically directed at you, there is a reason behind it. It may be something you've done. It may be that complaints have been received about your behavior. It may be an actual abuse by someone who doesn't like you. We have no way of knowing. It the order itself doesn't give you a hint as to why, you can ask the town administrator for the reason.

As for being against your rights, there is nothing inherently illegal about this situation(that is, an agent of a property owner exercising the latter's right to prohibit an individual from said property), but some of the details, especially why it was specifically applied to you as an individual might be a civil rights violation.

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    I was ticketed for not coming to a full stop. I went to traffic court and it was dismissed. The Administrator is stating that for the reason. As mentioned, I fought the small charge and my record is clean. Jun 14, 2018 at 17:39
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    @SeniorInMASS: I suggest editing that information into your question.
    – sharur
    Jun 14, 2018 at 18:38
  • Your record in court and the way the administrator looks at things are two different things @SeniorInMASS. I'm not saying I want you to not be able to do what you want, but just that you can't control other people.
    – Putvi
    May 8, 2019 at 17:48

If this Senior Center is operated by the local government for the general benefit of the public, and it, or parts of it, are open to the general public, then the government or properly delegated administrative officials may make and enforce regulations limiting access in appropriate cases.

However, such regulations may not be arbitrary or unreasonable, nor may they be administered in an arbitrary or unreasonable manner. Denial of access by the local government or its appointed officials or employees would constitute "State Action" under color of law and must pass muster under the Due Process clause of the 14th amendment of the US Federal Constitution.

By "denial of access" I mean an individual denial of access to those parts of the facility (if any) open to the general public, or if open only for a limited purpose, denial of access to a person wishing to use them for a designated and approved purpose. In short, an individual denial of the same access being granted to others at the same time, possibly based on alleged past conduct.

This page from Justia on Due Process requirements says:

Although due process tolerates variances in procedure “appropriate to the nature of the case,” (Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank & Trust Co., 339 U.S. 306, 313 (1950).) it is nonetheless possible to identify its core goals and requirements. First, “[p]rocedural due process rules are meant to protect persons not from the deprivation, but from the mistaken or unjustified deprivation of life, liberty, or property.”(Carey v. Piphus, 435 U.S. 247, 259 (1978).) Thus, the required elements of due process are those that “minimize substantively unfair or mistaken deprivations” by enabling persons to contest the basis upon which a state proposes to deprive them of protected interests.(Fuentes v. Shevin, 407 U.S. 67, 81 (1972)) The core of these requirements is notice and a hearing before an impartial tribunal. Due process may also require an opportunity for confrontation and cross-examination, and for discovery; that a decision be made based on the record, and that a party be allowed to be represented by counsel. (additional citations in footnotes omitted)

Written regulations specifying when denial of access is permitted should exist, and should be provided on request, or failing that, via a Freedom of Information (or state equivalent) request.

If the local government has not explained its decisions beyond saying that "there have been complaints" and no hearing of any kind was ever held, the OP could file an action seeking to require such a hearing to be held, or else access to be restored. A lawyer would probably be needed to take such proceedings, and there is no guarantee that legal fees would be reimbursed, even of the action was successful.

A Section 1983 suit would be possible in theory. This would, if successful, result in money damages, not an injunction mandating access. No one can predict the chance of success without more specifics than are present in the question, and that is beyond the scope of this forum.

Carey v. Piphus

Carey v. Piphus, 435 U.S. 247 (1978) started as a pair of suits under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (derived from § 1 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871) This is the famous "Section 1983" under which people may take action against acts taken "under color of law" which deprive them of civil rights. This particular case started with two particular students in the public schools, each of whom was suspended without a hearing, and each of whom attempted to challenge the suspension as improper. Neither was accorded any opportunity to contest the suspensions in any way. The Court of Appeals decision held, and the US Supreme court affirmed, that the denial of a hearing was improper.

Although respondents' suspensions occurred before Goss v. Lopez was decided, the District Court thought that petitioners should have been placed on notice that the suspensions violated procedural due process by Linwood v. Board of Ed. of City of Peoria, 463 F.2d 763 (CA7), cert. denied, 409 U.S. 1027 (1972). Petitioners have not challenged this holding.


Even if respondents' suspensions were justified, and even if they did not suffer any other actual injury, the fact remains that they were deprived of their right to procedural due process.

"It is enough to invoke the procedural safeguards of the Fourteenth Amendment that a significant property interest is at stake, whatever the ultimate outcome of a hearing. . . ." Fuentes v. Shevin, 407 U.S. at 407 U. S. 87;

Because the right to procedural due process is "absolute" in the sense that it does not depend upon the merits of a claimant's substantive assertions, and because of the importance to organized society that procedural due process be observed, see Boddie v. Connecticut, 401 U. S. 371, 401 U. S. 37 (1971); Anti-Fascist Committee v. McGrath, 341 U.S. at 171-172 (Frankfurter, J., concurring), we believe that the denial of procedural due process should be actionable for nominal damages without proof of actual injury.

Carey v. Piphus was largely about whether the complainants should be entitled to sizable damages in the absence of any proof of having suffered harm beyond the procedurally invalid suspensions themselves. The Court held they they were entitled to nominal damages. But all the courts that reviewed the case accepted as basic that the failure to accord procedural due process on request was a violation of rights, and was wrongful under sec 1983. This was true even if a hearing would have upheld the suspensions.

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    @Putvi Nothing in the linked page in any way contradicts the answer above. The answer did not say, or imply, that all publicly owne3d buildings are or should be freely available to the public. When an area generally open to the public is being restricted as to a specific person, by a government, then Due process considerations apply. May 8, 2019 at 18:08
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    @Putvi yes that is true, but an individual ban still has due process requirements. i will clarify my answer. May 8, 2019 at 18:15
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    @Putvi the administrator may issue a ban, but must have a procedure in place by which the ban may be reviewed in a proper hearing, on request. This need not be a court hearing, but must be before an impartial decision maker, there must be proper notice including notice of the alleged grounds of action, and there must be a chance to present a defense with reasons why those grounds are invalid or do not apply. If no such hearing is available, the action is arbitrary and may be overturned by a court for lack of Due Process. May 8, 2019 at 18:25
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    @Putvi Did you read the cases cited in my answer?The banning authority does have to do all that, if the person banned insists (which most people don't). (Please do not move this to chat.) May 8, 2019 at 18:45
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    @putvi See Carey v. Piphus, 435 U.S. 247 (1978), which I am about to add to my answer May 8, 2019 at 19:02

If the city owns the building they can tell you to not go there. It's that simple.

  • This is not correct. The owner of a public accommodation can't exclude people on the basis of a protected characteristic, for example. The apparent pretext under which the person has been excluded suggests that something fishy might be going on.
    – phoog
    May 8, 2019 at 17:14
  • @phoog, that isn't true. They are not allowed to ban someone of a protected class just because they are a protected class, but they can ban a person.
    – Putvi
    May 8, 2019 at 17:16
  • Okay, my statement was imprecise. But the more precise statement still rebuts this answer, because there are restrictions on the city's authority to ban people from the building. It's not "that simple."
    – phoog
    May 8, 2019 at 17:29
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    Sure, but this answer doesn't get into that. It implies that the city can ban anyone for any reason or for no reason.
    – phoog
    May 8, 2019 at 17:36
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    If the facility is run by a governmental organization, it can ban people who violate listed rules, but the rules must be available on request, if not published, the rules must be reasonable, and the person may demand a due process hearing as to whether the rules properly apply to that person's conduct. It is just not the case tha tthe owner can exclude anyone for any reason, as this answer clearly implies. May 8, 2019 at 18:13

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