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Panhandling Lawsuit Dismissed; Attorney Says Fight Not Over

By: Jessica Jaglois Email
By: Jessica Jaglois Email

January 20, 2012

UPDATE

Jeffrey Fogel, the attorney representing five panhandlers in their pursuit to have the City of Charlottesville's ordinance deemed unconstitutional, says the fight isn't over.

The lawsuit filed by Fogel on behalf of the panhandlers was dismissed by federal court Judge Norman K. Moon on Thursday. But the attorney says they won't give up just yet.

"We're either going to be asking Judge Moon to reconsider or we'll be appealing the case, but we are very upset about the manner in which he decided the case not just the end result of the case," Fogel told CBS19. "It's not so much my clients are being harmed, it's that the First Amendment is being harmed and that should be of concern to everyone, not just my clients."

Fogel says he plans to decide which avenue to take - ask Judge Moon to reconsider or take the case to the court of appeals - by next week.


January 19, 2012

A lawsuit filed by a group of panhandlers against the City of Charlottesville has been thrown out.

Five panhandlers - Albert Clatterbuck, Christopher Martin, Earl McGraw, John Jordan and Michael Sloan - filed the lawsuit last summer, arguing that the city's panhandling ordinance is unconstitutional and discriminates against homeless panhandlers.

The panhandlers, most of whom are homeless, filed the civil rights lawsuit with the help of lawyer Jeffrey Fogel. Thursday, federal court judge Norman Moon dismissed the lawsuit. His opinion stated:

"The ordinance does not distinguish between favored and disfavored solicitation, and it does not discriminate based on a solicitor's identity."

The ordinance prohibits aggressive panhandling or soliciting of customers sitting at outdoor cafes or within 50 feet of two streets - 2nd Street SE and 4th Street NE - that cross the busy pedestrian mall. It doesn't allow panhandlers to make physical contact or intimidate someone on the mall. It also doesn't allow some forms of what is called passive panhandling, like holding up a sign.

The bottom line: the city will not have to change the ordinance and beggars will have to keep their distance from banks and restaurants.


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