Panhandlers Appealing Dismissal of Lawsuit

February 1, 2012

Two weeks after their lawsuit against the City of Charlottesville was dismissed, a group of panhandlers have filed an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

The appeal was filed Wednesday by attorney Jeffrey Fogel on behalf of Albert Clatterbuck, Christopher Martin, Earl McGraw, John Jordan and Michael Sloan, most of whom are homeless. The five originally filed a lawsuit last summer arguing that the city's panhandling ordinance on the Downtown Mall is unconstitutional and discriminates against homeless panhandlers.

The city's request to have the lawsuit dismissed was granted by Judge Norman Moon on Jan. 18. In his opinion, Judge Moon wrote, "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 with or intimidate people on the mall, nor does it allow forms passive panhandling like holding up a sign.

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