Federal Judge Rules City Exclusion Policy Unconstitutional
On February 26, U.S. District Court Judge Ancer Haggerty ruled that Portland City Code (PCC) 20.12.265, which Portland Police have used to issue orders excluding certain people from public places for 30 days, is unconstitutional. Under the ordinance, a police officer can issue a 30-day exclusion from any City park to any person who violates any state law, city or county code, or Park Bureau rule or regulation. The judge ruled that the ordinance violates the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of procedural and substantive due process.
The case stems from a 30-day exclusion order issued to a woman collecting signatures for medical marijuana in Pioneer Courthouse Square in April, 2002. The woman and her co-petitioner were excluded from the Square, Ankeny Plaza and the South Park Blocks for 30 days. They filed a civil suit in Federal Court against the City of Portland and Pioneer Courthouse Square under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violating their civil rights. The judge ruled that PCC 20.12.265 is unconstitutionally overbroad and violates the First Amendment on its face and as applied to the two women. The judge awarded summary judgment to the two plaintiffs, allowing them to collect compensatory damages. Almost immediately, Commissioner Jim Francesconi, who heads up the City's Parks Bureau, rewrote the City Code. But rather than improve it, he created exclusions that can last as long as 180 days.
For more information contact the Oregon Law Center at 503-295-2760.
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