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Friday, September 19, 2008

Sit-Lie Law Survives First Constitutional Challenge

Posted by Matt Davis on Fri, Sep 19, 2008 at 5:07 PM

The controversial sit-lie law survived its first constitutional challenge in court this afternoon, with pro tem Judge Terry Hannon presiding.

The challenge, argued by attorney William Aring Meyer, on behalf of his client, Correy Gene Douglas Newman--a young street kid who has been cited three times--may have been unsuccessful, but Meyer plans to appeal the decision and it's very early days. I just spoke to Meyer on the phone, and he told me what happened:

Meyer called Monica Goracke, attorney for the Oregon Law Center, and co-chair of the mayor's Street Access For Everyone oversight committee, as a witness on Newman's behalf. Goracke reportedly described downtown and where the homeless tend to congregate, and said the law was focused on those areas. Meanwhile homeless activist and pastor Ken Loyd testified about the homeless in Portland, too. Downtown cop Craig Dobson reportedly said he'd cited Newman even though he had a sign saying he was "protesting" the law.

It's understood that Hannon ruled that the ordinance is constitutional because it only leads to a violation, and not a criminal prosecution. But Meyer disagrees.

"We want to appeal it. I think the judge is wrong on the law. This law really falls on the homeless and basically I think it allows the state to herd the homeless," he says.

We'll pull the transcripts from the court docket and have more detailed analysis for you next week. Constitutional arguments aside, City Council will take a report from the SAFE oversight committee on the law in November, and decide on its future.

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