Benjamin, Aaronson, Edinger & Patanzo, P.A.

1st Amendment News

    Although there is very little new as far as the First Amendment and adult entertainment in South Florida, we still would like to keep you informed of what is going on.  On an issue that is both important to South Florida and to the rest of the State, as we informed you previously, the State legislature is in the process of amending the lewdness laws within the State.  

Currently, the crime of lewdness requires one or more persons present to be offended and most of the courts throughout the State have agreed that that person cannot be a police officer.  Currently, there are bills in front of the State House and Senate to change this to allow a police officer or a reasonable man standard as to whether someone is offended for the crime of lewdness to occur.  So far, the legislation has not passed both houses, and there still is hope that it won’t.  If it does, Benjamin & Aaronson along with several other attorneys around the State are prepared legally practical to file a lawsuit or lawsuits challenging its constitutionality.  Hopefully, we will not have to file these lawsuits, because hopefully the legislation will not be passed.

As to litigation in South Florida, as you may remember, three adult book and video stores have filed suit against Miami-Dade County to have the doors off the booths ordinance declared unconstitutional.  At the current time, the litigation is still in the discovery stage, with the bookstores expert’s report due by May 16, 2005.  Depositions of some of the county’s witnesses will have been taken by the time this article is published.

On another note, litigation in northern Florida involving Lollipops v. City of Daytona Beach is still going on.  Both sides have been ordered by the United States District Court Judge John Antoon, III to have closing arguments and a proposed Order submitted to him by May 16, 2005, with oral argument on those closing arguments scheduled for the next week.  Approximately 1100 pages of trial transcript has been generated in this case although going through the record will be tedious, Daniel Aaronson will have a closing argument completed by the May 16, 2005 deadline.

Lastly, again in a case involving the northern part of the State, Benjamin & Aaronson, along with Gary Edinger out of Gainesville are waiting for a ruling on a preliminary injunction request from United States District Court Judge Hodges.  Benjamin & Aaronson along with Gary Edinger filed a lawsuit against the Sumter County Sheriff and the State Attorney for that jurisdiction claiming that they were prosecuting “X-Mart Superstore” for obscenity sales and bad faith.  Benjamin & Aaronson along with Gary Edinger asserted that the only purpose for bringing the obscenity prosecutions against X-Mart’s employees is not because they cared about obscenity but rather that they were using it as a tool to close down X-Mart.

Oral argument was held on this matter before Judge Hodges towards the end of March with a proposed Order sent in by Benjamin & Aaronson and Edinger shortly thereafter.

Regardless of the Judge’s decision, on the preliminary injunction, Benjamin & Aaronson along with Gary Edinger intend to keep fighting this issue until a permanent injunction is issued against the Sheriff and the State Attorney.  Both of these officials had previously made statements indicating that they wanted to do whatever they could to close down X-Mart.  

Finally, settlements are being reached involving lawsuits against the City of Miami and the Miami Police Department for their actions during the Free Trade of Americas’ arrests from one and a half to two years ago.  It has come to light, that many of the females arrested for simply protesting, exercising their First Amendment freedoms legally, not only were searched, but had body cavity searches done upon them.  It further came to light, this was not an isolated incident, and at numerous times in the past body cavity searches of females were in fact conducted.  The worst part of this whole affair, is that the City of Miami passed ordinances ordering to stop protestors.  They knew these ordinances were unconstitutional, as was evidenced by the fact that after the Free Trade of Americas Conference was over these ordinances were repealed. 

    Again, if you have any other local or state news involving the First Amendment or adult entertainment, please contact us at (954) 779-1700.

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