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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Saturday, May 21, 2016

East Lansing Riot Ordinance Ruled Unconstitutional

This one got our attention. A district court judge in East Lansing struck down a township ordinance making it a crime to to stand within 300-feet of a fire and not report it to police.

The so-called "riot" ordinance was designed to curb the swell of unruly crowds during the occasional but persistent student riots in and around the Cedar Village neighborhoods.

Our law firm routinely represents students from Oakland County that attend Michigan State University. On a few of those occasions, our clients have been charged with East Lansing's ordinance in the wake of a significant Spartan victory.

On both occasions, at the pretrials, we challenged the ordinance on constitutional grounds. Our argument was that the wording of the ordinance was vague and over broad, including within its scope legal conduct under our First Amendment right to peaceful assembly.

When we made that argument, we were offered plea reductions to trespass or disturbing the peace on both occasions, with the tickets being dismissed following a brief period of non-reporting probation. This, of course, removed the opportunity to further challenge the ordinance.

Now that at least one judge has ruled this ordinance unconstitutional, we shall see whether the township appeals the ruling. If they do, the matter will proceed to the Ingham County Circuit Court and, from there, to the Michigan Court of Appeals by application for leave.

East Lansing Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows stated that the township would either amend the ordinance to remove its unconstitutional bent, or appeal 54-B District Judge Andrea Larkin's order. The local police chief criticized Judge Larkin's order, saying the ordinance was an effective way of controlling large crowds and fires.

In a free society, however, the more a law chills free speech and freedom of assembly -despite its utility as a law enforcement tool- the closer it comes to violating of our fundamental rights. Unfortunately, one of the hallmarks of our free society is that Spartyville erupts following their big victories.

Post #540

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Blogger Unknown said...

About time. Thanks for this.

June 8, 2016 at 10:01 PM 

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