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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Courts - New Albany, adult store still await ruling

Dick Kaukas writes today in the Louisville Courier Journal:

It's been almost two years since lawyers for the city of New Albany and for the adult bookstore presented arguments before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago in the city's fight to shut down the store. There still has been no ruling, and the lawyers say that's an unusually long time. Most cases are decided in a year or less, they said.

In the meantime, the bookstore at 601 W. Main St. remains open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. * * *

New Albany DVD opened on Feb. 19, 2004. Within hours, the City Council adopted a six-month moratorium on any new sexually oriented businesses, and city officials ordered the store to close.

But a few days later, Mason sued in U.S. District Court in New Albany, claiming the store owner's right to free expression had been violated.

The case eventually went before U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker, where lawyers for the city argued that city officials were simply enforcing a zoning ordinance -- passed several weeks after New Albany DVD had been ordered closed -- to regulate adult businesses.

Barker ruled against the city, saying the ordinance was too broad, and she ordered the city to let the store stay open pending a trial. But the trial was put on hold pending the appeal of Barker's ruling.

City Attorney Shane Gibson said last week he had no idea why the appeal has not been decided yet.

Scott Bergthold, a Chattanooga, Tenn., lawyer who also is representing New Albany and specializes in defending municipal adult business regulations, said the amount of time taken by the court seems unusual.

Bergthold said the court might be grappling with some difficult issues as well as with a similar case from Indianapolis. The judges, he speculated, might be trying to reconcile the issues raised by the two cases.

Mason made the same point, adding that it's possible documents filed by both sides are contributing to how long the court is taking. He said he has tried to keep the court current on rulings in similar cases and recently sent information on one case to the court.

Still, Mason said the wait has been puzzling, especially given the 7th Circuit's reputation for reaching decisions quickly.

"I really don't have a clue why it's taking so long," he said.

Here is a long list of ILB entries in the New Albany case, the most recent (until today) being this one from Sept. 27th, 2005, headed "7th Circuit hears adult-store debate."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 29, 2007 01:16 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions