By US~Observer Staff
On November 29, 2005 Josephine County courtroom #3 was packed with individuals named in a lawsuit, filed by Club 71 owner Richard Larry Lacey, and those who supported them. Lacey stood alone with only his lawyer Claud Ingram for support in his cause as his case stood under a motion by the Sunny Valley Group for dismissal.
Richard Larry Lacey’s “pimp” ride infront of the
Josephine County courthouse.
Several months earlier Lacey had filed suit against protestors of his nude dancing establishment seeking monetary damages in the sum of $800,000.00 as his suit maintains that the protestors conspired to bring him economic and mental duress. Lacey asserts that the protestors have acted in violation of their first amendment rights and alleges that they have blocked traffic and physically intervened in the operations of his establishment.
The Sunny Valley Group is represented by the American Family Association (AFA), a non-profit organization that protects the rights of free speech, who, in response to Claud Ingram’s court filings submitted a petition for dismissal. In arguing their position they cited numerous cases which debunked Lacey’s assertions and Lacey’s attorney Ingram switched from a legal plea to an emotional one in what became a defense of his client, who is the plaintiff in the case, and the lawsuit. Ingram stressed that while the protestors are exercising their 1st amendment rights, they are trampling on the Constitutional rights of his client, as nude dancing is a protected form of entertainment under the Oregon and U.S. Constitutions. Countering the claim that the Sunny Valley Group was violating Lacey’s rights the AFA maintained that, constitutionally, Lacey did have a right to operate a nude dancing business, but that individuals can not violate another’s Constitutional rights, that is something only a government agency can do and that the Sunny Valley Group’s legitimacy in exercising their right to protest is paramount.
When all arguments were heard, an obviously attentive Judge Coon stated that he would have to read the case law citings and make his determination on the dismissal within 7 to 10 days.
On December 12, 2005 Judge Coon ruled in favor of the Sunny Valley Group thereby dismissing this attack against a group that is so obviously operating under its Constitutional rights.
If Lacey’s case would have been victorious it would have had serious implications in all first amendment cases where an individual or a group peacefully demonstrates against any business.
Judge Coon demonstrated character during the proceedings and projected a mirror image of justice in his ruling.