Could New York City be forced to pay for issuing summonses for an unconstitutional law? That's the decision that U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin faces as she determines whether she will hold the city in contempt of court for failing to comply to her 2005 to stop enforcing an old panhandling law. The original law was struck down for violating the First Amendment in October 1992 by a different United States judge. That law allowed for the arrest of, "loiters, remains or wanders about in a public place for the purpose of begging." Despite the city revising the law to outlaw "aggressive panhandling," the NYPD was still enforcing the old law.
In the hearing yesterday, Sheindlin said it's "a sorry tale of noncompliance,” and that the rulings “are simply being ignored by the New York City Police Department. I don’t know why.” She's set to make her decision by April.
Since Sheindlin's ruling 2005, a class-action lawsuit says the NYPD has issued 700 summonses under the old panhandling law. Lawyers representing the class-action are asking the judge to fine the city $10,000 per illegal summons.
"Please Be Kind" by |Shrued on flickr