Friday, September 09, 2005

Judge lets rave arrests stand, ACLU vows to continue fight - FLINT JOURNAL

Here is another article about Flint, Michigan trial Judge Roberts's disappointing decision. In her holding she undermines the First Amendment rights to free association and free speech. It also violated the presumption in our system that guilt is individual, not collective and that we are responsible for the consequences of our own acts and not the acts of others.

As the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized “[T]he right to associate does not lose all constitutional protection merely because some members of the group may have participated in conduct …that itself is not protected.” NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Company, 458 U.S. 886, 908 (1982). While the citations against those who have in fact committed offenses may be sustained, “mere association with [a] group - absent a specific intent to further an unlawful aim embraced by that group - is an insufficient predicate for liability.” Id. at 920-26. “[G]uilt by association alone without (establishing) that an individual’s association poses a threat feared by the Government, ‘is an impermissible basis upon which to deny First Amendment rights [such as the right to free association at issue here].’” Healy v. James, 408 U.S. 169, 186 (1982) (quoting United States v. Robel, 389 U.S. 258, 265 (1967).

Additionally, Judge Roberts states that one should be aware of the presence of drugs at a "rave" in other words saying that if you enjoy a disfavored type of music, here electronic music, the government ought be allowed to arrest you. Not only is the premise that "raves" have a higher incidence of drug use flawed by a study by the Dept. of Justice, but its also unconstitutional to penalize someone based on musical taste. See Ward v. Rock Against Racism, 491 U.S. 781, 790 (1989) ("Music, as a form of expression and communication, is protected under the First Amendment."); Reed v. Village of Shorewood, 704 F.2d 943, 950 (7th Cir. 1983 (rejecting effort to close bar because of playing rock music); Fact Concerts, Inc. v. City of Newport, 626 F.2d 1060, 1063 (1st Cir. 1980) rev'd on other grounds, 453 U.S. 247 (1981)(ban on rock concert is content-based restriction on speech); Cinevision v. City of Burbank, 745 F.2d 560, 566 (9th Cir. 1984).

Judge Roberts' decision has chilled a legitimate form of artistic and cultural expression. The decision is wrong on the law and a strike at the heart of the First Amendment.



Friday, September 09, 2005By Ken Palmer
kpalmer@flintjournal.com • 810.766.6313

FLINT - A judge Thursday refused to dismiss charges against dozens of people arrested on charges of frequenting a drug house during a controversial raid on a Flint nightclub in March.

Flint District Judge Ramona M. Roberts said the arrests did not violate the free speech and free assembly rights of those who attended the rave party at Club What's Next and were not caught with illegal drugs.

The ruling was a setback for the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents 93 people cited under a city ordinance.

Roberts agreed to stay the cases while ACLU lawyers appeal her ruling to Genesee Circuit Court.

City attorneys lauded the decision, saying it will help keep promoters from holding drug-based events in the city.

The ACLU vowed to fight the cases all the way through the court system, if necessary.

"Unless this decision is reversed, the police will be able to arrest anyone in a licensed nightclub or any music concert whenever a stranger lights up a marijuana cigarette," said Ken Mogill, who leads a team of 10 ACLU attorneys working on the case.

The March 20 party at Club What's Next, 2511 W. Pasadena Ave., had been promoted for months on the Internet and drew people from southern Michigan and other states, police said.

Flint police and the Genesee County Sheriff's Department arrested 130 people after undercover officers and civilian operatives bought Ecstasy, LSD and a psychedelic mushroom inside the club, they said.

About 17 people, including the promoter, were arrested on felony drug charges. The other partygoers were arrested on misdemeanor drug possession charges or for frequenting a drug house, a maximum 90-day misdemeanor.

Officers seized Ecstasy pills, LSD, the date-rape drug GHB and Ketamine, an animal tranquilizer.

ACLU attorneys argued the arrests violated the partygoers' rights to free speech, free association and free expression. They also claimed the city ordinance was vague and overbroad.

Roberts said the ordinance specifically bars someone from knowingly going into a place where drugs are being sold or used, even if it's a licensed establishment.

The culture of dance parties or raves means that people who attend them can expect there will be drugs, the judge said.

Police saw open drug dealing and use and had probable cause to arrest and search partygoers, she said.

Roberts said she will hold a separate hearing on the officers' conduct during the raid. Some partygoers claim they were subjected to inappropriate strip searches or illegal body cavity searches.

The city denies that officers conducted body cavity searches, which require a search warrant.

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