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City stopped from enforcing adult-business law

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A federal judge has granted a preliminary injunction to an adult bookstore in Indianapolis, temporarily stopping the city from enforcing a 2002 ordinance that regulates adult businesses.

In the six-year-old case of Annex Books , et al. v. City of Indianapolis, Ind., No. 1:03-CV-918, U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker in the Southern District's Indianapolis Division issued the latest ruling Dec. 1 in a case asking whether local rules violate the bookstore's constitutional free-speech rights.

She had upheld the ordinance in 2004, and it went to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard arguments in 2005 but didn't issue a decision on the case until Sept. 3 this year. The appellate court affirmed Judge Barker's judgment regarding the licensing procedures set out in the ordinance but reversed on whether any substantive First Amendment issues exist. The appellate court remanded the case for an evidentiary hearing, which Judge Barker conducted Nov. 25.

In her 15-page order, Judge Barker restrained the city from enforcing the ordinance against Annex Books until a final decision is made on the First Amendment issue.

She wrote that in order to meet its burden set out by the 7th Circuit, the city must show that adult entertainment businesses without facilities for on-premises viewing create the same secondary effects as establishments providing those services and that the revised ordinance requiring plaintiffs to close between midnight and 10 a.m. has "the purpose and effect of suppressing secondary effects, while leaving the quantity and accessibility of speech substantially intact."

Judge Barker found that the city's evidence to date is likely insufficient to meet that burden and justify the ordinance.

"Considering the significant harm to Plaintiffs' free speech rights if the injunction is not issued, we find that the narrow segment of decreased crime during enforcement of the revised ordinance that the City has been able to demonstrate at this stage in the proceedings is insufficient to tip the balance in its favor," she wrote. "Accordingly, we find that, at this stage in the proceedings, Plaintiffs have demonstrated at least some likelihood of success on the merits."

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