Councilor: ACLU settlement won't deter panhandling proposal

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The city of Indianapolis reached a settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union over enforcement of its panhandling ordinance, but that won't deter a City-County Council effort to pass a more restrictive law, a councilor said Wednesday morning.

“Ultimately, I see that this helps more than hinders,” Republican City-County Councilor Jeff Miller said of the ACLU settlement, in which the city agreed to drop citations against four people who were holding signs outside Circle Centre last August. The agreement was filed Friday and reported by The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Police told them to stop their activity, which was legal under current ordinances and protected by the First Amendment, ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk said.

The city can keep enforcing an ordinance against panhandlers who beg from people in their cars, Falk said, because the existing ordinance applies to all forms of solicitation in roadways and 50 feet from intersections. He said the city misapplied the code when it tried to crack down on people whose signs were aimed at downtown pedestrians.

Miller and Democrat Vop Osili have been working for the past year on a proposal that would apply to begging from pedestrians, and Miller believes it will stand muster in court because it's similar to the existing ordinance on soliciting in roads.

“It’s focused on public safety," Miller said.

Under the proposal, all forms of solicitation, including holding signs, shaking cups and performing for tips, would be banned within 50 feet of financial transactions, as well as pedestrian intersections. Using that criteria, it would affect a large chunk of downtown.

The ordinance would apply to ATMs, banks, parking-meter pay boxes and outdoor cafes.

Miller thinks a court would uphold the new ordinance because it doesn’t try to regulate a form of speech.

“It doesn’t matter how you solicit,” Miller said. “If you’re soliciting, you need to be a safe distance from a financial transaction.”

A proposal was pending before a council committee last year, but Miller withdrew it in January to allow time for more feedback from stakeholders and to start from scratch with cleaner language. He said Osili will sponsor the new proposal, which could be introduced to the council as early as May.

“There were a lot of First Amendment problems with the ordinance that was being considered late last year,” Falk said. “We were prepared to sue if it had passed.”

Miller said he sought but didn't receive feedback from the ACLU.

Falk said one specific problem with the last proposal is that it would have banned solicitations anywhere in the city between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. Miller said the time-of-day language won’t be in the next proposal.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.