Wednesday, December 09, 2009

After winning legal challenge to panhandling law,
he's back in jail -- for panhandling

David Timothy Booher found himself in a familiar place on Monday for a familiar reason.

Booher, 52, wound up in the Marion County Jail after being arrested by Ocala police for panhandling.

It was his 24th arrest in Marion County since July 2003, according to Sheriff's Office records, and Booher's latest visit to the jail comes with some irony.

Half of those arrests, including the one on Monday, have been for violating local or state anti-panhandling laws, a situation that made Booher the poster child for an effort to enforce the rights of beggars locally.

Two years ago Booher was the plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging Marion County's panhandling ordinance.

Enacted in 2006, the local law required beggars to submit an application and a $100 fee to the county administrator. On the application, they had to spell out the hours during which they would panhandle, the location where they would do it and a permanent address, which could be a homeless shelter.

Booher applied for a permit but was turned down because of his multiple arrests.

He sued the county, alleging that the County Commission had violated his constitutional rights to beg by passing the law and by singling out panhandlers.

A federal judge eventually barred the county from enforcing the ordinance and signaled that Booher, were the case to proceed to court, stood a strong chance of winning.

The county repealed the law in March 2008 and reached a $10,000 settlement with Booher.

Reda the Ocala Star-Banner report here. And see previous posts here and here.

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