“Kicked to the Curb”
On November 29,
2005 Josephine County courtroom #3 was packed with individuals named
in a lawsuit, filed by Club 71 owner Richard Larry Lacey, and those
who supported them. Lacey stood alone with only his lawyer Claud Ingram
for support in his cause as his case stood under a motion by the Sunny
Valley Group for dismissal.
Richard Larry Lacey's "pimp" ride infront
Josephine County courthouse.
Several months earlier Lacey
had filed suit against protestors of his nude dancing establishment
seeking monetary damages in the sum of $800,000.00 as his suit maintains
that the protestors conspired to bring him economic and mental duress.
Lacey asserts that the protestors have acted in violation of their first
amendment rights and alleges that they have blocked traffic and physically
intervened in the operations of his establishment.
The Sunny Valley Group is
represented by the American Family Association (AFA), a non-profit organization
that protects the rights of free speech, who, in response to Claud Ingram's
court filings submitted a petition for dismissal. In arguing their position
they cited numerous cases which debunked Lacey's assertions and Lacey's
attorney Ingram switched from a legal plea to an emotional one in what
became a defense of his client, who is the plaintiff in the case, and
the lawsuit. Ingram stressed that while the protestors are exercising
their 1st amendment rights, they are trampling on the Constitutional
rights of his client, as nude dancing is a protected form of entertainment
under the Oregon and U.S. Constitutions. Countering the claim that the
Sunny Valley Group was violating Lacey's rights the AFA maintained that,
constitutionally, Lacey did have a right to operate a nude dancing business,
but that individuals can not violate another’s Constitutional
rights, that is something only a government agency can do and that the
Sunny Valley Group's legitimacy in exercising their right to protest
When all arguments were
heard, an obviously attentive Judge Coon stated that he would have to
read the case law citings and make his determination on the dismissal
within 7 to 10 days.
On December 12, 2005 Judge
Coon ruled in favor of the Sunny Valley Group thereby dismissing this
attack against a group that is so obviously operating under its Constitutional
If Lacey’s case would
have been victorious it would have had serious implications in all first
amendment cases where an individual or a group peacefully demonstrates
against any business.
Judge Coon demonstrated
character during the proceedings and projected a mirror image of justice
in his ruling.