Monday, January 23, 2006

miss ann presses on despite setback

i mentioned last month that miss ann had filed a motion to move her case, in which the city is trying to shut down her private dominatrix business, into federal court. the city calls her business an "adult entertainment business" and alleges that operating this business out of her meridian-kessler home constitutes a zoning violation. miss ann had hoped that the zoning ordinance the city is using against her would be struck down on first amendment grounds:

6.Plaintiff's complaint alleges violations of the Revised Code of the Consolidated City and County of Marion County, Indiana (hereinafter, "Revised Code"). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges Defendant operates a business "in which the Defendant inflicts torture and/or humiliation and/or performs specified sexual activities on patrons of her home occupation" in violation of Section 731-220 of the Revised Code.
"Specified sexual activities" as used in Plaintiff's complaint is defined by Section 732-217(b) in relevant part as "masochism, erotic or sexually oriented torture, beating or the infliction of pain."

7.In the complaint, Plaintiff prays for a fine in the amount of $2,500.00 and that Defendant "be permanently enjoined from causing, suffering, or allowing the conduct of a business at the Real Estate in which torture, humiliation, or specified sexual activities are performed on patrons..."

8.It is Defendant's contention that the above referenced sections of the Revised Code constitute a prior restraint against Defendant's right to free expression in her business, and therefore, constitute a prima facie violation of Defendant's First Amendment rights. Furthermore, defendant contends terms such as "masochism" and "erotic or sexually oriented torture" are so vague and overly broad as to be violative of Defendant's First Amendment rights. Thus, the above captioned matter inherently involves federal questions.

but this was not meant to be. the district court challenged the move on jurisdictional grounds and gave miss ann until jan 20 to demonstrate why the case shouldn't be remanded back to marion county superior court. miss ann and her counsel were apparently unable to do so within the time frame allotted and eventually filed a motion to withdraw submission, moving the case back down to marion county superior court, where it will go forward.

now that the case is moving forward again, miss ann has posted some of the relevant court documents on her website. these include her response to the city's complaint as well as some documents pertaining to the discovery process. of particular interest are the interrogatories, in which she asks the city to define the terms masochism, erotic, sexually oriented, torture, beating, and infliction of pain (and to "state the authority or other source from which [the definition] is obtained"). these terms appear in the code that the city says were violated, but are not defined there.

considering that we're in the middle of a national debate about the definition of torture, to the extent that condolezza rice has been touring the globe trying (and generally failing) to convince the world that "the united states does not torture", i suspect that the city will have some trouble with these questions. if members of the federal government can claim with a straight face that what goes on at abu ghraib or guantanamo bay isn't torture, who's to say that what miss ann's doing is? none of miss ann's clients have ended up dead.

miss ann also held a press conference on friday, but the only news coverage i've found of that is this RTV6 story, which doesn't really have any new information other than that she "went to court to respond to the lawsuit."

update: i came this close to finishing this post with "maybe nuvo will have an article in this week's edition." and sure enough, here it is. yet another paul pogue article on the story, again more useful and informative than RTV6's coverage.


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