Federal Judge Kristine Baker today dismissed complaints by abortion protesters who’d been arrested, but acquitted on charges of disorderly conduct for refusing to turn down a loudspeaker during a protest outside an abortion clinic in Little Rock in September 2012.
Ronald Duhe and Mark Holick, both of Springfield, Mo., and Spirit One Christian Center had sued the city, Police Lt. Sidney Allen and the county over arrests for violation of city ordinance.
By the city’s account, their use of sound amplification equipment was permissible, but nearby businesses, including an optometrist, complained that it was too loud to conduct business. Police say they asked them to turn down the speakers, but they refused and so they were arrested and booked at the county jail. The charges against them were ultimately dismissed in a municipal court trial, where they judge said the offense hadn’t been proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Their lawsuit followed.
The plaintiffs contend they were arrested without warning and police hadn’t taken sufficient steps, such as a decibel measuring device, to see if the sound level was unreasonable. Police said they allowed the group to demonstrate over two days without a permit as long as they complied with instructions but they said plaintiffs resisted, including instructions about blocking traffic.
Today, the judge granted motions for summary judgments in favor of the city, Lt. Allen and the county. She said she’d provide an explanatory order later.