City authorizes plaza artists settlement

Attorneys for four Plaza artists, who recently won a temporary injunction in federal court against the city’s ban on selling visual art, have offered to settle that case for $52,000 in attorneys’ fees and $2,500 in “nominal damages” for each plaintiff.

Commissioners directed City Attorney Ron Brown to offer “no more than” $25,000 to the attorneys and $10,000 to the plaintiffs”.

The lawsuit against the city was brought by caricaturist Bruce K. Bates, sculptor and painter Richard Chiles, photographer Elena Hecht, and painter Kate Merrick.

Monday, May 11, 2009, United States District Judge Marcia Morales Howard temporarily lifted the ban on “visual artists” selling their works in the Plaza de la Constitución.

The city does not dispute the artist’s assertion that their works constitute protected expression or that the area from which they are restricted constitutes a traditional public forum.

The commission previously decided the federal court ruling voids the Plaza ordinance, and a workshop is scheduled before its July 13 meeting to discuss framing a new ordinance.

Photo credit: Historic City News photographer Kerry McGuire

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