- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 7, 2002

RICHMOND (AP) A pro-life demonstrator arrested for violating a Lynchburg permit ordinance that later was ruled unconstitutional cannot collect damages from the city, a divided federal appeals panel ruled yesterday.
The 2-1 ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a decision by U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon.
John Daniel Reyes was a student at Liberty University when he was arrested after a Nov. 10, 1997, pro-life demonstration at E.C. Glass High School. Mr. Reyes and the Rev. Flip Benham, director of the pro-life group Operation Rescue, were convicted of trespassing after failing to obtain a demonstration permit from the city.
Mr. Reyes claimed in a lawsuit that the permit ordinance was unconstitutional, and that he was entitled to damages because the law violated his First Amendment right to free expression.
Judge Moon declared the law unconstitutional, but only because it set no timetable for the chief of police to decide whether to issue a permit. However, the judge found that Mr. Reyes suffered no harm because the ordinance was repealed on March 10, 1998, three days before Mr. Reyes planned to participate in another pro-life demonstration.
Judge H. Emory Widener Jr. wrote in the majority opinion that "the ordinance repealed on March 10th could not chill speech to occur on March 13th." Judge Clyde H. Hamilton joined in the majority opinion.
Judge M. Blane Michael noted in a dissenting opinion that 3 months elapsed from the time Mr. Reyes was indicted until the ordinance was repealed.
"Clearly, Reyes is alleging not only that the fear of criminal prosecution will deter him from participating in the protest planned for March 13, 1998, but also that the pending criminal prosecution has already deterred and chilled him from speaking," Judge Michael wrote.

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