Medford’s exclusion ordinance sparks lawsuit

Medford, Ore. — Earlier this month the Medford City Council voted to expand an existing exclusion ordinance to the downtown area. It gives police the authority to ban people from the zone for a certain period of time if they do something illegal. But a Medford couple is calling it unconstitutional, and their attorney is taking the city to court.

“I’m asking that the court declare the ordinance unconstitutional and unenforceable,” attorney, Bill Mansfield tells NBC5 News.

The city’s exclusion ordinance has been in place since 2011. It gives police the authority to ban people from public property for a certain period of time if they commit a crime.

But an amendment to that ordinance in May to include the downtown area, has one attorney taking a closer look.

“It went too far when it was initially enacted,” Mansfield says, “I just wan’t aware of it until a couple months ago when I learned it was being amended.”

Mansfield filed the lawsuit on behalf of his clients, Gary and Patricia Pound. Mansfield says it’s unconstitutional for a person to be banished from a public area before they’ve been convicted of a crime.

“The police officers always have a right and a duty to remove you at the time that you are committing a wrong,” Mansfield says, ” and also the courts have the power to punish you for that. I’m not arguing against that, I’m arguing against banishing them from the free speech area of the city.”

Local business owners, don’t agree.

“I think that it should be expected that the downtown area be crime free,” Charlotte Cook says.

The way the ordinance is written, a person issued an exclusion is still able to pass through an exclusion zone for work, church,  or other public business. They are also able to appeal their exclusion, and during that appeal process they aren’t excluded.

The city isn’t commenting on the suit, but it has 30 days to respond.

“I expect them to contest it strongly,” Mansfield says.

Since the amendment on May 4th, 8 people have been excluded, 5 of which were within the exclusion area downtown.

Since its inception in November 2011, 834 exclusions have been issued.

  • 2011: 1 exclusion
  • 2012: 109 exclusions
  • 2013: 203 exclusions
  • 2014: 268 exclusions
  • 2015: 83 exclusions
  • 2016: 112 exclusions
  • 2017: 58 exclusions

According to Medford police, a majority of exclusions are given in Hawthorne, Alba, and Railroad parks.

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