Men who fought panhandling law each get $6,500 settlement

GRAND RAPIDS (AP) -- Two men who successfully fought the state's panhandling law after being arrested in Grand Rapids in 2011 for panhandling will each get $6,500 as part of a $48,000 settlement with the city.

The Grand Rapids Press reports the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented James Speet and Ernest Sims, gets the remaining $35,000 toward attorney fees.

In 2012, a federal judge in Michigan ruled that the law banning panhandling in public places violated First Amendment protections for free speech and the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause. The decision was upheld by a federal appeals panel.

City attorney Catherine Mish confirmed terms of the recently approved settlement. She called it a difficult case. That's in part since the city had to defend a law it didn't put on the books.

Published: Tue, Oct 29, 2013