Portland to pay $175K in suit over panhandling limits

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PORTLAND — The failed 2013 ordinance to prevent panhandlers from using median strips will cost the city $175,000 in legal fees.

The Nov. 4 settlement order was issued in the U.S. District Court of Maine, where the ordinance was first ruled unconstitutional for violating the First Amendment rights of plaintiffs Michael Cutting, Alison Prior, and Wells Staley Mays.

The city appealed the February 2014 decision by Judge George Singal to the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, where it was upheld in September.

The money will go to the legal firm of Goodwin Procter, which has offices in Boston and worked with the Maine chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union to represent the plaintiffs.

Last month, the city was ordered to pay $56,500 to plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against an ordinance restricting access by protesters of the Planned Parenthood of Northern New England offices at 443 Congress St.

That ordinance was voided in July 2014 after a similar one in Massachusetts was struck down in a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision.