NATURIST ACTION COMMITTEE
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DATE: December 18, 2007
SUBJECT: NAC files as amicus in Ohio topfree appeal
TO: All Naturists and other interested individuals
The Naturist Action Committee has filed a legal memorandum with the Ohio Supreme Court
in an appeal by a woman who was arrested and convicted for being topfree in a city park. NAC is acting as an amicus curiae, or "friend of the court," and its document supports the Court's acceptance of jurisdiction.
The woman, Lorien D. Bourne, is represented in her appeal by the Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which has filed a separate memorandum in support of jurisdiction. The Ohio Supreme Court is not
obligated to accept the case, so the documents at this stage are intended to persuade the Court to recognize the importance of the case, and to take it under review.
WHAT IS NAC ASKING YOU TO DO?
This is a NAC Advisory. You are not being asked to take any action. Please watch for
further Advisories and Updates from NAC on this issue.
For more information, including details of the case and the complete texts of the briefs of NAC and the ACLU, visit the Web site of the Naturist Action Committee: www.naturistaction.org . Click on "Alerts, Advisories & Updates" to find this NAC Advisory and links to additional information. The NAC Web site presents an expanded discussion of the Bourne appeal, including the further information on its importance to naturists.
NAC BECOMES INVOLVED WHEN ISSUES AFFECT NATURISTS. PLEASE HELP NAC!
Naturist Action Committee is a volunteer nonprofit organization that exists to advance and protect the rights of naturists throughout North America. To do its job, NAC relies entirely on the voluntary generosity of supporters
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A PICNIC IN THE PARK
After having received a ticket
in 2005 for being topfree on a bike trail in Bowling Green, Ohio, Lorien Bourne organized a potluck picnic in City Park on September 16, 2006, to raise awareness of sexism and double standards. Some of the men and women who
attended the event joined Ms. Bourne in removing their shirts on that warm late-summer afternoon.
Ohio state law does not criminalize a woman's bare breasts. However, responding to a complaint, a Bowling Green police
officer insisted that the women at the picnic put on shirts. The officer made no such demand of the men. When the women refused the selective order to cover up, the officer gave them citations for disorderly conduct.
Bourne contested her charge in municipal court and was found guilty. She was assessed a fine and court costs. She appealed to the State Court of Appeals for the Sixth District of Ohio. Since she was a student at Bowling Green
State University at the time, BGSU Student Legal Services represented Ms. Bourne in the appeal.
LOSS IN THE APPEAL COURT SETS A LOCAL PRECEDENT
In October, 2007, Lorien Bourne lost
her appeal in the State District Court of Appeals, setting an unfortunate local legal precedent throughout 8 counties in northern Ohio. The appellate decision is not binding elsewhere, but it can be persuasive.
ACLU-Ohio agreed to represent Ms. Bourne in a further appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.
WHY IS THIS A NATURIST ISSUE?
Some nudist organizations have suggested, in past instances,
that topfree cases are not "true nudity," and thus do not merit attention. In contrast, NAC views topfree issues as important matters of incremental body acceptance. Body acceptance is at the heart of naturist
beliefs. The Naturist Action Committee and the Naturist Education Foundation have a history of supporting topfree cases (e.g., Angelina Carreras, Evangeline Godron, Moravia Four).
The Bourne case is especially important
to naturists because of the way in which the authorities have chosen to enforce an imagined prohibition against selected body parts. The police charged Lorien Bourne with disorderly conduct, maintaining that her breasts were
somehow "physically offensive," and the court of appeals endorsed that interpretation. For obvious reasons, NAC challenges such a dangerous misuse of the law.
FRIEND OF THE COURT
Amicus curiae is a legal phrase that translates from Latin to mean, literally, friend of the court. The term refers to an individual or organization that is not a party to a legal action, but which provides pertinent information or legal points of view to the court for consideration in a specific case before it.
Lorien Bourne is not a naturist. Her arguments and those of the ACLU are focused on constitutional issues of protected expression and equal treatment under the law. NAC supports those positions, but the interests of
naturists are not served best by limiting the appeal to consideration of those points alone.
Unique among those with an expressed interest in this appeal, NAC brings specific and detailed knowledge of Ohio legislative
history that speaks directly to issues that are central to this case. Time after time, the Ohio legislature has been presented with opportunities to criminalize the public exposure of female breasts, and it has declined to do
NAC has retained the services of Ohio attorney Andrew Bowers for the amicus effort. Bowers also serves as an Ohio lobbyist registered in NAC's name. Lobbying expenses for Ohio are shared with NAC by the American Association for Nude Recreation and its regional affiliate, AANR-Midwest. NAC acknowledges and appreciates that partnership. The legal services for this case are separate and involve only NAC.
The Naturist Action Committee thanks NAC Area Representative Bob Neinast for his important role in the coordination of NAC's amicus position in this appeal.
WHAT'S AT STAKE?
If the Ohio Supreme Court refuses to accept the case, the horrible local precedent endorsed by the Sixth District Court of Appeals will be allowed to stand in the eight counties over which that court has
If the Ohio Supreme Court accepts the appeal and ultimately rules for Ms. Bourne, the case may be remanded for reconsideration, with or withing including specific instructions to reverse. Alternatively,
the Court may choose to reverse the opinion of the lower court, summarily.
If the Ohio Supreme Court accepts the appeal and ultimately rules against Ms. Bourne, the enforcement notion that a woman's breasts can be
characterized to be "physically offensive" as a matter of disorderly conduct will become statewide legal precedent.
WHAT'S ARE THE CHANCES?
The Ohio Supreme Court accepts only a small percentage of the cases appealed to it.
Given the option, appellate courts typically decide cases on the basis of proper or improper application of the law, rather than on the basis of the Constitutionality of the law. ACLU-Ohio has presented four
Constitutional arguments. The Naturist Action Committee has presented one Constitutional argument and one argument
that criminalizing topfree conduct by labeling it "a condition that is physically offensive to persons" defies the legislative intent and perverts the plain meaning of the disorderly conduct statute.
It is very difficult to assess the probability of a favorable outcome in the Ohio Supreme Court.
READ THE DOCUMENTS
Notice of Appeal (ACLU - 12/10/07)
Memorandum in Support of Jurisdiction- Appellant (ACLU - 12/10/07)
Memorandum in Support of Jurisdiction Amicus Curiae (NAC - 12/10/07)
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