Public Nuisance


I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…

Missouri is the Show Me state. So when a woman there became a victim of repeated and violent domestic abuse, Missouri showed her…the door. She was kicked out of her home, kicked out of her city, and ordered not to come back for six months.

That’s the law in Maplewood: tell the cops your boyfriend beat you up, stabbed you, or shot you more than twice in six months, and he may or may not go to jail, but you will definitely be on the streets.

Worse, that’s the law (or there are laws similar to that) in communities across the United States. They’re called nuisance abatement ordinances, and are intended to allow cities to declare any number of conditions, from trash violations to repeated violations of the criminal law (such as assault), a public nuisance that can then be legally rectified.

Until ten years ago, that was the law in my own community, Boulder, Colorado. In 2007 the nuisance abatement ordinance was changed to make an exception for victims of crime, such as domestic violence.

The American Civil Liberties Union has a project to go after other communities like Maplewood where that exception has not been written into the law. One by one, they’re filing lawsuits, and one by one, cities are settling and changing the law.

Its latest lawsuit is in Maplewood. That one will likely settle, too. It will settle a few thousand dollars on the woman whose loved one left her scarred with stab wounds, whose community left her scarred with the gut fear of ever calling the police and rendered homeless again.


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3 Responses to Public Nuisance

  1. charlie hoffman 19 May 2017 at 11:57 pm #

    So, she was a nuisance that had committed trash violations or repeated violations of the criminal law (such as assault). ?.?

    To really get this story I need to (know) what her violations were?

    • Philip Rosmarin 20 May 2017 at 12:45 am #

      Sorry I wasn’t more clear. She wasn’t charged with anything, but because there were repeated charges against her boyfriend, for assault crimes committed against her, her “situation” was declared a nuisance, and she was evicted. Laws like that literally view battered partners as attractive nuisances who need to be removed from neighborhoods for the good of those folks too fine to cultivate such dysfunctional relationships.

  2. Claudia Brahm 8 May 2017 at 1:36 pm #


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