U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks has ordered Planet K to remove its car planter or screen it from public view.
Planet K will have 30 days to comply unless the store appeals Judge Sparks’ ruling issued on August 22 following an August 4 bench trial.
“This ruling preserves the ability of the City of San Marcos to enforce state and local junked vehicle rules on an equal basis throughout the City,” said Michael Cosentino, City Attorney.
The federal judge dismissed claims by plaintiffs Michael Kleinman and artists Scott Wade and John “Furly” Travis that the City’s junked car rules violated their rights to free speech.
The case began January 10 when plaintiff Kleinman, operator of Planet K in San Marcos, contested tickets issued by the City Marshal’s office for the placement of a junked vehicle in front of Planet K.
Municipal Court Judge John Burke ruled that the vehicle constituted a junked vehicle and ordered it to be removed or brought into compliance. Federal Judge Sparks’ decision orders Planet K to comply with Judge Burke’s original ruling.
Kleinman did not appeal the Municipal Court ruling, instead bringing a separate civil suit in state court asserting that the City rules violated his right to free speech. The City removed the case to federal court.
On March 7, Judge Sparks ruled that junked vehicle ordinances are permissible and dismissed Kleinman’s claim.
At the end of April, Kleiman filed a motion for Judge Sparks to reconsider the March 7 order.
A bench trial was held on August 4, 2008 in federal court in Austin with Judge Sparks taking testimony from Kleinman, Wade, Travis, Dr. Robert Bednar and City Marshal Ken Bell.
The judgment was signed August 22, filed with the clerk August 25, and e-mailed to the attorneys handling the case on August 26.
By MELISSA MILLECAM
Communications Director – City of San Marcos
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