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Anaheim : City Is Ordered to Pay Krishnas’ Legal Costs

In another blow for the City of Anaheim in its legal battle with Hare Krishna members, a federal judge has ruled that the city must pay the Krishnas’ legal expenses in their challenge of a local ordinance. The city’s cost will be more than $78,000.

Chief U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real also ruled Monday that up to six Krishna members could solicit donations and distribute literature outside Anaheim Stadium, in areas including the parking lots.

Anaheim City Atty. Jack White said Tuesday that the city had not decided whether to appeal Real’s decision. Deputy City Atty. Charles Redd called the decision disappointing and said the city had lost on every issue it argued before the federal judge.

David Liberman, an attorney for the Krishnas, said: “It’s 105%, it’s 110% victory. Decisions just don’t come this good. We got absolutely everything we sought.”

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What the Laguna Beach-based International Society of Krishna Consciousness had been seeking was the right to solicit donations and distribute literature outside the stadium, which the city attempted to prevent in 1982 by denying the group renewal of a permit. The group filed suit and the issue has been in litigation since.

Last August, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the city’s ordinance regulating charitable solicitations was unconstitutional. The appeals court also ruled that the stadium parking lot was a public forum.

Redd said the city began to prohibit Krishna members from soliciting stadium patrons following complaints of harassment and intimidation.

Still pending is a ruling on whether the city must pay about $30,000 in legal fees for the appeals costs. Also still pending is a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court challenging a city ordinance enacted last November to replace the one ruled unconstitutional.

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