One for the Books: Ruling Overturned

BACKGROUND: Richard Kreimer, a homeless man in Morristown, N.J., sued the small town for harassment and won $230,000. The court ruled that it was unconstitutional for the Morristown library to evict Kreimer or other homeless people because of body odor or odd behavior.

That ruling set off a furor among libraries across the country, triggering a debate over the rights of the homeless versus those of other patrons.

UPDATE: Kreimer has finally lost a round in his legal battles. Last week, a federal appeals court overturned the lower court ruling.

The latest ruling held that patrons with "offensive body odor" or annoying behavior would create an unreasonable interference with the rights of others to use a library.

In a brief statement after the decision was announced, Kreimer said librarians are not "trained policemen" and can use the ruling to evict anyone they don't like. He and his court-appointed lawyers indicated that they would eventually appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The legal setback, however, does not jeopardize Kreimer's cash awards--$150,000 from insurers representing the town and $80,000 from the library's insurance carrier--since they have already been paid.

In recent years, Kreimer, 42, has slept in nearby woods and used the library to develop his legal skills. He has said he hopes to undergo special counseling to enable him to return to mainstream society.

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