Las Vegas Sun

October 17, 2017

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Editorial: Is city acting legally?

T he reputation of Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman has not been built just on his vision for the streets, landscaping and architecture of downtown. He's also known for wanting to beautify the people there.

And so we have the Downtown Initiative, a program inspired by City Hall and carried out by Metro Police. The goal is to drive out people who in unspoken and unwritten sorts of ways meet the city's definition of undesirable.

For years now a test case has been badly needed, because such a policy is clearly wrong. It obviously raises questions about whether laws are being enforced equally.

An opportunity for the District Court to decide the constitutionality of the Downtown Initiative arose when a man arrested and imprisoned for jaywalking challenged his treatment. Acting as his own attorney, Michael Dulin took his case all the way to the Nevada Supreme Court, which last year decided it had merit.

The Supreme Court sent the case back to the District Court, saying it appeared the police officer who arrested Dulin was following an unconstitutional city policy rather than his own discretion. The court specifically ordered a hearing to determine the legality of Dulin's arrest.

In May the case fell to District Judge Donald Mosley, who, astonishingly, announced that he had not read the Supreme Court's decision. Before denying Dulin's request for release, Mosley ordered that there be no mention of the Downtown Initiative.

How a District Court judge can get away with ignoring the Supreme Court is beyond us, and beyond the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada . On July 11 the group filed a brief with the Supreme Court, opposing Mosley's action.

The 50-year-old Dulin remains imprisoned, largely because when he was arrested for jaywalking, it was learned that his background included felony arrests.

Because Mosley failed to schedule a hearing, as ordered, no legal ruling about whether this arrest was constitutional is being contemplated . We hope the Supreme Court responds quickly to the ACLU's brief, and this time follows through to ensure this question is answered.