Court Rejects City’s Request in Topless Protester Case

Q Boyer
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Florida's 5th District Court of Appeals has rejected a last-ditch effort by the city of Daytona Beach to continue its case against top-free protester Elizabeth Book.

In a single-sentence order that included no discussion of the case or of the merits of the city’s motion for rehearing, the court stated simply that “the petitioner’s motion for rehearing, rehearing en banc or entry of a written opinion, filed Aug. 14, is denied.”

Book’s attorney Lawrence Walters told XBIZ that his firm was “thrilled with the decision, both in terms of what it means for our client and what it means for free speech rights.

“The city has fought hard to censor Liz Book, and this decision spells the end of a long battle to preserve basic 1st Amendment rights to political expression,” Walters said.

Asked whether he thought this decision would put an end to the city’s attempts to stifle Book’s topless protests, or if the city might try to alter its public nudity ordinance to prevent Book from protesting in the future, Walters said he doubted that the city could eliminate the exemption concerning legitimate protests without rendering its ordinance unconstitutional.

While the city might be done trying to prosecute Book, their business with the top-free protestor is not over. In August, Book filed a notice of claim against the city, and that claim still needs to be satisfied.

“The city is still on the hook for a substantial claim by Liz for multiple arrests and malicious prosecution against her, lasting years of her life through multiple courts,” Walters said.

In addition to filing the notice of claim against the city, in August Walters also requested that the court impose sanctions against the city for its “patent disregard for the basic requirements of the rehearing procedure.” The court apparently decided not to sanction the city, as there was no mention of sanctions in the order denying the city’s request for rehearing.