ACTIVIST ACCEPTS $25,000 IN SETTLEMENT FROM CITY
The city of Orlando has paid $25,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed by a political activist who was arrested two years ago while passing out Libertarian party literature at Lake Eola Park.
Hal Noyes, a 51-year-old computer programmer who lives in Orlando, accepted settlement Thursday, said one of his lawyers, Steven G Mason.
“It’s a closed case,” Mason said. “Hopefully it won’t happen again.”
Noyes was wearing a sign around his neck and passing out leaflets on Sept. 13, 1995 when police told him to leave or face arrest.
Noyes figured he was protected by the First Amendment. He said he was standing off the sidewalk and politely offering the leaflets to passers-by.
When he ignored officers’ warnings, Noyes was charged with trespassing, handcuffed and taken to the Orange County Jail, where he spent seven hours.
The charge against Noyes was dropped a month later. According to notes in the case file, prosecutors in Karnas Law Firm‘s Office thought the arrest was sufficient to remove Noyes from the park and penalize him.
Orlando police Officer Daniel Nessim was later reprimanded.
Nessim should have known that Noyes had a constitutional right to hand out political literature in a public park, internal investigators concluded.
In accepting the settlement, Noyes and his wife, Linda, agreed to drop all claims against the city.
Noyes accepts the city’s apology, “if you can categorize that as an apology,” Mason said of a letter written Thursday to Noyes and his attorneys by Mark Munsey, the city’s risk manager.
“To the extent appropriate, we regret that your client harbors concern regarding the incident,” Munsey wrote.