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First Amendment – Overbreadth – Injunction – Prostitution-Related Activity

City of Milwaukee v. Tanya M. Bean, et al., 2001 WI App 258, PFR filed 11/8/01
For Bean: Jerome F. Buting, Pamela S. Moorshead

Issue1: Whether prostitution activities in the area encompassed by the injunction were shown sufficiently to constitute a nuisance.


¶13. Although it is true, as the appellants argue, that the infusion of prostitution in the affected areas can, on one level at least, be addressed by the enforcement of the laws making that and related activity illegal, the difficulties and dangers inherent in that route make injunctive relief appropriate because enforcement of the injunction can be done by police officers in uniform with adequate means of self-protection. Additionally, although the individual appellants are but a small part of the problem, the same is true of all the persons prostituting themselves in the affected areas. A rule that prohibited injunctive relief against a person acting independently but whose independent acts when combined with the independent acts of others created a public nuisance, merely because the person was acting independently, would render this type of public nuisance immune to effective redress. Accordingly, the trial court had the authority to issue an injunction to abate the appellants’ role in what the undisputed evidentiary submissions prove is a public nuisance.

Issue2: Whether the injunction was reasonably related to abatement of the nuisance it addressed.

Holding: The prohibition against loitering in doorways, and at bus stops and pay phones “gives fair notice and is easy to obey.” ¶16. However, the ban on being within 25 feet of any other person subject to the injunction while engaged in proscribed activities is struck as unconstitutionally vague. Id. The prohibition against engaging passersby in conversation is overbroad and trenches on the right of association; it is to be modified on remand “to ensure that it does not encompass appellants’ relatives and friends[.]” ¶18. But this restriction is valid as to strangers, ¶¶19-20, excepting legitimate efforts to hail cabs, ¶20 n. 4.

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