Homeless man wins legal victory in lawsuit challenging Henrico panhandling ban

Posted at 9:42 PM, Feb 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-24 23:30:22-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- A Henrico homeless man who has challenged a county law that bans begging for money alongside streets and roads in Henrico won a major legal victory Tuesday.

Robert Reynolds’s lawsuit challenging the ordinance was originally dismissed in district court, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit vacated and remanded that decision Tuesday arguing that the county needs to provide more evidence about why panhandling is a safety issue.

A district court judge will once again consider Reynolds's lawsuit.

Reynolds’s attorney, Brian Burgess with Goodwin Procter LLP, tried to contact Reynolds for us, but was unable to locate him by the deadline for this story.


However, Burgess wrote the following in an email:

“The case raises important constitutional issues, and we are very pleased that the Fourth Circuit correctly recognized that the government does not have a blank check to restrict speech in the name of public safety.  We look forward to working with Mr. Reynolds to prove his claims at trial and to demonstrate that the scope of the County’s speech restriction is unjustified.”

Henrico County’s Board of Supervisors discussed the court’s decision with the county attorney in a closed meeting Tuesday night.

CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit tried to ask board members for their reaction to the decision, but they told her they could not comment because of pending litigation.

Hipolit was able to speak with the county attorney, Joseph Rapisarda, by phone.

Rapisarda said the county will have to sit down and review its strategy on the matter.