In a ruling that bodes ill for the city of Madison's determination to penalize participants in this year's World Naked Bike Ride, a municipal judge has dismissed the first such case to be adjudicated.
James Old, filling in at Madison Municipal Court, last Friday tossed the citation against Cesilee Dean, one of 10 people cited for disorderly conduct in the June 19 event. The other cases remain pending.
Dean's attorney, Dan Bach, a former deputy attorney general, stated in a court hearing that "in Wisconsin [and] the city of Madison, there are no laws specifically prohibiting public nudity." He argued that Dean's going topless with body paint on her breasts did not constitute disorderly conduct and questioned the citation she received on due process and First Amendment grounds.
Olds granted Bach's motion to dismiss without ruling on these broader issues, saying, "I don't see anything in this record that leads me to believe the city would prevail" on its disorderly conduct charge. (For an audio recording of the hearing, see the related files at top right.)
As Isthmus reported, Dean lodged a complaint against the arresting officer, Rene Gonzalez, alleging he refused to let her put on a shirt while detaining her in his squad. Madison Police have delayed looking into Dean's complaint, pending the resolution of her citation. (Done routinely to weed out complaints filed over justified enforcement actions, this creates an incentive for officers who know they've crossed a line to issue tickets or make arrests.)
Now that the ticket is dismissed, Dean and her boyfriend, Jason Shaw, want her complaint taken up. "He had no right to grab her," says Shaw. "The judge agreed this was without merit."
Dean is wisely "not optimistic" that the MPD's internal probe will find the officer at fault. But she is looking forward to next year's ride.