Settlement Reached in Grand Rapids Panhandling Lawsuit

Posted at 9:58 PM, Oct 09, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-09 22:38:27-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The two men who successfully challenged Michigan’s panhandling law have now reached a settlement of their lawsuit against Grand Rapids.

A $48,000 settlement agreement with James Speet and Ernest Sims was approved by the Grand Rapids City Commission Tuesday, according to Commissioner Walt Gutowski.

Speet and Sims filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in 2012 after they were arrested for panhandling in Grand Rapids multiple times.  The filed lawsuits against both the city and the state, and the two men were represented by the ACLU.

In August, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of Speet and Sims in their lawsuit against the state, saying that panhandling was constitutionally protected free speech.  In that decision, the Michigan’s anti-begging law, which had stood since 1929, was also struck down.