GREENWOOD LAKE, N.Y., April 8, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- In response to a lawsuit filed by local artist Melanie Gold, the Village of Greenwood Lake has agreed to repeal what Ms. Gold contended was an unconstitutional "Art Ban" the Village enacted on November 1, 2010, and the Village has agreed that it will not attempt to pass a future law, or enact or enforce a present law, that violates the First Amendment.
As part of the settlement, the Village has also agreed to rescind both violations of the Village's sign ordinance that were issued to a building owner as a result of the art installation, and the Village has publically stated that it appreciates Ms. Gold's professional efforts to beautify the Village.
The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleged that the "Art Ban" was introduced by the local government in order to thwart a community art installation on private property that Ms. Gold had underway. The suit asserted that the Art Ban was in direct violation of Ms. Gold's First Amendment right to freedom of expression under the U.S. and New York State Constitutions.
Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P., one of the nation's leading trial law firms, represented Ms. Gold in the matter on a pro bono basis. The case came to the firm's attention through Volunteer Lawyers For The Arts.
"We are extremely pleased with this Settlement, which reaffirms the fundamental American right to communicate and exchange ideas without fear of government reprisal," said David Leichtman, Partner in the New York office of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. "We hope this will send a greater message that artists have Constitutional rights upon which no local government has the right to infringe. We see this not just as a defense of the First Amendment, but as a victory for artists' rights everywhere."
"I am extremely pleased that the Village has acknowledged, in effect, that it should not have attempted to stifle this project, which was intended only to beautify a neighborhood and bring together a community," said Ms. Gold. "To hold back this project would have called into question the freedom of art under the First Amendment."
The Complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on February 15, 2011. On February 22, 2011, the Court entered a Temporary Restraining Order prohibiting the removal of the artwork. The Stipulation of Settlement and Dismissal with Prejudice was approved by the Honorable Cathy Seibel on April 6, 2011.
About Greenwood Lake Greetings
The "Greenwood Lake Greetings" display, created by the Greenwood Lake Mural Project Team and curated by teacher and theater director Melanie Gold, is an outdoor art exhibit in the Village of Greenwood Lake. It features digitally printed oversized (approximately six feet tall by six feet wide) reproductions of works by local artists; Louis Delsarte's "Greenwood Lake", Gad Nusinov's "Fall" and a graphically designed panel by Ms. Gold dedicating the project to its supporters. Spring and winter scenes are planned to complete the set. The Project is located at 673 Jersey Avenue in the Village.
Ms. Gold, conceived, and produced this exhibit to provide "a warm and inviting welcome to those entering Greenwood Lake from neighboring New Jersey."
This project is made possible, in part, with funds from Orange County Tourism, the County of Orange, and contributions from local businesses and supporters.
About Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P.
Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. (www.rkmc.com) is one of the top trial firms in the country. The firm's clients include numerous Fortune 500 corporations, emerging markets companies, entrepreneurs, and individuals as both plaintiffs and defendants. Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. is frequently engaged in high-stakes, complex litigation with significant bottom-line implications for their clients, and the business lawyers handle complex transactions in a variety of market segments. The firm has more than 250 lawyers located in Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York and Naples (FL).
Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. has been honored with recognition from The American Lawyer, which ranked the firm no. 6 in the country in the 2009 Pro Bono Survey, and twice named the firm to the A-List (2007 and 2004). The firm has regularly received a top ranking for litigation from Chambers USA. In 2009, the firm was included on the National Law Journal's "The Midsize Hotlist" and chosen as a "Go-To Law Firm" by Corporate Counsel.
About Volunteer Lawyers For The Arts, Inc.
Since 1969, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (vlany.org) has been the leading provider of educational and legal services, advocacy and mediation to the arts community. As the first arts-related legal aid organization, VLA is the model for similar organizations around the world.
VLA is supported in part with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and through generous gifts from law firms, corporations, foundations and individuals.
SOURCE Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P.