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Friend of the Court
By Lisa Kemler
Friend of the Court columns.
In Commonwealth v. Hicks, 264 Va. 48, 563 S.E.2d 674
(2002), the Virginia Supreme Court held that a city housing authority’s
trespass policy was overly broad and infringed upon First Amendment
protections, and that the policy could be challenged in a criminal
The Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) owns
and operates a housing development for low-income residents in the city
of Richmond known as Whitcomb Court. The RRHA enacted a policy
prohibiting the use of the streets by non-residents, their guests, or
other persons who cannot establish a legitimate reason for being there.
Enforcement is left to the discretion of the local police
without any requirement that they act on a complaint lodged by RRHA
officials. “The neighborhood is not some isolated dead-end terminus
lying at the outskirts of the city. There are no gates or checkpoints
and the streets either intersect with or flow directly and seamlessly
into other city streets. Ev
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