The Champion

June 2003 , Page 48 

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Friend of the Court

By Lisa Kemler

Read more 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 proceeding.  

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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