Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts
PLEASANT GAP, Pa. — As an American, you have the right to mow your lawn in the nude, a state superior court has ruled.
Charlie Stitzer, 63, won’t let bashfulness get in the way of donning a thong or completely dropping his trousers in his backyard on a hot summer night. It is a matter of comfort. But for one neighbor, Stitzer’s naked lolling was too much. The neighbor contacted authorities in June 2000, and Stitzer was arrested for indecent exposure. He was found guilty seven months later and sentenced to two years of probation.
But after months of legal wrangling, three superior court judges overturned the conviction in a unanimous decision last week, ruling that the state’s indecent exposure statute did not apply to Stitzer because the unmarried retiree was not exposing himself in a public place or drawing attention to himself. The judges also said that the backyard was private and that the complaining neighbor lived too far away, nearly 65 yards.
“This was a matter of civil liberties,” Stitzer’s lawyer, Andrew Shubin, told Court TV. “If someone had a problem with [Stitzer], they could avert their eyes or give him a call and complain. But there was absolutely no need for the government to get involved in this.” Assistant District Attorney Lance Marshall said he won’t appeal the ruling, but noted that he had the option to prosecute Stitzer in the future for a lesser disorderly conduct charge.