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Novelty shop sues city over closing
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Sunselt Novelties remains closed after more than a month, but the company is now asking a judge to hold the city of Hinesville responsible for lost revenue and to uphold a 2006 decision that declared a Georgia obscenities statute unconstitutional.
Court documents filed earlier this month by attorney Cary Wiggins on behalf of the company request a temporary restraining order and seeks damages from Hinesville. Sunset Novelties also operates stores in Savannah.
District Court Judge B. Avant Edenfield is reviewing the case, which claims the manager of the adult novelty store was threatened with arrest and prosecution in late August
for violating O.C.G.A. 16-12-80 by displaying and advertising “sexual devices.”
In his motion, Wiggins notes that the statute was overturned by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals three years ago because it violated the First Amendment regarding advertising. Sunset is asking the court to prevent the city from enforcing the statute.
Wiggins also tells the court he attempted to contact city officials several times to discuss the issue and also informed them of the statute’s invalidity.
The invalidity of the statute is central to Sunset Novelties’ case; however, Liberty County’s state court still lists violation of O.C.G.A. 16-12-80 as a misdemeanor offense.
City Manager Billy Edwards said he has not reviewed the store’s court documents and deferred to the city’s attorney for comment regarding the case. He said Sunset Novelties was operating in Hinesville under a general business license and not under an adult entertainment business license.
Wiggins confirmed the license type, adding that Sunset Novelties operates as a “percentage business” meaning only a portion of its store is dedicated to the types of items considered by the city to be in violation of the statute.
City Attorney Linnie Darden was unavailable for comment as of press time.
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