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July 29, 2003 05:57am
Limiting Adult Entertainment Hours in Arizona
Source: Tucson Citizen
by: A.J. Flick

(TUSCON, AZ) -- A new ruling upholding an Arizona law limiting the hours of adult entertainment businesses shouldn't change the way those businesses operate, lawyers here say.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday agreed with the Arizona Court of Appeals that a state law requiring sexually oriented businesses to close between 1 and 8 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 1 a.m. and noon Sundays does not violate First Amendment rights of free speech.

The plaintiffs - L.J. Concepts Inc. and the Center for Fair Public Policy - argued that adult entertainment businesses were being unfairly targeted. A three-judge panel on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco disagreed.

"The State may choose to treat adult businesses differently from other businesses so long as it does so for the right reasons, and it has done that here," Judge Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain wrote. "It need do no more."

In a footnote, O'Scannlain cited a city ordinance limiting pawnshop hours and a state law that bans liquor sales during certain hours as examples of how limitations affect other businesses.

Local attorneys said the ruling will have no effect on such businesses as the Empress Adult Book & Video Store and Theater, 3832 E. Speedway Blvd.

Three years ago, the Empress, which had been open previously to 4 a.m. with live nude dancers, challenged the 1998 state law limiting its hours.

In November, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that the law applied to live entertainment but not printed materials, film and video. So the Empress may stay open late as long as it doesn't offer nude dancing after hours.

"This does not overturn the Arizona Court of Appeals decision in the Empress Theater case," affirmed Deputy City Attorney Michael House.

"Until the Arizona Supreme Court decides otherwise, the rule right now is that the hours of operations statute applies only to the live entertainment, the nude dancing."

Empress owner Daniel Osco was unavailable for comment yesterday.

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