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Store Issues Flyer Warning of Habitual Shoplifter


The petitioner of the case is Edgar Paul, et al. The respondent of the case is Edward Charles Davis, III.

A New York Criminal Lawyer said he original case was heard and argued on the fourth of November in 1975. The original verdict of the case was given on the 23rd of March in 1976. A rehearing of the case was denied in May of 1976.

The original case involves a photograph of the respondent that was being used in a flyer that had pictures of active shoplifters. This photograph was used after the respondent had been convicted of shoplifting near Louisville, Kentucky. The shoplifting (petit larceny) charge was dismissed and the respondent then brought this case up against the petitioner police chiefs that issued the flyers. He states that this was a violation of his constitutional rights. The original district court that heard the case granted a dismissal motion from the petitioners.

Flyer in Question

The flyer that the respondent is questioning was distributed to businesses throughout the Louisville area. The City of Louisville Police Department and the Chiefs of Jefferson County printed and distributed the flyer as a way to keep all of their officers advised about suspected shoplifting activity in the area. The flyer included the name and a photograph of individuals that had been arrested for shoplifting during 1971 and 1972. The flyer was 5 pages long and had photos arranged in alphabetical order. The respondent’s photo appeared in the middle of page two. There were two photos of the respondent along with his name, Edward Charles Davis III.

Davis III was included in the flyer because he had been arrested in Louisville on the fourteenth of June on charges of shoplifting. A Brooklyn Criminal Lawyer said he pleaded not guilty to the charge and the case was filed to be reinstated and left the charge withstanding. When the flyer was printed, the shoplifting charge against the respondent had not been resolved. Shortly after the release of the flyer, the shoplifting charges against the respondent were dismissed.

The respondent worked as a photographer for a Louisville newspaper. When his supervisor saw the flyer he called the respondent into his office to hear his side of the story. The respondent was not fired, but warned that he should not find himself in this type of situation again.

District Court Reasoning

The district court reasoned that the petitioners distributing the flyer did not take away any of the respondents property and liberty rights that are guaranteed by the fourteenth amendment. Additionally, the reputation of a person alone cannot implicate the liberty or property that is offered procedural protection under the amendment.

Court Decision

In this particular case, there is an issue of giving police officials the ability to act on their own initiative to condemn innocent people of being criminals. Without any type of constitutional restraints in place for this type of oppressive behavior, no person could feel secure knowing that they will not be singled out for this type of punishment.

For these reasons, the court is reversing the original decision made by the district court. We feel that the respondent’s rights were violated in the fact that he was never actually convicted of the crime as portrayed on the flyer that was distributed throughout the city.

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