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No-trespass order poses legal concerns for citizens' rights

Grand Forks residents typically have the right to visit and congregate on public property without fear of being questioned or harassed by law enforcement. There are instances, however, where authorities can raise concerns and/or prohibit citizens from setting foot on specific public property sites. It is largely up to law enforcement officers and other authorities to use discretion when determining whether and why someone should be issued a no-trespass order. Consequently, there are also times when the validity of such orders must be questioned for their constitutionality.

An incident that occurred recently at a public pool in Fargo is prompting divide in public support for the actions of the authorities who were involved. Officials with the Fargo Park District reportedly banned a man from all city swimming pools after someone raised concerns over him taking photographs at the site. The director of the Fargo Park District explained that authorities have the right to issue no-trespass orders under a large number of circumstances, and that it is up to officers to decide whether and when such measures are appropriate.

Typically, no-trespass orders are issued in response to property owner complaints over some type of inappropriate conduct or wrongdoing. For instance, someone may be prohibited from entering a store if he or she has acted aggressively or is suspected of shoplifting. No-trespassing orders are legally enforceable for 90 days and can result in arrest.

In the case involving the man at the pool, he claimed that he was an artist after being confronted by another man about his presence at the pool. He was interviewed by detectives about the incident; however, the man was not charged with any related offense.

Source: Grand Forks Herald, “Banning man who took photos of children at a pool rare step,” Archie Ingersoll, July 15, 2015

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