Last Vestige of North Carolina Sodomy Law ‘Unconstitutional’
July 14, 2003
By Newscenter Staff
Charlotte, North Carolina—The last vestige of North
Carolina’s sodomy law has been declared unconstitutional, but the ruling may
have little effect on other cases in the state. After the US Supreme Court
struck down sodomy laws, police in Charlotte, North Carolina said they would
follow the court directive, but continue to lay sodomy charges under the
state’s anti-prostitution laws.
The law against “Soliciting a Crime Against Nature” was routinely used
against gay men cruising in parks. The law stated that any communication in a
public place for sex was illegal, even if that sex were to occur in a private
Friday, Mecklenburg District Court Judge Nate Proctor declared that the law
is “invalid on its face” and unconstitutional. The case involved a
Charlotte man who was charged with discussing oral sex with a
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer in a public park.
Proctor’s ruling came after hearing arguments by the defendant’s
attorney, Ray Warren of Charlotte, that the law crime against nature law was
unconstitutional in light of the United Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence
v. Texas. After finding the law unconstitutional, Proctor dismissed
the charges against the defendant.
Warren is a Charlotte defense attorney who came out as a gay man while
serving as a Superior Court judge.
The case is the first court test of North Carolina’s Crime Against Nature
law since the Texas decision in Lawrence v. Texas.
Judge Proctor, in his ruling said the act of soliciting sodomy is an issue
of free speech and personal expression.
While the decision is not binding on other state trial judges, it is
expected that it will be cited in similar cases.
Assistant District Attorney Brian Prewitt said the case likely will be
appealed to the state Supreme Court.
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