Last edited: November 23, 2003

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 place.

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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