G&S Assists Small Business Owner in Achieving Repeal of Unconstitutional Frederick City Ordinance

Gordon & Simmons was retained in October by a Montgomery County entrepreneur who was unable to obtain a permit to open a small business in the City of Frederick.  In addition to retail sales, Victoria Frank, a small business owner, proposed to perform psychic readings at a planned shop within the city limits, but was not able to obtain a permit.  A city ordinance made it a civil infraction to perform readings within the city for a fee.  Gordon & Simmons reached out to the city government on behalf of its client and requested the City reassess the constitutionality of City Code Ordinance §15-19 – an archaic statute that prohibited receiving a fee for services relating to “clairvoyance, mind reading, palmistry, phrenology, divination or other [psychical] means or pretense of fortunetelling” within the Frederick City limits.  The ordinance raised First Amendment issues and, in fact, based upon initial research by Shawn Cavenee and Chaz Remus, the firm quickly learned that a similar ban in Montgomery County had been ruled unconstitutional by the Court of Appeals in 2010 in its ruling in the case of Nefedro v. Montgomery County, Maryland, et al.  On November 20, 2014, the Mayor and Board of Alderman of Frederick voted unanimously in favor of repealing the statute, thereby eliminating the restrictions on Gordon & Simmons’ client and all entrepreneurs who wish to conduct similar business in the City of Frederick.