A federal court battle over whether San Diego police illegally disrupted the lives and finances of local strippers during vice squad raids on the Cheetahs nightclub is destined to continue, a judge has held.
8105 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, Kearny Mesa
“Plaintiff Red Eye Jacks Sports Bar Inc., d.b.a. Cheetah’s Nightclub, operates a ‘nude entertainment business,’ as defined by San Diego Municipal Code,” wrote Judge M. James Lorenz in his July 7 denial of city attorney Jan Goldsmith’s motion to dismiss the case. “On July 14, 2013 and March 6, 2014, the vice unit of San Diego Police Department conducted inspections of Cheetah’s that lasted four and two and a half hours, respectively.” The club has “alleged that the inspections violated its constitutional rights guaranteed by the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments,” and “that as a result of the inspections they have suffered a loss of business.”
According to Red Eye Jack’s complaint, “As a result of the actions of the police department many entertainers have not returned to perform at Cheetah’s because of the emotional distress, anxiety, nervousness and fear.” Added the document, “By conducting raids with more than ten officers posted throughout the business, armed and wearing bullet-proof vests, Defendant has created a chilling effect on Plaintiff’s right to free speech by causing customers to cease patronizing the business and entertainers to stop working at the business.”
Goldsmith countered that the raids did not affect the rights of those lined up and inspected by the cops, and that in any case the statute of limitations on constitutional rights violations against the performers has run out. He also argued that police chief Shelly Zimmerman wasn’t in office at the time of the operations, a premise called “irrelevant” by the judge, “because the suit against Zimmerman represents claims against the Chief Police of San Diego as an entity, not Defendant Zimmerman as an individual.”
In addition, Lorenz noted, the Cheetahs owners “allege that during the inspections at issue, San Diego Police officers entered into the private women’s dressing rooms and into the private office of the manager.” The next step in the case is an “early neutral evaluation conference” between the city and and the club owner before Magistrate Ruben Brooks on September 9.
A California state judge was not as kind to the strip club, ruling July 10 that Cheetahs should lose its business license because it broke the city’s six-foot “no touch’ rule, banning lap dancing and other forms of illegal fondling.