ANNAPOLIS – The Maryland Court of Appeals has lifted an injunction that kept an Annapolis bookstore from operating peep shows.
The high court on Wednesday ordered a new hearing for Annapolis Road Limited (ARL), which had challenged Anne Arundel County restrictions on adult bookstores and film arcades.
The appeals court did not rule on the constitutionality of the restrictions, but said the intermediate Court of Special Appeals overstepped its authority when it upheld the injunction in 1995.
Neither the lawyer for ARL nor the owners of the bookstore in the 1600 block of Annapolis Road could be reached to comment on their plans in light of the ruling.
But Anne Arundel Deputy County Attorney David A. Plymyer said he was confident the county will be able to have the peep show permanently closed when the case is reheard. Plymyer said the high court was being “hypertechnical” by ordering the new hearing.
“There’s a long legal story here,” Plymyer said.
The battle between the county and ARL has been going on since at least 1984, according to court documents.
It came to a head in July 1991 when the county suspended the issuance of Class Y business licenses, which it had earlier required for adult businesses. County law made it a misdemeanor to run such businesses without a license.
ARL said in 1993 that it had tried to obtain the proper licenses to operate peep shows but it was “thwarted” by the county’s moratorium on new Class Y licenses. It claimed that the county’s regulatory “schemes” had left “no existing adult business in Anne Arundel County,” according to court records.
ARL was back in court in 1995 after the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled similar adult-business licensing laws in Prince George’s and Harford counties were unconstitutional.
The Court of Special Appeals agreed that Anne Arundel County’s Class Y licensing law was unconstitutional under the 4th Circuit ruling.
But it then said the county could still keep ARL out of the peep show business because unrelated zoning ordinances limit such businesses to highway commercial zones and heavy industrial zones.
The Court of Appeals ruled that the intermediate appeals court was wrong to uphold the injunction “for reasons not decided by the trial judge and apparently not raised below,” in Anne Arundel Circuit Court.
The high court ordered the Court of Special Appeals to send the case back to trial in Anne Arundel Circuit Court “for a full hearing on the constitutionality of the ordinances and whether an injunction should be issued.”