Even Panhandlers Have Lawyers

Panhandling (search) is getting to be more than just a nuisance in some cities. San Francisco’s aggressive panhandlers are said to be responsible for a major drop in tourism.

In New York, panhandling on subways was outlawed because beggars often cornered their targets with menacing stares and an occasional screwdriver. So, many cities have experimented with laws and ordinances that would ban aggressive panhandling — something we used to call a shakedown. But even panhandlers have lawyers. And those lawyers recently chalked up a victory in Chicago, where the courts decided that a city ordinance against panhandling violated the beggars’ civil rights.

A judge ordered City Hall to pay out cash to 3,000 beggars who were arrested over an 11-year period. The panhandlers will split a pot of $99,000 between them. And the lawyers? They will split an award of $375,000, almost four times as much as that awarded to all their clients combined.

And that’s the Asman Observer.