YOUNGSTOWN Loitering case ends in no-contest plea

The defendant's lawyer had argued that the law she was accused of violating is unconstitutional.
YOUNGSTOWN -- A 35-year-old city woman faces up to 30 days in jail after pleading no contest in municipal court to a loitering charge that her lawyer had argued was unconstitutional.
The plea by Diana M. Fisher of West Chalmers Avenue is not an admission of guilt but states that she will offer no defense. It is handled as a guilty plea by the court.
Judge Elizabeth A. Kobly ordered a presentence investigation and scheduled sentencing for March 1. The judge said she would review Fisher's past, including recent participation in a treatment program. She did not specify the type of program.
About this case: Fisher was accused of loitering for prostitution on the city's South Side on Aug. 26. Police reports show that Officer Dan Mikus had seen Fisher and another woman waving down cars near Oakhill and Cleveland avenues.
Fisher's attorney, James J. Connelly of Northeast Ohio Legal Services, had argued for a dismissal, saying that the city's loitering ordinance is unconstitutional because it is vague and overbroad.
The ordinance prohibits loitering for prostitution in a public place and allows an officer to consider if the alleged loiterer is a known prostitute, engages a passer-by in conversation, or stops or attempts to stop motor vehicles by hailing or waving.
Mikus refers to Fisher as a "known hooker" in his report. She has three convictions for loitering for prostitution but none for soliciting or for prostitution.
Judge Kobly had denied the defense request for dismissal, saying that appellate courts had ruled in similar cases that such laws are constitutional.
Appeal undecided: Connelly said the plea does not mean Fisher has given up her right to appeal the judge's decision on the law's constitutionality. He said he hasn't decided whether he will appeal.
The loitering violation is a fourth-degree misdemeanor punishable by a maximum 30 days in jail and $250 fine.

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