The Arizona Daily Star Tucson, Tuesday, May 20,1986
By Pam Izakowitz
A federal judge has dismissed criminal charges against two members of the communal Rainbow Family and ruled that requiring special permits for groups wishing to express their views in a National forest is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Bilby said the U.S. Forest Service has "every right to regulate large groups" on government land, but that the regulations must apply to all large groups not just some.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Negatu Molla said yesterday he would pass the information on to the U.S. Forest Service, which will have to change the regulation. He said an appeal will be up to the appellate section of the4 U.S. Attorney's Office, but expressed doubts that one would be filed.
Bilby's order, filed Friday, was based on a motion to dismiss criminal charges against two members of the Rainbow Family, Gideon L. Israel and Patrick A. Czerniak. They were cited Nov. 27 for participating in "a gathering of ten or more people not authorized by a special permit" at Cochise Stronghold, southeast of Tucson in the Coronado National Forest.
Israel and Czerniak faced maximum penalties of six months in jail, a $500 fine, or both.
About 100 members of the Rainbow Family gathered in Cochise Stronghold in November. Three members were cited for violating the regulation which says groups of ten or more that gather on Forest Service land "for the purpose of expression or exchange of views or judgments" must get a special use permit.
The third person paid a $50 fine under protest. Israel and Czerniak fought the citation.
In March, the group tried to gather again in Cochise Stronghold, but was barred by Cochise County sheriff's deputies because it failed to get a permit. Several people were arrested on disorderly conduct or drug charges.
Bilby offered the group two alternative sites that could be used without a permit, and the group went to High Creek, north of Wilcox.
In its motion to dismiss the charges, the Rainbow Family said the Forest Service regulation was discriminatory and violated their First Amendment rights. Had they been camping, picnicking, hiking or fishing, they would not have been cited, the motion said.
"Such a regulation impermissibly singles out those who wish to gather in order to exercise their First Amendment rights. The court finds that this regulation is, therefore, unconstitutional."
In a telephone interview yesterday, Israel, of Tucson, said he was pleased by the ruling.
The group organized in 1970 and "is spiritually oriented and ecologically minded," said Barry Adams, a family member from Montana.