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  1. #1

    Default Can a Person Be Legally Banned from a Public Place

    My question involves civil rights in the State of: WI

    I saw something happen at our public library that seemed rather questionable. A librarian went to a man who was using an internet computer and called him aside and said she needed to speak with him. They went to a place that was well within earshot of me, so I got to hear what was discussed. She told him that the library had received a complaint from somebody about him accusing him of "stalking", and that as a result, he was now banned from the public library for one year. Of course, he protested this (rather loudly) and then the police got called on him. I don't know what happened after that, but it got me wondering about the legality of it.

    If a facility such as a public library is a publicly funded facility, how could a single person running that facility ban a member of the public from having access to it based on a mere accusation? I could understand a person having the police called on them and an investigation done to determine whether to arrest them or file charges. That way of going about it would make sense. But banning someone from the library based on an accusation alone would seem no different from banning someone from a public park, or even sections of town for the same reason. If a place is public, then how can any member of the public be banned from it?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Can a Person Be Legally Banned from a Public Place

    If the man doesn't agree with his ban he is free to take the library to court.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Can a Person Be Legally Banned from a Public Place

    Quote Quoting Novicelegal
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    If a facility such as a public library is a publicly funded facility, how could a single person running that facility ban a member of the public from having access to it based on a mere accusation?
    I don't really understand the "how" form of the question, but I have to ask what makes you believe that "a single person" made this decision and that the decision was "based on a mere accusation"?


    Quote Quoting Novicelegal
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    If a place is public, then how can any member of the public be banned from it?
    Again, I don't really understand the "how" form of the question. Nor do I understand the apparent premise of your questions: that persons have the right to unfettered access to all places deemed "public" merely because those places are public.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Can a Person Be Legally Banned from a Public Place

    Quote Quoting Novicelegal
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    If a place is public, then how can any member of the public be banned from it?
    The public does not have a right to access all public places regardless of circumstances. The government may ban persons from government controlled places for a variety of reasons. One of those would be for the safety of others visiting that space. So if the library has determined that this person may be a risk to another patron it may legally bar him from the library. You don't know that it was simply the librarian that made that call. It might have been, for example, the library board or the chief executive in charge of the libraries that made the decision. You also don't know what information the library personnel had about this person — you don't know the details of the complaint nor do you know what other information the library may have gathered. In any event, if he disagrees with that decision he'll have rights to appeal the ban.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Can a Person Be Legally Banned from a Public Place

    Quote Quoting Taxing Matters
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    The public does not have a right to access all public places regardless of circumstances. The government may ban persons from government controlled places for a variety of reasons. One of those would be for the safety of others visiting that space. So if the library has determined that this person may be a risk to another patron it may legally bar him from the library. You don't know that it was simply the librarian that made that call. It might have been, for example, the library board or the chief executive in charge of the libraries that made the decision. You also don't know what information the library personnel had about this person you don't know the details of the complaint nor do you know what other information the library may have gathered. In any event, if he disagrees with that decision he'll have rights to appeal the ban.
    Well, as I said, I went by what I heard the library worker say to the guy. She didn't say anything about a decision being reached by anyone else, or that they had any additional evidence other than the accusation being made (and the person making the accusation wasn't named). I'm just going by what she said to him.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Can a Person Be Legally Banned from a Public Place

    Just because she didn't say to him that the decision was reached by the library board, or by the town council, or by her boss(es) and that she was delegated to tell him, doesn't mean that it was her decision or that she made it on her own initiative. Just because she didn't give him a breakdown of the evidence doesn't mean they didn't have any. OF COURSE she didn't name the person making the accusation. She's not stupid (one would imagine). She doesn't want the guy who was being banned to go and harass the person or persons who made the complaint.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Can a Person Be Legally Banned from a Public Place

    Quote Quoting cbg
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    Just because she didn't say to him that the decision was reached by the library board, or by the town council, or by her boss(es) and that she was delegated to tell him, doesn't mean that it was her decision or that she made it on her own initiative. Just because she didn't give him a breakdown of the evidence doesn't mean they didn't have any. OF COURSE she didn't name the person making the accusation. She's not stupid (one would imagine). She doesn't want the guy who was being banned to go and harass the person or persons who made the complaint.
    I can understand why the accuser wouldn't be named, although it leaves the accused without recourse. As a bystander, it leaves me to wonder if I could also be banned simply because someone decides to make an accusation, even if it may have been based on a misunderstanding that would never be resolved because the person remains anonymous. I've been involved in misunderstandings that led to accusations before. Not at the library, but at home by a neighbor who kept calling the cops on me. At least the cops required evidence my neighbor didn't have, so nothing ended up coming out of that situation and the neighbor ended up moving.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Can a Person Be Legally Banned from a Public Place

    Quote Quoting Novicelegal
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    I can understand why the accuser wouldn't be named, although it leaves the accused without recourse.
    It doesn't leave the accused without recourse. He simply has to appeal with higherups at the library or sue.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Can a Person Be Legally Banned from a Public Place

    You are assuming that what you saw is the entire story. However, you don't know what came before it or what came after. You don't even know if the man in question is guilty of what he was accused of. What if he was? Does the person who made the accusation have any rights? Banning someone from a town building is not something that is generally done lightly or without discussion of all the higher up's involved. I think it is quite unlikely that, as you evidently believe, the accuser walked up to the librarian, made a complaint, and she instantly made the decision all on her own to ban him and did so without consult to anyone over her.

    If someone makes an accusation about you and as a result you are banned, you can come back here and we'll tell you what to do next. Until then, though, there's really not much left to say other than that the man in question is free to pursue the issue if he so chooses.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Can a Person Be Legally Banned from a Public Place

    Quote Quoting Novicelegal
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    Well, as I said, I went by what I heard the library worker say to the guy. She didn't say anything about a decision being reached by anyone else, or that they had any additional evidence other than the accusation being made (and the person making the accusation wasn't named). I'm just going by what she said to him.
    Did the librarian expressly say, "this was a decision that I, and I alone, made, and I made this decision based only on the allegation that was made" (or words to that effect)?

    Or are you just making that assumption because she didn't announce that "this decision was made by vote of the library board after considering a substantial amount of evidence"?

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