District Judge Cecilia Altonaga Strikes Down Noise Ordinance

, Daily Business Review

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Cecilia Altonaga
Cecilia Altonaga

In a case stemming from a father's arrest at his daughter's quinceanera party, a federal judge struck down South Miami's noise ordinance as unconstitutional.

Julio Sanchez was arrested in 2009 after an anonymous caller made a noise complaint. Sanchez complied with an officer's request to turn down the music.

Later, another officer responded to a second complaint and demanded the party be terminated. When Sanchez asked if the party could be taken inside from the patio, Officer Junior Vigil refused and arrested the father when he asked for the officer's name and badge number.

A February 2011 lawsuit challenging the noise ordinance was filed on behalf of Sanchez by Coral Gables attorney Ray Taseff.

He argued the law was overbroad and vague because it did not give adequate notice as to exactly what was noise level was illegal because it simply made it illegal to "annoy" another.

U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga in Miami decision striking down the ordinance in November spurred a settlement with South Miami agreeing to pay Sanchez $90,000.

"The police ruined my daughter's party and robbed my family of the special memories that a quince party creates," Sanchez said. "I fought to protect our rights to make sure that no other family is treated the way the city treated mine."

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