Club Hires Lawyer to Fight Obscenity Charges

By Anderson, R. Michael | The Florida Times Union, January 11, 1997 | Go to article overview

Club Hires Lawyer to Fight Obscenity Charges


Anderson, R. Michael, The Florida Times Union


The owners of Shades nightclub in Orange Park have hired

prominent civil rights attorney William J. Sheppard to fight

obscenity charges stemming from a police raid at the club last

month.

Court appearances are scheduled Tuesday for the owners, Haney

M. Sweda and Bernard H. Smith, club manager Grady B. Durrance,

and 13 dancers.

Sweda said Monday that Sheppard had been hired to defend the

club and its dancers against charges ranging from lewd and

lascivious behavior to offering for prostitution.

Undercover officers from the Clay County Sheriff's Office and

the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office raided the Wells Road club on

Dec. 10 and hauled 12 dancers away in handcuffs primarily on

charges of lewd and lascivious behavior.

A 13th dancer was arrested a week later and charged with

violating the adult entertainment ordinance and offering for

prostitution.

But Sweda insists he and his employees did not break any laws.

He said their constitutional rights were violated by police.

"We're not paying any fines," he said Monday. "We didn't do

anything illegal."

Whether a judge believes that will be up to Sheppard, a

Jacksonville attorney who has defended Death Row inmates,

topless-bar owners, drug dealers and teenagers trying to get

abortions without their parents' consent.

Sheppard, who is responsible for major reforms in Florida

prisons and jails, first gained major media attention in the

mid-1970s when he represented inmates in the Duval County jail

in a class action suit that ultimately forced Jacksonville city

officials to build a new jail to end overcrowding.

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