State v. M.S.
Noell Tin successfully challenged the City of Charlotte’s “dancehall” ordinance as being unconstitutionally overbroad and vague, resulting in the dismissal of criminal charges against M.S. Noell’s client was arrested and charged with operating a dancehall without a permit after he hosted a Sweet 16 birthday party. Under the city ordinance, every establishment that (1) has music; (2) has space available for dancing or permits dancing to occur (whether dancing actually takes place or not); and (3) allows admission by payment of a direct or indirect charge, would need a permit. At trial, Noell showed that the city ordinance’s definition of “dancehall” was too vague, and broad enough to include museums, exercise facilities, movie theaters, yoga studios and indoor playgrounds. Noell also established that the ordinance was being enforced in a discriminatory manner — such that nearly 87% of those persons charged with operating a “dancehall” without a permit by the arresting officer involved were African-American, and that 93% of those charged were a racial minority.