Burning Man announced today they won their appeal. Burners were left scratching their heads, without Propaganda Czar Will Chase there to put the usual spin on things. What does it all mean? Who’s suing whom? And will this affect ticket prices?
Here is the full text of the ruling. And here’s a summary in one paragraph:
Basically, Pershing County wanted Burning Man to pay for their police presence. BMOrg said no, we pay the Feds, we pay Washoe. Pershing said pay up, and we don’t like nudity around children. Burning Man said “fuck you! free speech! We demand nudity!” and sued Pershing. Pershing responded by making life very difficult for Burners, partnering with the Feds for an unprecedented police crackdown. Sniffer dogs were brought in from the Mexican border. This was the beginning of “we’ll pull you over for the slightest thing and the dogs will search your car”. Burners were understandably pissed. Some of the more vocal DPW crew formed a group called RIOT and threatened to strike. BMOrg decided that maybe they should just pay the extra hundred grand or so to the cops. They agreed a deal, and both parties took it to the judge. The judge went apeshit and threw it out of court, telling the prosecutor to go back to law school. It seemed like it was all sorted it out, but it obviously wasn’t because of this appeal. The one judge sounds a little loco, and his Boss Judges in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals seem to agree.
This has nothing to do with Burning Man’s other matter, objecting to the Live Entertainment Tax. So no effect on ticket prices. They will probably keep going up, and new things like Vehicle Passes and handling fees on Vehicle passes will be introduced to drive revenues further.
Here’s our previous commentary on what’s been going on in the case, in reverse chronological order. The headlines kind of speak for themselves:
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned another ruling by the same conservative federal judge in Nevada, criticizing his unorthodox handling of a Burning Man lawsuit and taking the extraordinary step of ordering him off a case for the fifth time in two years.
U.S District Judge Robert Clive Jones had no legal basis to reject a deal lawyers for Burning Man and Pershing County reached in 2013 to settle a dispute over security costs and First Amendment rights at the annual counter-culture celebration in the desert about 100 miles north of Reno, the appellate court ruled on Wednesday.
Jones — who recently shifted to senior status on the Reno bench — inappropriately mocked the lawyers during a hearing, accused both sides of malpractice, described one lawyer’s comments as “mealy-mouthed,” suggested another should return to law school and “noted his own laughter on the record,” the three-judge panel said.
“We have in the past expressed concern over the district’s court’s handling of a number of cases that have reached this court, and we unfortunately must do so again here,” Chief Circuit Judge Sidney Thomas wrote in a unanimous four-page memo issued Wednesday in San Francisco.
Thomas said in granting the Burning Man lawyers’ appeal that he was remanding the case back to district court and instructing Nevada’s chief U.S. district judge to assign the case to a different judge. He listed six cases in which the 9th Circuit reluctantly has issued similar orders involving Jones since 2012 — five in just the last two years.