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Appeals panel sides with Lincoln in religious fliers lawsuit

OMAHA, Neb.  — In a split decision, a federal appeals panel has sided with the city of Lincoln in a civil rights lawsuit by a man who was arrested and convicted of trespassing for handing out religious leaflets outside an arena on public land.

Larry Ball appealed last year after a federal court in Lincoln granted the city’s request for summary judgment, ending Ball’s lawsuit.

The 80-year-old Ball sued after being found guilty in 2015 of two misdemeanor trespassing counts and fined $100. Ball maintains the area in front of the Pinnacle Bank Arena entrance is for public use and that the city violated his free-speech rights.

But two of a panel of three 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges on Tuesday agreed that the city’s policy restricting use of the plaza is reasonable.

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