Miss Ann fires back on constitutional grounds
Paul F. P. Pogue
Melyssa Donaghy, also known as Miss Ann, and her lawyer, Mark Small, outside environmental court Friday
Melyssa Donaghy, also known as Miss Ann, made her first legal defenses last week, opposing the city's $2,500 fine levied against her for practicing her dominance-and-submission-based business in her Meridian-Kessler home.
Donaghy and her lawyer, Mark Small, filed a request in environmental court on Jan. 20 asking for the release of all documents and evidence in the case. The city has 33 days to answer. Donaghy also presented, in writing, the legal and constitutional bases of her defense.
In addition to the request for evidence, the interrogatory called for specific and legal definitions of "masochism," "erotic," "sexually oriented," "torture," "beating" and "infliction of pain" - all terms used in the city's complaint, which Small maintains are too vague to be enforced.
"You can't limit someone's freedom through a statute or law that's excessively vague," Small said. "They state that she inflicted torture and humiliation and engaged in sexual acts such as masochism and the erotic infliction of pain and humiliation. Those are not defined in the zoning ordinance. If you look at the definitions of torture that are defined in law, such as in the Geneva Conventions, I do not believe that any definition of torture by those treaties applies to my client."
Small maintains that the zoning code does not apply to Donaghy's work. "Zoning code delineates the categories of permissible businesses in residences. One of those is tutoring and education," Small said. "My client teaches those who consult her for guidance and education."
Small believes he and Donaghy have a strong case on constitutional grounds. "When an ordinance is in question that limits someone's freedoms, it's viewed very narrowly," Small said. "When a statute is called into question on First Amendment grounds, the court is to interpret it as broadly as possible in favor of free expression."
"This is an instance of the government limiting a person's free expression," Donaghy said. "And in this situation, I want to make it clear that they have effectively put me out of work. For two months I have not had employment. It's been very, very difficult for me."
Donaghy turned the filing into a press event, inviting reporters and distributing copies of the paperwork. "Since the mayor started this whole thing in the press, I felt that it should stay there," Donaghy said. "You may recall that I first saw the city's lawsuit against me in the hands of a reporter, and conveniently that reporter was there with a camera team when the sheriffs arrived at my door. And the next day there was a press conference the mayor held downtown with regard to my businesses ... Dominance and submission permeates all aspects of life.
"Even this situation I'm in. The government is our submissive! However, they act as if they're the dominant. We the people are the dominants; the politicians are submissive to us. They're supposed to be, but they don't like that. The dominants have been off partying and playing and having a good time and the submissives got out of control."
The next step in the case is a pre-trial conference Feb. 6.