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Constitutional? Forced church amplified sound system?

Los Angeles, CA |

Forced church amplified sound system into my home. US Constitution says the government should not establish a religion. Well LAPD and the city attorney have established a religion in my home by allowing an "exemption" in the law for church noise.

Federal lawsuit for forced religion? For establishment of religion?

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Attorney answers 3

Best Answer
Posted

Nope, that is not the right concept to argue. Your argument centers on nuisance.

R. Jason de Groot, Esq.,

Posted

No, this isn;t the theory that is going to potentially be useful to you. Nothing about your noise complaint requires you to believe or practice any religion.

What you have is a noise complaint. You will need to solve that through the local authorities -- police and City Councilperson can work with you to narrow the exemption, or by recourse to a nuisance lawsuit that tests the grant of the exemption. For a sound nuisance suit you will need skilled counsel.

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Asker

Posted

Problem is no attorney will take this kind of case on contingency. What do you do when money is an issue? Take the case yourself in pro per?

Christine C McCall

Christine C McCall

Posted

Not all nuisance cases include a sound damages claim. You would need to pay for legal services to obtain injunctive relief or a restraining order against the offender. Attorneys will not take on contingency a case that is not likely to be successful. You may want to accept that informed assessment if you have queried multiple attorneys. It may be time to conclude that the legal system will not provide a remedy in your situation. If you have no funds for legal recourse, consider continuing to press your municipal officials for assistance. In City Council constituent services, persistence can make all the difference.

Asker

Posted

For 7 years my ex-councilmember would do nothing. I now have a new one that might. If he doesn't I will take action myself.

Asker

Posted

Council District 1. Action myself means taking the case to court myself.

Posted

In essence you are complaining because the government has done nothing to prevent the church from amplifying the noise that reaches your home. They have done nothing to sponsor this noise. They have done nothing to violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment. You haven't said what the noise is. I suspect it is amplified instrumental music, probably familiar hymns. You would have better success filing to enjoin it as a nuisance, if in fact it is a nuisance.

Asker

Posted

It is amplified sound system with tape recorded off key bells and church music 6 or more times a day every day. it is a nuisance. But I think it still allows the government to establish a religion in my home by giving them an "exemption". Maybe a TRO is the way to go.

Asker

Posted

I am trying to get the law changed to remove the word "except" from the law. No exemptions!

Thomas J. Wagner

Thomas J. Wagner

Posted

Your wrong about this being establishment of religion. The government has to allow the free practice of religion and must refrain from sponsoring religion. Allowing religious activities to occur is not sponsorship and does not constitute establishment. I'm not sure what law you are trying to change but it has nothing to do with the constitution. It sounds to me like this church might be creating a nuisance which the court has the power to enjoin. Talk with a local lawyer about what you can legally do to change the church's behavior.

Asker

Posted

I respectfully disagree. The church can be as loud as they want within their 4 walls. They have no right to come into my home. The law I am trying to change is LA Municipal Code Chapter 11, Article 5, Section 115.02b which "exempts" them from the noise law, per LAPD and the city attorney's office. By giving an exemption means the government is sponsoring religion. I don't have money for an attorney so if the law does not change I will have to take legal action myself.

Thomas J. Wagner

Thomas J. Wagner

Posted

I've just read the ordinance. The only exception listed in that section of the ordinance is to the time limitation (Between 4:30 pm and 9:00 am the next day for "except when used for regularly scheduled operative functions by any school or for the usual and customary purposes of any church" The church is not exempt under the ordinance from the requirement of subsection (f) which states: (f) Sound emanating from sound amplifying equipment shall be limited in volume, tone and intensity as follows: 1. The sound shall not be audible at a distance in excess of 200 feet from the sound equipment. 2. In no event shall the sound be loud and raucous or unreasonably jarring, disturbing, annoying or a nuisance to reasonable persons of normal sensitiveness within the area of audibility. " Is your residence within 200 feet of the speakers? More importantly, is the noise loud enough to be heard more than two hundred feet from the speakers? If so, the noise violates the ordinance. You may disagree about whether this ordinance sponsors religion, but I seriously doubt that a court will agree with you on that point. It probably should be pretty easy to prove that the church's speakers create noise that is audible more than 200 feet from the speaker, if that is the case. And it s=certainly is annoying to you in your home. Those two arguments are going to give you a much better chance of forcing the church to turn down the volume.

Asker

Posted

I totally agree. But the LAPD and city attorney disagree and agrue the word "exempt" exempts them from the whole code (law). I disagree with their interpetation of the law. I do agree with you on the law. I am within 100 feet of the church and it is a nuisiance. Because that word "exempt" they claim that the church is "exempt" from all laws in the code. That is the problem. I thank you so much for taking the time to read the law. I want to bring an awareness of the problem with the law and the misinterpetation of the law by the LA City Attorney and the LAPD noise enforcement team. No one should be above the law. Please help change the law.

Asker

Posted

Again, by that one code with the word "exempt" the city attorney and LAPD Noise enforcement team Det. Bettencourt claim all exemption from all the laws in the code.

Thomas J. Wagner

Thomas J. Wagner

Posted

While the City attorney may be misinterpreting the law, I doubt that a judge would. Sue to enjoin the church from violating the ordinance.

Asker

Posted

Thanks. I am trying to figure out how to do that on my own.

Asker

Posted

To sue the government or the church?

Thomas J. Wagner

Thomas J. Wagner

Posted

Sue the church to enjoin them. You should not do this on your own. Hire an attorney.

Asker

Posted

No money. I have to go this one alone. There is no choice. There is a similar case going on in the East Coast, RI. The man filed on his own.

Thomas J. Wagner

Thomas J. Wagner

Posted

Good luck. You might see if other neighbors are interested in joining the suit and pooling together money to hire an attorney.

Asker

Posted

No chance of that happening. My neighbors are all Catholic. They will not go against their church. I have to go it alone. Thanks for the good luck. I will need it.

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