Rainbow Family lawsuit dismissed

Denver Post/July 1, 2006
By Alicia Caldwell

A lawsuit demanding improved public access to court proceedings for Rainbow Family members facing illegal camping citations in Routt County was dismissed today after the government made accommodations for interested parties.

Lawyers for the government and those who said they couldn't get in to the crowded firehouse-turned-courtroom near Steamboat Springs took a long recess during a morning hearing in Denver and telephoned those involved in the Routt County proceedings.

Upon learning there no longer were concerns about access, both sides claimed victory.

"And indeed, the real winner here is the public," said U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger as she declared the issue moot.

The Rainbow Family of Living Light is a loosely-knit group of people say they are devoted to peace and love and who hold annual campouts on federal land.

Thus year's event, which is expected to draw up to 20,000 people, is being held on federal land near Steamboat Springs.

Federal authorities contend the unpermitted campers are illegally cutting trees, burning camp fires during a dangerously dry season and leaving large amounts of human and animal waste. The service has engaged in a broad effort to ticket those campers.

In an effort to make court convenient for those camping in the remote location, the government converted a nearby fire station into a temporary courtroom.

Earlier this week, one of those who received a citation and his lawyer filed a lawsuit in federal court contending people who wanted to observe the proceedings were unconstitutionally being turned away. They asked for an emergency hearing.

However, late Thursday the government agreed to put more chairs in the makeshift courtroom and open a door to the fire house so that people outside could listen to the proceedings.

During Friday's hearing on the complaint, lawyers for both sides said they were satisfied that the modifications had addressed the concerns.

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