4 homeless Ohio men sue to sleep at courthouse


CINCINNATI — Four homeless men have filed a federal lawsuit aimed at blocking a southwest Ohio sheriff from forcing them to stop sleeping outside the county courthouse.

The suit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati alleges the men’s constitutional rights are being violated and that they face “cruel and unusual punishment” for being homeless. It asks a federal judge to grant a restraining order to allow them to continue the long-standing use of areas that are open to the public such as the Hamilton County Courthouse steps and outside benches.

Sheriff Jim Neil had announced a plan to help the homeless with their issues before eventually ending their practice of sleeping outside the courthouse. He cites a public health hazard. A sheriff’s spokesman said he couldn’t comment on litigation.