Tuesday, October 04, 2022

The Onion files Supreme Court amicus brief defending the right to parody. (WaPo)

Our City of St. Augustine's patron saint, Saint Augustine of Hippo, wrote that, "an unjust law is no law at all."

The same goes triple for unjust lawmen like DAVID SHOAR.  They are not lawmen at all, but lawbreakers, inflicting "Jim Crow law."

Parma, Ohio Police allegedly arrested and jailed a man for four days, retaliation for his obviously satirical Facebook page. 

These are noisome nasty betrayers of their oaths to preserve, protect and defend our Constitution. 

Sounds like the Parma, Ohio Police Department and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals badly need their consciousness raised.  The Onion is right,

Parma, Ohio Police Department's actions remind me of the outrageous fascist piggery and thuggery here in St. Augustine under the maladministration of WILLIAM BARRY HARRISS, City Manager from 1998-2010, with the contrivance connivance of our orotund and other-directed St. Augustine Police Chief (later Sheriff) DAVID SHOAR, a vicious vituperative varmint who covered up at least one officer-involved domestic violence homicide, the man who legally changed his name from "HOAR" in 1994.  

HARRISS "retired" in 2010.

SHOAR was elected Sheriff in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016, finally retiring in 2021.

SHOAR put HARRISS on the Sheriff's payroll ($1500/month).

The itty-bitty-City's, HARRISS's, SHOAR'S, and SAPD's hateful campaign inflicted "Jim Crow law" on street artists and performers, a stench in the nostrils of our Nation significantly encouraged by mendacious Mayors CLAUDE LEONARD WEEKS, JR. a d JOSEPH LESTER BOLES, JR., who suppressed First Amendment protected activity while ripping off local residents and taxpayers, as exemplified by their stinky 81 St. George Street lease of City property at 20% of market rates, ably exposed by FOLIO WEEKLY.

Amidst their war on our rights, a federal jury got to rule against these radicals and against our corrupt City of St. Augustine's vicious attack on free speech rights. The jury ruled against the City.  The verdict was upheld.  The City did not appeal.

The late heroic civil rights lawyer William Sheppard and Gray Thomas and William Yokan from his law firm successfully represented the late heroic civil rights plaintiff Warren Celli, winning a $23,500 jury verdict against the City of St. Augustine, Florida for its suppression of his satirical newspaper, the St. Aug Dog.

Four hours of First Amendment violations on St. George Street resulted in a $23,500 jury verdict.  

HARRISS, SHOAR & Co, exposed as the humorless haters they were: PRICELESS.

To the City and all who would imitate it, let me quote the words I said to one of our former County Commissioners after he was arrested for bribery by FBI agents: DON'T DO IT AGAIN.

Read the District Court's decision in Celli v. City of St. Augustine, 214 F. Supp. 2d 1255 (M.D. Fla. 2000)

Read the Sixth Circuit's decision in Novak v. City of Parma, Ohio,

Read The Onion's hilarious and pointed Supreme Court amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief on our rights to parody without fear of arrest by fascists.

Footnote: My late mentor, Honorable Nahum Litt, argued more than 70 cases in appellate courts, including the Sixth Circuit, for the Interstate Commerce Commission.  Judge Litt was later Chief Administrative Law Judge of the Civil Aeronautics Board (1977-1979) and U.S. Department of Labor Office fo Administrative Law Judges (1979-1995).  Judge Litt went on to found and write the New Smyrna Beach Shadow, exposing and satirizing the NSB and Volusia County Establishment.  Judge Litt would heartily agree with The Onion and would have loved its satire of legal Latin and "scholarship," having once written a satirical article on judges' personalities and work habits ("A Judicial Aviary") for the American Bar Association's Judge's Journal. 

Chief Judge Litt, his daughter Marcia and I were once watching an episode of the tv comedy, "Night Court," and he remarked with words to the effect that, "this program mocks the justice system that I served for 40 years." I responded, "no, Judge, you were part of the civil injustice system. This program mocks the criminal injustice system."

The American criminal injustice system is mocked by unjust judges who would rubber-stamp the arrest and incarceration of Mr. Novak for making fun of the Parma, Ohio Police Department. 

The First Amendment, in its majesty, must protect our right to criticize, mock and expose governments for what they do, and don't do.

The Supreme Court should grant Mr. Novak's writ of certiorari and decide on our right to parody.  

From The Washington Post:

The Onion files Supreme Court amicus brief defending the right to parody

The Supreme Court building. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg News)

The Onion — a satirical publication known for poking fun at everything from popular culture to global politics — is taking a stab at a serious issue. On Monday, it filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of an Ohio man who faced criminal charges over a Facebook page parodying his local police department.

Anthony Novak, an amateur comic from Parma, a Cleveland suburb, was arrested and briefly jailed after creating a fake social media page in 2016 styled after the Parma Police Department’s Facebook page. His lawyers argue it was an obvious parody, and he was acquitted at trial.

Novak subsequently filed a civil suit alleging his constitutional rights were violated, though that was dismissed after a federal appeals court granted the police officers qualified immunity — a legal doctrine that protects government officials from being sued for allegedly violating civil rights. “There’s no recognized right to be free from a retaliatory arrest that is supported by probable cause,” the appellate judges ruled.

Now, Novak is petitioning the Supreme Court to take up his case.

True to form, the supporting brief filed by the Onion’s lawyers Monday takes a satirical approach in its bid to get the nation’s top court to consider Novak’s petition. It starts with an outlandishly false claim that the Onion is “the world’s leading news publication,” with a “daily readership of 4.3 trillion” that has “grown into the single most powerful and influential organization in human history.”

The Onion created lovable ‘Diamond Joe’ Biden. Then it destroyed him.

Despite the sarcasm and hyperbole, the legal brief isn’t a joke. The publication’s aim is to get the Supreme Court to scrutinize qualified immunity and free speech rights. (Amicus briefs are documents filed by parties not directly involved in a case to provide the court with additional information.)

“The Onion cannot stand idly by in the face of a ruling that threatens to disembowel a form of rhetoric that has existed for millennia, that is particularly potent in the realm of political debate, and that, purely incidentally, forms the basis of The Onion’s writers’ paychecks,” the brief says.

It also highlights what the Onion suggests are shortcomings in the legal system when it comes to protecting those who use comedy to question people in positions of authority.

“The Onion regularly pokes its finger in the eyes of repressive and authoritarian regimes, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, and domestic presidential administrations,” the brief says. “So The Onion’s professional parodists were less than enthralled to be confronted with a legal ruling that fails to hold government actors accountable for jailing and prosecuting a would-be humorist simply for making fun of them.”

According to Novak’s lawyers, police obtained a warrant for his arrest over a fake Facebook page that mocked the department. The page in question was up for only about 12 hours before Novak took it down after law enforcement threatened a criminal investigation. They searched his apartment, seized his electronics and charged him with a felony under an Ohio law that criminalizes using a computer to “disrupt” police operations.

Novak’s petition calls on the Supreme Court to decide whether officials can claim qualified immunity when they arrest someone based purely on speech. It also asks the justices to do away with the doctrine altogether.

The Onion didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on its legal brief. The Parma police officials named in the brief couldn’t be immediately reached for comment, while the city’s legal department did not immediately return requests for comment overnight Monday. Andrew Wimer, a spokesman for the Institute for Justice, the civil rights law nonprofit which is representing Novak, described the Onion brief as “both humorous and very serious.”

“If the police can use their authority to arrest their critics without consequence, everyone’s rights are at risk,” the institute said in a statement.

Rachel Pannett joined the Post's foreign desk in 2021 after more than a decade with The Wall Street Journal, where she was deputy bureau chief for Australia and New Zealand.  Twitter

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And the knowledge of qualified immunity by government employees is what gives them the idea and the balls to violate civil rights. I'm suggesting that they are fully aware that their actions constitute civil rights violations and they perform these actions knowing that there won't be reprocussions. It's a license to treat people like shit. And although it might be rare, there will always be people who go into government to be able to treat people like shit and get away with it or exercise their own personal religious or political beliefs against others who might not share those beliefs. Qualified immunity is irresponsible. Some might argue that lack of qualified immunity would be too costly to government somehow, but this is simply not true. Every lawsuit doesn't have to cost the government millions of dollars. The government has a rigid thought process and way of doing things with logical fallacies running amok.