Friday, July 9, 2010

Judge to sheriff: Go back to class

(Update - John Richardson has more and a copy of the ruling. Well Done, sir)

Related to a previous post Permit denial decision U.S. District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett ruled against Osceola County Sheriff Douglas L. Weber in the suit brought by Paul Dorr, a local rabble-rouser. I've never met the man but I have talked to a few of his children.

Apparently the good sheriff didn't like Dorr's snooping in his department and asking questions about his budget. After having a permit to carry for many years,
But then in 2007, after Weber was elected sheriff, he denied Dorr's application for a permit, listing the reason for his denial as "Concern from Public. Don't trust him."

Bennett's ruling says Weber, who was a deputy before he was elected sheriff, knew about Dorr's prior activities but it wasn't until Dorr began working for a local taxpayers association seeking county spending records, including records from Weber's office, that the sheriff rejected his application.

Judge orders Iowa sheriff to issue gun permit
One of the reasons I don't like the whole "asking permission" process we have in this state.

After ruling for the first time from the bench a month ago, Judge Bennett follows up with these comments:
“The court finds a tsunami, a maelstrom, an avalanche, of direct, uncontroverted evidence in Sheriff Weber’s own testimony to conclude beyond all doubt that he unquestionably violated the First Amendment rights of at least Paul Dorr,” Bennett wrote in his ruling.

Weber’s reason for disapproving the application was, “concern from public. Don’t trust him.” The following year Weber also denied Alexander Dorr’s application for a permit and informed Paul Dorr that he would deny any further applications from him.

Weber testified that he had heard people refer to Paul as “a whacko, delusional, a nut job, a spook, and narcissist,” Bennett’s decision noted. “Regardless of the adjective used to describe Paul, however, Sheriff Weber stated that Paul’s ‘lousy’ reputation was due to his political activities of writing letters to the editor and distributing fliers.”

The ruling continued, “Giving Sheriff Weber more deference than is due his elected status, the court finds that Sheriff Weber denied Paul’s application for a concealed weapons permit not because of the content of his First Amendment activity but because it was effective and agitated many members of the local community.”

And, Bennett said, “In denying Paul a concealed weapons permit, Sheriff Weber single-handedly hijacked the First Amendment and nullified its freedoms and protections. Ironically, Sheriff Weber, sworn to uphold the Constitution, in fact retaliated against a citizen of his county who used this important freedom of speech and association precisely in the manner envisioned by the founding members of our nation ...

"In doing so, this popularly elected Sheriff, who appears to be a fine man and an excellent law enforcement officer, in all other regards, blatantly caved in to public pressure and opinion and, in doing so, severely trampled the Constitution and Paul’s First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association. This is a great reminder that the First Amendment protects the sole individual who may be a gadfly, kook, weirdo, nut job, whacko, and spook, with the same force of protection as folks with more majoritarian and popular views."

Federal judge orders Osceola County sheriff to issue gun permit
And the Coup de Gras:
Bennett required Weber take a class that must be a college-level course on the United States Constitution, “including -- at least in part -- a discussion of the First Amendment.” And Bennet said, Weber must obtain approval from the court before participating in the class. Upon completion of the class, Weber must also file anan [sic] affidavit with the clerk of court showing successful completion with a passing grade.
That's gotta smart.

Sheriff Weber wouldn't comment in any article I found.

Sean McClanahan has some thoughts on this as well: District Court Judge awards permit and requires training for Sheriff

No comments: