Thursday, April 08, 2010

The First Court Ruling on Tom Rich vs. City of Jacksonville Portends Some Very Interesting Courtroom Drama

United States District Judge Marcia Morales Howard has delivered a thirty eight page ruling on the Florida State Attorney’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit by Tom and Yvette Rich. The Honorable Judge Morales has granted the request from the State Attorney’s office to dismiss the case against State Attorney Angela Corey under protection of the United States 11th Amendment, but allowed the case to continue against Stephen W. Seigel, the Assistant Florida State Attorney who is the one who actually signed Jacksonville Sheriff Officer Robert A. Hinson’s subpoena requests.

In her ruling, the judge commented on a United States citizen's right to anonymous speech, and that if what Mr. Rich alleges is true, an allegation that Mr. Rich may or may not be able to prove, then Mr. Rich's first amendment rights may have been violated. It is rare for a United States District Judge to issue thirty eight pages on a simple motion to dismiss. The ruling may be a strong signal to the defendants over the seriousness with which the United States legal system takes violations of a citizen's right to privacy and free speech.

The motion to dismiss did not pertain to Officer Hinson or the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, since law enforcement agencies do not fall under the immunity of the 11th Amendment. This ruling means that discovery will continue in the now infamous case, and depositions should start soon.