Frisco, Texas Police fail Free Speech Test
January 18, 2014
42 USC 1983, Civil rights violation, First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Frisco Texas, Frisco Texas Police, Law Enforcement, Police abuse, Police Officer Thomas Mronzinski, Ron Martin, Texas, Thomas Mronzinski
This is from Frisco, Texas, a suburb of Dallas.
In the news video, the reporter quotes the police report, where the officer states that Ron Martin was “interfering” with his speeding enforcement duties. It is clear that the officer would have preferred to charge Martin with Interference with Public Duties, which read:
“(a) A person commits an offense if the person with criminal negligence interrupts, disrupts, impedes, or otherwise interferes with: (1) a peace officer while the peace officer is performing a duty or exercising authority imposed or granted by law. . . .” Tex. Pen. Code Ann. § 38.15 (Vernon).
The report language tracks the statute, which is how officers are taught to write the report. It is also clear that the officer could not get past the free speech part of the statute. It provides not just one, but two defenses.
“(c) It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (a)(1) that the conduct engaged in by the defendant was intended to warn a person operating a motor vehicle of the presence of a peace officer who was enforcing Subtitle C, Title 7, Transportation Code.
(d) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the interruption, disruption, impediment, or interference alleged consisted of speech only.” Tex. Pen. Code Ann. § 38.15 (Vernon)
So since they couldn’t charge him with a Class B misdemeanor, they came up with another BS charge, violation of the city’s sign ordinance, Frisco, Tex. Sign Ordinance
, 11-01-04 (Jan. 4, 2011), which is only a Class C misdemeanor, normally handled by a ticket and not an arrest. This ordinance is fairly short, but creates a regulation which is over 50 pages long. Originally the city argued that the person holding the sign had to be on private property.
This is clearly an attempt to regulate speech by content, based on the city’s reactions to other people carrying signs. If it is a sign protesting Obama, no problem. Note that this person was on public property also.