Hundreds show up for posting of Ten Commandments in Indiana

Thursday, July 6, 2000

Nearly 300 people showed up at the Orange County Courthouse in Indiana early July
1 for the posting of the Ten Commandments.

Shrugging off the threat of
lawsuits, Orange County officials in Paoli, Ind., put a plaque with the religious
tenets on display at 12:01 a.m., becoming the first municipality to take
advantage of a new state law that allows government entities to post the

The law specifies that they be posted with other historical
documents and went into effect July 1.
Associated Press

Delaware: Legislation to improve Delaware’s FOIA dies

A bill that would have updated Delaware’s Freedom of Information Act
died June 30 when the General Assembly failed to consider the legislation
before adjourning.

Supporters of the bill promised to bring the legislation
back to the General Assembly next year. The bill would have modernized the law,
which hasn’t changed since its adoption 25 years ago. The bill would have
allowed agencies to post notices and respond to FOI requests electronically,
via either e-mail, computer disc or putting information on the Internet.

bill was assigned to the Senate Executive Committee in April by Senate
President Pro Tempore Tom Sharp. It never emerged. Associated Press

Boston Phoenix announces Muzzle Awards

The Boston Phoenix
has announced the recipients of its third annual
Awards. The alternative news publication presents the awards just before
Independence Day for free-expression violations committed in New England since
the previous July 4. This year’s winners are:

Various people at Amherst Regional High School for
contributing to the cancellation of a production of West Side Story: student
Camille Sola who protested the “stereotypical” production; spring musical
supervisor Wendy Kohler who canceled the production because of all the
controversy; and Principal Scott Goldman and Superintendent Gus Sayer who
should have argued strongly and clearly for free speech.
Related story

Guy DiBiaso, superintendent of the Bristol-Warren Regional
School District in Rhode Island, for extending the suspension of a sixth-grader
in May 1999 for allegedly being affiliated with a group known as the Scottish
Mafia, a takeoff on Columbine’s Trenchcoat Mafia.

Judge Allan Van Gestal for ruling against the Parents’ Rights
Coalition in a case where the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders charged
the right-wing group with secretly taping and releasing a Gay, Lesbian, and
Straight Education Network discussion of homosexuality with youth ages

Weymouth Police for arresting protester Nick Giannone and two
Weymouth High School students in September for posting handmade fliers
publicizing an upcoming rally for convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal,
claiming the three violated an anti-tagging law.

Maria Garcia-Aaronson, headmaster of the Boston Latin Academy,
for suspending student Charles Carithers after teacher Shital Shah complained
that he wrote a horror story assignment too well. Carithers wrote about a
17-year-old athlete who cut off his teacher’s hand with a chain saw, picked it
up and slapped her with it. Related

U.S. District Judge Edward Harrington for issuing an
injunction that outlawed a program created by Canadian Matthew Skala and Swede
Eddy L.O. Jansson to reverse Cyber Patrol, a widely used Internet filtering
program that sometimes blocks legitimate Web sites.
Related story

Peter Levine, CEO of the University of Massachusetts Memorial
Health Care in Worcester, for firing William Meyers, head of the surgery
department, for frankly talking with two financial donors about tension between
hospital administrators and doctors, and how managed care was adding to those

Rutland County (Vt.) District Court Judge M. Patricia
Zimmerman for issuing an order barring Scott Huminski from state Supreme Court
property for the rest of his life after he parked his van in a courthouse lot
with a sign listing five cases in which Rutland County District Court Judge
Nancy Corsones had allegedly acted in an unconstitutional manner.
Related story

Former Worcester City Councilor Tim Cooney for prodding the
city parks commission to ban profanity from a rock music festival which was on
a piece of public property near a golf course he uses.

Washington: ACLU blames Seattle officials for WTO disruptions

Seattle police should have known enough to keep an open passage for
World Trade Organization delegates during protests last fall, an American Civil
Liberties Union report has concluded. Instead, according to the 71-page report
“Out of Control,” prepared for formal release yesterday, bungling resulted in
violation of the First Amendment rights of delegates and protesters. The report
is based largely on anonymous accounts from more than 500 peopled who completed
a form on the ACLU’s Web site about the disorders that marred the international
gathering Nov. 30-Dec. 3. Associated

Colorado: Columbine 911 tapes released to public

Confusion about where the Columbine High School gunmen were, calls
from parents worried about their children at the school and a sheriff’s
dispatcher asking if any deputies on the scene had “long arms” can be heard on
911 and dispatch audio tapes released yesterday. Missing from the nearly 45
hours of tapes is a complete recording of an FBI-enhanced version of the
26-minute call placed by teacher Patti Nielson from the library, the main
killing field of the April 20, 1999, massacre. The tapes were released nearly
two months after Judge R. Brooke Jackson ordered the edited tapes released
under Colorado’s Open Records Act. Associated Press

California: Judge drops gag order in Sara Jane Olson case

Because of a Talk
magazine interview given by Patty Hearst Shaw, a judge revoked his gag order on
June 30 in the case of former Symbionese Liberation Army fugitive Sara Jane
Olson. Superior Court Judge James Ideman said he couldn’t punish Hearst Shaw
because she lived in Connecticut, outside his jurisdiction. He said that gave
him no choice but to “unleash” all parties and allow them to comment. Olson
took advantage of the lifted gag order on July 1 to contest Hearst Shaw’s
version of events of when both were connected to the SLA. Olson is accused of
plotting with SLA members to kill Los Angeles police officers with pipe bombs
in 1975. Hearst Shaw was kidnapped by the SLA in 1974, then joined the group
and helped rob a bank. Associated

Arkansas: Newspaper to appeal contempt citation

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette plans to appeal a Washington County
judge’s finding that it was in contempt of court now that the state Supreme
Court has thrown out the judge’s gag order on the press. The newspaper filed a
notice of appeal on July 3 with the Washington County circuit clerk, signaling
its intent to contest the contempt citation before the Arkansas Supreme Court.
The gag order, issued on May 18 by Washington County juvenile court Judge
Stacey Zimmerman, prohibited news outlets from taking photos of a 13-year-old
defendant and from using his name, although both had already been published in
the days since the shooting. The paper published photos of the defendant on May
19. The defendant, Michael Nichols, is accused of shooting Prairie Grove Police
Sgt. Greg Lovett on May 11 near Prairie Grove Junior High.
Associated Press

Arkansas: School district must allow suspended student to make up

On June 28, U.S. District Judge George Howard Jr. ordered the Valley
View School District to give Justin Redman, who was suspended for creating a
Web site that parodied his school’s Web site, the opportunity to finish his
schoolwork and to take the tests he missed during his suspension. The order
came in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas on
behalf of Redman and his parents. Meanwhile, Circuit Judge John Fogleman on
June 30 ruled in favor of The Jonesboro Sun in a freedom-of-information lawsuit
against the Valley View School District. The newspaper filed the suit June 14
after the school district’s board held a closed hearing on Redman’s appeal of
his suspension. Redman’s parents requested a closed hearing and the newspaper
filed the complaint in Craighead County Circuit Court, contending that state
law provides for closed sessions only when a student has been expelled.
Fogleman said he was certain that the state Legislature did not intend for
local school boards to conduct open sessions about the possible suspension of a
student, but that it was not up to him to rewrite the law.
Associated Press

California: Students barred from graduation over underground

Four seniors – barred from graduation for their roles in publishing an
underground campus newspaper – lost their last-minute court bid to attend
commencement ceremonies at Palisades Charter High School. The June 21 ruling,
handed down a day before graduation, sustained the right of school officials to
punish students involved with the incendiary broadsheet, which included
profanity and sexual references and ridiculed several teachers. In March, 11
students were suspended, and, a few weeks later, a handful were permanently
expelled. LA Weekly Related story

Florida: Lawyers argue over release of tape showing teen killing

Defense lawyer Robert Udell told a Florida judge June 30 that
releasing a school surveillance video police say shows a 13-year-old boy
gunning down a teacher would prejudice the jury to be selected for the trial.
But Martin Reeder, a lawyer representing The Palm
Beach Post
and the Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale, argued that under
the state public-records law, his clients have a right to the tape showing
seventh-grader Nathaniel Brazill killing teacher Barry Grunow. After hearing
arguments by the lawyers, Judge Richard I. Wennet said he would issue a written
decision later. He also set an Aug. 24 status hearing in the case. Associated

Washington: Fired state doctor wins $8 million in damages

In a retrial, Dr. Tariq Ahmed, a former medical doctor at Rainier
State School in Buckley, was awarded on June 30 more than $8 million in damages
after being fired for speaking out about problems at the school for mentally
disabled adults. Ahmed contended his First Amendment right to free speech had
been violated. Peter Berney, an assistant attorney general who represented the
defense, said the state would consider an appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court
of Appeals, which struck down the previous verdict in the case and ordered the
retrial. Associated Press

Alabama: Officials’ criticism of state senator protected speech

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled on June 30 that the comments by Selma
Mayor Joe Smitherman and Dallas Country Board of Education member Cecil
Williamson against state Sen. Hank Sanders were protected by the First
Amendment. Sanders sued Smitherman and Williamson for defamation after the men
criticized him over public funds channeled to agencies created by his wife. The
high court said the men’s comments were “imaginative expression” and
“rhetorical hyperbole” – free speech protected by the Constitution. Sanders,
the court said, was a public figure open to public criticism. Associated

New Hampshire: Residents threaten suit over library’s Internet

The Nashua-based First Amendment Legal Defense Fund Citizens Against
Censorship threatened to sue the Nashua Public Library unless it revokes a
policy that forces people browsing the Internet on its computers to use Web
filtering software. Arthur Ketchen, president of the free-speech advocacy
group, said the policy interferes with the rights of adults who should be
allowed to view any material they wish. Robert Frost, the library’s assistant
director, defended the filtering practice, saying officials want to keep
people, especially children, from using library Internet connections to access
pornography. Associated Press

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