first amendment retaliation

In April, we blogged about Eubanks v. Woods, in which the Sixth Circuit reversed a district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Ohio police officers sued for First Amendment retaliation and unlawful arrest after the officers arrested the plaintiff for speech against the police.  Also in April, the same court heard Novak v. City of Parma, in which a plaintiff appealed a district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Ohio police officers for First Amendment retaliation and unlawful arrest after the plaintiff was arrested for speech against the police.  This time, the Sixth Circuit affirmed.

The opinion begins “Anthony Novak thought it would be funny to create a Facebook page that looked like the Parma Police Department’s.” But beyond being “funny,” Novak asserted that the masquerading social media page was an exercise of his fundamental American right to mock government officials.

Continue Reading Cop Critic Unsuccessful on Constitutional Claims in the 6th Circuit

“This case is about a tree house.” Lepper v. Vill. of Babylon, 18CV7011JMAAYS, 2022 WL 939719, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 29, 2022).  In a recent federal case out of Long Island, NY, plaintiffs John and Noelle Lepper and their minor children brought an action against the Village of Babylon and several Village officials. The plaintiffs asserted a slew of constitutional claims related to a tree house that the plaintiffs constructed on their property.  Their claims included, among others, First Amendment retaliation, violations of due process and equal protection, excessive fines in violation of the Eight Amendment, and conspiracy.

Mr. Lepper first began constructing a tree house in his yard after finding a hypodermic needle on the ground near where his children play.  The plaintiffs did not apply for a building permit prior to construction, despite the fact that the Village required building permits for tree houses, playgrounds, and outdoor gyms with lot areas of over 90 square feet.

Continue Reading U.S. District Court Rejects Tree House Builder’s Federal Claims

Last month, the Sixth Circuit reversed a district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of six Ohio police officers sued for unlawful arrest and retaliation against the free expression of protected speech.

In 2016, Michael Wood entered a county fair sporting an uncensored t-shirt that read “F**k the Police.” Within a few hours, six police officers and fairgrounds’ director Dean Blair had descended upon Wood asking to see the offending shirt. Although Wood had since covered up or changed out of the t-shirt, the officers heeded Blair’s demand that Wood be removed from the fair.  Wood agreed to go, but not quietly; as he was escorted off of the fairgrounds, Wood leveled profane insults at Blair and the officers and cited violations of his First Amendment right to free speech.  The officers then arrested Wood for disorderly conduct.

Continue Reading Cop Critic Prevails on Constitutional Claims in the 6th Circuit