Back in June we broke the news that Robert Groden, perhaps the most familiar (and certainly the most respected) of all the Dealey Plaza vendors peddling JFK assassination materials, had been arrested and detained by Dallas Police officers on the clean-up crackdown. Groden filed a federal suit claiming, among other things, the DPD violated his First Amendment rights and falsely imprisoned him. As the Oliver Stone consultant and co-author of High Treason: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy & the Case for Conspiracy told Unfair Park this summer, "If they can do it to me, they can do it to anyone."
A few weeks ago, we noted that Brad Kizzia, the attorney repping Groden, had asked Dallas Municipal Judge Carrie Chavez to dismiss the city's charges; he did so in advance of a hearing that was set for this morning, at which time Chavez would rule whether the city could proceed with its case against Groden or dismiss the whole thing. The ruling -- much of which deals with issues of jurisdiction and a close reading of the Dallas City Code -- is in, and long story short: Case dismissed. Kizzia and I exchanged a few e-mails about the ramifications of the ruling, and the lawyer writes:
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Unless the City appeals, that's the end of the criminal case, and the basis for the Municipal Court's ruling indicates that no future charges, arrests, or prosecutions of Groden should occur. The end to police harassment of Groden in Dealey Plaza! Hallelujah!!
I think that this ruling should provide a substantial boost to Groden's civil suit against the City. It establishes that the charge, arrest, and prosecution were without any valid legal basis. The federal court was waiting on this ruling and can now address Groden's civil rights' claims, i.e. were Groden's due process rights, his First Amendment rights, and/or his rights to liberty and property, violated when the City charged, arrested, jailed him, and confiscated his property without any legal basis for doing so? If so, what were his damages (e.g. attorney's fees, lost sales, etc.)?
Chavez's ruling, an interesting read, follows.
Update at 4:47 p.m.: First Assistant City Attorney Chris Bowers sends this response to the judge's ruling: "The City is studying the judge's order dismissing the complaint against Mr. Groden, and is considering its options."