City Hall

Again, Muni Judge Dismisses the City's Case Against Dealey Plaza Vendor Groden. Next Stop: County Court of Criminal Appeals!

I certainly hope this doesn't become a daily occurrence; no doubt you feel the same way. But there has been a development today in the city's case against Robert Groden, the JFK conspiracy theorist who's been selling his materials in Dealey Plaza for almost two decades and now finds himself entangled in two cases involving the city of Dallas.

To recap, as quick as I can: He was arrested and detained by Dallas police over the summer for selling his materials. That led to a criminal case, which led to Groden filing a federal civil case against the city claiming malicious prosecution. Dallas Municipal Judge Carrie Chavez dismissed the city's case against Groden in December, writing, among other things, that the city couldn't prosecute Groden for selling in Dealey Plaza because he wasn't violating city code, which, far as she can tell, says nothing about needing a permit to sell down in Dealey Plaza. Shortly after the city filed a motion to reconsider; two days ago, the city, with a doc signed by Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, said again it was pressing on with the case.

Which brings us to today's ruling by Judge Chavez, which follows on the other side and says, long story short, the city's motion to reconsider "has no merit." Says Brad Kizzia, Groden's attorney, "It's obvious that the judge stands by her prior ruling dismissing the unwarranted and legally invalid charges against Mr. Groden."

But the city isn't about to drop anything. First Assistant City Attorney Chris Bowers says the city will take its case to the County Court of Criminal Appeals. When asked if the city has every intention of pursuing the criminal charges against Groden, Bowers says: "Yes."

When asked why, he says: "The city's only interest in this matter, from the beginning till now, has been to enforce its ordinance, which prohibits selling goods or services in areas under the jurisdiction of the park board."

Chavez has said otherwise -- that city code is unclear about under whose jurisdiction Dealey Plaza falls.

"We have a lot of respect for Judge Chavez," Bower says, "but we believe in this particular instance she's incorrect and will exercise our right to appeal her ruling."
Judge Chavez December 7 Ruling in State v Robert Groden

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky