Mock-Nazi Salute Case in Two Mayors Trial Goes to Appeal

Update on the Two Mayors Trial Case
by Robert Norse
Friday Apr 12th, 2013 4:46 PM

The eleven-year-long lawsuit against the Santa Cruz City Council for an exclusion and false arrest back in March 2002 is now going to appeal before Judge Robert Whyte in Federal District Court. Late last year, an 8-person jury in November dismissed all damage claims against former Mayors Christopher Krohn and Tim Fitzmaurice. Eleven years ago, I was arrested at City Council for making a brief gesture of dissent (a silent mock-Nazi salute) and refusing to leave. The two attorneys involved are challenging the jury verdict with a response due from the City Attorney by May 5th.

This was a civil trial around the issue of the right of citizens to remain at City Council, even if Council members find their opinions and the expression of those opinions offensive. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had held that only an actual disruption can be the basis for a criminal charge of disrupting a public meeting. Hence the kind of arrest that Mayor Krohn–pressured by former Mayor Fitzmaurice–initiated was a false arrest. Indeed, even the Santa Cruz District Attorney’s Office declined to file any criminal charges against me.

City Council declined to modify its “decorum” rules to comport with the First Amendment and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals standards. They preferred to spend $125,000+ of the City’s money defending the arbitrary and erroneous use of power by the Mayor to exclude outspoken critics from Council.

For more detail, follow links in the stories below.

Some reports on the actual trial:

A video of the “don’t act like fascists” salute: