Chief Judge Creates First Amendment-Free Zone in Denver

FIJA Logo with URL

Kirsten Tynan
(406) 442-7800

Helena, MT—Chief Judge Michael A. Martinez has issued an order trampling on the First Amendment and effectively suffocating freedom of speech in traditional public forums surrounding the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver, Colorado. Dated August 14, 2015, the order has only come to the attention of the Fully Informed Jury Association after receiving pictures showing it posted on the courthouse doors.

Judge Martinez’ draconian order imposes sweeping and apparently arbitrary restrictions against First Amendment activity in and around the courthouse, encompassing traditional public forums such as the plaza, walkways, and roadways outside the courthouse. Per the language of the order, the newly-created First Amendment-free zone includes “the areas, lawns, walkways, or roadways between the Courthouse and public sidewalks and roads; and any areas, walkways, or roadways that connect public sidewalks and roads to Courthouse entrances or exits.” It specifically includes “the Courthouse entrance plaza areas on the east and west sides of the Courthouse” as an area in which the First Amendment will be summarily nullified by judicial edict.

Moreover, the order applies to a long list of peaceful, expressive activities that have taken place for many years at this location, including “Demonstrating; picketing; protesting; marching; parading; holding vigils or religious services; proselytizing or preaching; distributing literature or other materials, or engaging in similar conduct that involves the communication or expression of views or grievances” among others.

“It is well-established that the First Amendment prohibits content-based restrictions on the free exercise of speech, which is exactly what Denver engaged in by arresting juror rights educators Mr. Iannicelli and Mr. Brandt in recent weeks. This Constitutionally deficient order cannot disguise the blatant viewpoint discrimination that Denver employed in these arrests,” said FIJA Executive Director Kirsten Tynan.

Legal precedent in this matter is clear. It is legally impermissible for government restrictions on free speech in a public forum to be content-based. Additionally, time, place, and manner restrictions, if imposed, must be reasonable, narrowly-tailored, and there must be a compelling reason for imposing them, such as safety. Free speech restrictions implemented under the rubric of time, place, and manner restrictions may not be imposed simply to stamp out dissent or to provide legal cover for viewpoint discrimination by government.

A hearing regarding this issue along with a motion for injunction against further arrests of juror rights educators for sharing jury nullification information outside the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver is scheduled for tomorrow, Friday, August 21 at 2:00 pm in the Alfred A. Arraj U.S. Courthouse on the corner of 19th and Champa in Judge William Martinez’ courtroom. Photo ID is required for entry.

About the Fully Informed Jury Association
The Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, nonpartisan, educational organization headquartered in Helena, Montana. Focusing on issues involving the role of the jury in our justice system, FIJA seeks to preserve the full function of the jury as the final arbiter in our courts of law by informing everyone about their rights, powers and responsibilities in delivering just verdicts when serving as jurors. The organization does not advocate for or against any case in progress, but rather seeks to fully inform everyone of all their options when serving on juries. This includes the option to conscientiously acquit when a just verdict requires it by voting Not Guilty, even if they believe the law has technically been broken, without fear of punishment for their verdict.

FIJA’s national office conducts its campaign solely through educational outreach programs and materials. A variety of brochures and other materials are available for free download by anyone from the online Library or can be purchased through the online Media Catalog. Many juror rights educators use these brochures for general educational outreach at courthouses, at fairs and festivals, at public speaking engagements, and so on.

Related Documentation
Chief Judge Order Regarding Expressive Activities at Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse, CJO 15-01
Photo of order being posted
Photo of page 1 of the order on the courthouse doors
Photo of page 2 of the order on the courthouse doors
Photo of page 3 of the order on the courthouse doors
Photo of entire order posted on the courthouse doors