Bob Corn-Revere — renown First Amendment defender and CBLDF’s general counsel — scored a victory for free speech this week in the case of photojournalist Mannie Garcia, who was arrested by authorities in Maryland after taking photos of police officers arresting two Hispanic men on a public street. The U.S. Department of Justice has taken the rare action of intervening against Maryland authorities on behalf of Garcia.
Corn-Revere is part of the team representing Garcia, who was arrested for disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and disturbing the peace. Garcia was found not guilty of disorderly conduct during trial, and he subsequently filed a civil rights suit against the Maryland police department, arguing that his photography was constitutionally protected and the actions of Maryland authorities violated both the First and Fourth Amendments. The National Law Journal describes the actions taken by the Justice Department on Garcia’s behalf, calling for the dismissal of a motion by Montgomery County, Maryland, to throw out Garcia’s suit:
The Justice Department warned in its statement, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, that that discretionary charges, including disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and disturbing the peace, “are all too easily used to curtail expressive conduct or to retaliate against individuals for expressing their First Amendment rights.” Trial judges, the department said, should “view such charges skeptically.”
Corn-Revere responded to the decision:
“The fact that the federal government has chosen to take a stand underscores the fact that this is far from an isolated case,” said Corn-Revere, who practices in First Amendment law and communications. “Unfortunately, police departments in jurisdictions across the United States will have to learn from cases like this that photography is not a crime.”
You can read more about the case here. Congratulations to Corn-Revere and his team for this key victory for the First Amendment!