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Man Arrested For Parodying Mayor On Twitter Files Civil Rights Lawsuit 163

Posted by timothy
from the and-how-will-this-play-out dept.
mpicpp (3454017) writes with an update from Ars Technica to this story: "The Illinois man who made headlines when he was detained for parodying the town's mayor on Twitter sued the Peoria politician and local police, claiming on Thursday that his civil rights were violated. As part of the April raid, the authorities seized the mobile phone and laptop of the 29-year-old prankster, Jonathan Daniel, and reviewed their contents, which he says was in violation of his First Amendment rights. Daniel, the operator of the @peoriamayor handle shut down by Twitter after the city threatened a lawsuit, was initially accused of impersonating a public official in violation of Illinois law. The authorities never lodged charges, however."
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Man Arrested For Parodying Mayor On Twitter Files Civil Rights Lawsuit

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13, 2014 @09:18PM (#47234281)

    Is there a crowdfunding site where I can donate to his legal fund? I can't stand Illinois, and any time somebody scores a victory against the government there it brightens my day.

    • by Noah Haders (3621429) on Friday June 13, 2014 @09:31PM (#47234335)
      you could mock the mayor on twitter. sounds like he deserves it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Frobnicator (565869)

        you could mock the mayor on twitter. sounds like he deserves it.

        The mayor already resigned. He's still being sued, but he is no longer in office.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 14, 2014 @09:22AM (#47235939)

          > The mayor already resigned. He's still being sued, but he is no longer in office.

          That is false. Jim Ardis is still in office. [peoriagov.org]

          It is the Chief of Police who resigned [centralillinoisproud.com] to take a job as head of north american security for Caterpillar where he is surely making even more money.

          • by Druegan (646568)

            I seriously have to wonder about Cat's decision there. If it weren't for the high likelihood of the job being given to Settingsgaard as a reward for "looking the other way" when some Cat Exec's kid (or the Exec themself) got caught with hookers and blow at some downtown hotel, I'd think they were insane.

            No well-heeled global corporation would go hiring for a "security professional" at the Peoria Police Department, primarily because "encouraging lazy acts of random thuggery" and "complete failure to do your

    • by Frobnicator (565869) on Friday June 13, 2014 @11:13PM (#47234699) Journal

      I don't think you'll need to fund it. If you haven't read the PDF of his complaint, the listing of facts is surprisingly strong.

      Seriously, it is short, just read the few pages in the middle. Complaint in PDF [arstechnica.net].

      The claims include that there are written documents (probably email) between the mayor and the chief of police, where the mayor tells the cops to do something, the police chief says there is no legal basis, and the mayor tells him to do it anyway. Then the claims include that the cops made written statements (again, probably email) that show officers were ordered to arrest him, they balked saying there was no legal basis, but the police chief ordered it anyway. If he has those emails, that is rather damning.

      The list of claims continues by citing court records, where the police filed an empty form citing no probable cause even though the law requires proper documentation. Granting a warrant based on a blank probable cause statement is also pretty damning for those involved.

      If he actually has those papers, city officials and court officials declaring that they knew it was illegal but did it anyway, that is going to be hard for the individuals to deny.

      A few of them are likely just CYA papers, but if accurate, the exchange boils down to this: "Do this illegal thing." "Sorry boss, it is against the law." "I know it is against the law, do it anyway." If the allegations can be substantiated (and since the suit says those are all public official records, it should be easy to validate) then this case will be a quick settlement.

      • by rtb61 (674572) on Friday June 13, 2014 @11:58PM (#47234805) Homepage

        Based upon that, the fellow is tackling the problem all wrong. First up should be a call to Federal Authorities to file a complaint for infringement of his civil rights and let them do all the heavy lifting. Once the Feds have successfully prosecuted the case, his civil suit then becomes a simple manner of negotiating out the value of the claim.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Saturday June 14, 2014 @05:07AM (#47235377) Homepage

          At this stage he probably doesn't have much confidence in law enforcement.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            At this stage he probably doesn't have much confidence in law enforcement.

            At this stage, who does?

        • I would not count on the Feds to help much at all. One tactic employed by the Feds is to take so long to open or investigate a situation that statutes can no longer be enforced. If it is a civil violation you may have a very short time to file a suit. The expense of such a suit may be crushing for you as well even if you win. On top of all of that state or county sovereignty rules may make such a suit next to impossible. This is the false promise of our legal system at work. How often
        • by Lost Race (681080)
          Maybe he doesn't want to bankrupt the defendants before extracting maximal settlement value. They can go to prison after they pay him off.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        For a country keen on its seperation of powers, I'm constantly surprised there aren't independent police and prosecuting authorities. Appointments at the top are one thing, but direct orders from politician to police should be third world stuff.

      • by Rigel47 (2991727)
        The real question is where the fuck are the indictments? This is *criminal* behavior and yet the taxpayer is going to shoulder "justice." Until cops and elected officials get put in cuffs when they break the law this sort of BS will continue to happen.
      • I think this part is cool.

        "The claims include that there are written documents (probably email) between the mayor and the chief of police, where the mayor tells the cops to do something, the police chief says there is no legal basis, and the mayor tells him to do it anyway. Then the claims include that the cops made written statements (again, probably email) that show officers were ordered to arrest him, they balked saying there was no legal basis, but the police chief ordered it anyway. If he has those ema

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 14, 2014 @02:22AM (#47235131)

      His criminal charges were dropped, the only legal stuff he has left is his lawsuit against the city which the ACLU is taking care of. I would suggest becoming a member of the ACLU and donating to them so that they can continue standing up for everyone's civil rights.

      • by evilviper (135110)

        I would suggest becoming a member of the ACLU and donating to them so that they can continue standing up for everyone's civil rights.

        I wouldn't. Not that they don't do good stuff, and they certainly trumpet it on their front-page. But it isn't until you're a member that you start getting the full story. It seems the overwhelming majority of their cases are dedicated to suing every municipality that doesn't immediately take down any even vaguely religious symbol that someone else put on anything that eve

  • by Crashmarik (635988) on Friday June 13, 2014 @09:21PM (#47234293)

    punishment for officials who abuse their power. Sort of a use your enemies to fight each other strategy

    • by Quixote (3389561)
      And they will be quick to point out that the mayor has merely taken his cue from America's leading criminal-satire case, celebrated almost in the manner of a witch-hunt in New York and on "bible" blogs around the country. See the documentation at: http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpr... [wordpress.com] Despite being widely reported on in the press, the case — including the dissenting opinion (on free speech grounds, figure that) of the chief judge of the New York's highest court — has been largely ignored by legal
  • by sinij (911942) on Friday June 13, 2014 @09:22PM (#47234303) Journal
    This is open-and-shut case, and the only question is what the settlement and payout to Jonathan Daniel would be.
    • by JMJimmy (2036122)

      I don't think it is open and shut... perhaps for illegal search but they detained him legally, I believe, and released him without charge. The question is whether they had grounds to detain him. He can claim parody but there's not much indication of that. He used actual pictures of the man, made slanderous statements, and may have made claims to be the real mayor (not sure on this as I've not read the tweets). Very little of it seems parody-like from what I've read. I'll bet there will be a counter sui

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        the question is not if they had grounds to detain him. You can FIND grounds to detain anyone. Searching his phone without a warrant though is (should be) serious trouble. The cops should have known better. And if you'd seen the tweets, it was pretty obvious this was NOT the mayor.... I think it has good standing as Parody, but IANAL.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        they detained him legally, I believe, and released him without charge

        False arrests need to be treated as felonies and the police responsible need to be placed in prison like other felons.

        With all of the thousands and thousands of laws which were designed to allow police and 'officials' to create charges out of thin air, none of them applied to this person. This person did absolutely nothing wrong in the eyes of the law, yet an armed paramilitary wing of the city government came to kick his door in. The problem with this paramilitary wing coming to kidnap you is that they h

    • by PJ6 (1151747)

      This is open-and-shut case, and the only question is what the settlement and payout to Jonathan Daniel would be.

      Normal people aren't allowed to pay their way out of jail for their crimes.

      Why are there settlements instead of sentences when a business or any other type of organization is involved?

  • According to Aristotle it's OK to do stuff like this. Make a person look like an ass because they do ass-like things in a public place. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] No due process in the streets.
  • by dbc (135354) on Friday June 13, 2014 @10:26PM (#47234545)

    Section 1983 lawsuits for deprivation of civil rights under color of authority allows piercing the immunity of public officers and going after their personal assets. In this case, the mayor, and any of the police that participated. Their. Personal. Assets. Not the taxpayers.
    http://legal-dictionary.thefre... [thefreedictionary.com]

    • by guygo (894298)
      wonderful. that would be the only way to stop them, and it is certainly appropriate. and thank you for the education. I had no idea they could lose their OWN shirt. excellent.
    • by raymorris (2726007) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @02:21AM (#47235125)

      Also section 242 makes it a crime to violate someone's civil rights under color of law, with sentences ranging from one year to the death penalty.

      During settlement negotiations, his lawyer could mention that she has an appointment with federal prosecutors to discuss the case. The mayor, judge, and chief of police may sell their houses and cars to pay a settlement which makes the Curtin happy enough that he doesn't feel the need to press for a federal criminal case.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        What warrants the death penalty? Using the color of the law to get someone wrongly executed?

        • Here is the statute. Notice the race stuff is surrounded by the word "or" twice. That has been held to mean it applies if your rights or violated OR if you are punished on the basis of race.

          Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punish

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I would guess that if the victim dies while being harassed ("stop resisting! stop resisting!" and dies [policestateusa.com]).

        • by dbc (135354)

          The Civil Rights Act of 1871 was signed by President Grant to deal with the Klan and others in the aftermath of the civil war. So, yeah, if the sheriff is at the front of the pack wearing a white sheet when somebody gets hanged for trying to vote, that might get the death penalty for the sheriff.

    • That was exactly my thought when I saw the paragraphs seven through 12 containing : "He is sued in his individual capacity," with section 12 using a plural instead of singular for the two defendants. Section 13 likely has a bearing on the "individual capacity" in case the judge finds they were not acting under "color of right" although I am not schooled in Illinois law. I do know that the state has incarcerated a sizable percentage of recent governors, but I do not know the statistics on former mayors.

  • Left something out (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Friday June 13, 2014 @10:52PM (#47234609) Homepage Journal

    Why does the summary not mention the name of the mayor? It's pertinent, no?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It is starting to look like this wasn't just a case of going after j random twitter user.
    Instead, it was probably an attempt to discredit the local newspaper. [vice.com]

    I bet he had a bug up his ass about the newspaper for some story they wrote in the past and so he convinced himself that the anonymous twitter user was really this reporter and that if he could expose the guy he would get even with the paper. That would totally explain why he had such an over-the-top reaction to the parody, he was already primed and l

  • by Anonymous Coward

    One of the surest signs of democracy is the open right to complain. Specifically about either elected public officials, public policy, or any business or person that has failed to live up to promises or contracts. The antithesis of this: the surest sign for a non-democracy is the objection to complaints directed towards either elected public officials, public policy, or any business or person that has failed to live up to promises or contracts. Clearly with the arrest of this man for bringing public scor

  • Given the genius level of legal reasoning in Peoria, I wonder if the defense will try and contact the judge by email and tell them that the city should be protected from financial liability because of taxes.
  • Arresting a man for parodying a local politician on Twitter sounds incredibly stupid. I'm glad the politician in question did the right thing and resigned after that, and if I were the blogger in question, I'd stop being vindictive and make peace with the politician. Hopefully, he can later help pass a law protecting people similar to him from future abuse while remaining on good terms with his target of criticism.

    As a citizen and resident of Israel, I should note that something like that seems highly un

  • You can help by showing that this Mayor Ardis is prone to making unwise choices. He released a press conference where he actually read some of the tweets aloud, and this video is on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    I think people know what needs to be done.

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