ORLANDO — Orange-Osceola State Attorney Lawson Lamar and Orange-Osceola Circuit Judge Jeffrey Arnold are both moving forward on a prosecution that has been barred by a Federal Judge.
Lamar and Arnold have chosen to openly defy a federal court injunction issued by the Chief Judge of the Northern Federal District of Florida Stephen J. Mickle that expressly prohibits any enforcement of the state’s now defunct statute regulating so-called “electioneering” political speech. Judge Mickle declared the statute to be an “unconstitutional restriction of the First Amendment” when he threw out the statute and declared it unconstitutional in a May 22, 2009 ruling.
In his 2009 ruling, Mickle stated, “Defendants, and their officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys, as well as those persons in active concert or participation with them are permanently enjoined from enforcing Florida’s
electioneering communications laws of Chapter 106, as listed above.”
Mickle, a highly respected Judge, enjoined the state from any enforcement of the statute. The State of Florida dropped its appeal of the ruling and the statute was removed from the law and no longer exists.
Orlando-based talk show host and Florida’s stop anti-tax crusader, Doug Guetzloe, was relieved to hear that the statute was declared unconstitutional and was pleased that longtime political opponent Lamar, a Democrat who Guetzloe calls the “most corrupt state attorney in Florida,” would have to drop his prosecution of Guetzloe for a misdemeanor violation of the state law that formally required a written disclaimer on all political literature. Guetzloe was prosecuted in 2006 for violating the now-defunct statute by failing to include a seven word disclaimer; “paid political advertisement approved by …” Guetzloe had published a police arrest report on a candidate who had invited his neighbor over to his house and then spread dog feces all over his neighbors face and neck. The candidate involved was charged with felony assault and battery and the police report was distributed to voters lacking the disclaimer due to a printer’s error. The felony charges were dropped by State Attorney Lamar, a longtime friend of the candidate involved.
Guetzloe says, “I’m the only person in United States history charged criminally with not putting seven words on a political flyer.” Guetzloe also cites a “twenty year history of prosecution by longtime political nemesis Lamar” that includes dozens of investigations, charges and allegations, all disapproved or dropped.
The United States Supreme court has long held that the state has no interest in requiring political disclaimers from individuals who chose to become involved in the political process. In the landmark case, McIntyre vs. Ohio, the court ruled unconstitutional any state requirements of disclosure.
Judge Jeff Arnold, openly defying the federal court order has sentenced Guetzloe to sixty days in jail and a $1000 fine for the unique misdemeanor charge that no longer exists in the statutes.
Arnold has scheduled a “sentencing hearing” on Thursday, April 28th ostensibly to continue the prosecution of the statute that no longer exists and order Guetzloe to jail.
Constitutional attorney Frederic B. O’Neal has filed an emergency motion with the Federal court to alert Judge Mickle to this violation of his order.
“This is a small price to pay for defending the First Amendment, but to have the spectacle of being ordered to jail over a statute that has been declared unconstitutional by a federal judge by a local judge and a state attorney both enjoined from moving forward, is clearly a miscarriage of justice,” Guetzloe said.
Gov. Rick Scott is reviewing the case for possible gubernatorial intervention.