Jury to hear Schmidt-Dickens case in November

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

A federal jury is slated to decide Nov. 4 whether former Mayor E. Dana Dickens III violated a resident’s First Amendment rights during a February City Council meeting.

U.S. District Court Judge Henry C. Morgan Jr. has tossed out three of four charges that northern Suffolk resident Leroy Schmidt, a frequent critic of city lawmakers, had filed against Dickens. Schmidt filed the lawsuit after Dickens had him

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removed from the speaker’s podium after he criticized, during the public comment portion of the meeting, Dickens’ use of city funds.

Last week, Morgan dismissed charges that Schmidt had been falsely arrested and that his Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable seizure had been violated.

In June, Morgan threw out a charge accusing Dickens of defaming Schmidt.

Schmidt’s lawyer, Stephen Merrill, said his client will press forward with the remaining charge that his right to free speech was violated.

&uot;We are very satisfied,&uot; said Merrill. &uot;This has always been a case primarily about free speech anyway. The other stuff was window dressing.&uot;

A jury trial is being requested because an elected official is involved, Merrill said.

Schmidt is seeking $100,000 in legal fees and courts costs.