Dickens vs. Schmidt should have been avoided

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 12, 2004

We suppose it’s a good thing for the citizens of Suffolk that a federal jury on Tuesday ruled in favor of former Mayor E. Dana Dickens III in defense of suit by City Council gadfly Leroy Schmidt.

Schmidt claimed then-Mayor Dickens violated his 1st Amendment right to free speech by cutting off his remarks during a late appearance at a February council meeting. Dickens told Schmidt to have a seat, that his time at the podium was ending early that night.

Despite the ruling, we still contend Dickens was not on solid ground.

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Perhaps Schmidt’s rights were not violated; nonetheless, the contention that Schmidt’s remarks were stopped because of &uot;what he might have said,&uot; is troubling and amounts basically to someone being punished for something that might have happened as opposed to what actually occurred.

Further, it’s unfortunate that this thing went as far as it did. A simple meeting and calm discussion might have saved a lot of time and expense.