In Ohio, a man was sentenced to 240 days in jail for simply expressing his First Amendment rights. The man was jailed for nine months for warning people of DUI checkpoints in Ohio. Holding a “turn here to avoid DUI checkpoint sign”, he was arrested. He had been warning drivers of upcoming DUI checkpoints by holding up signs advising there was a checkpoint, and videotaping police in public from a June, 2014 incident.
Police officer, James Manzo, approached the man, Mr. Odolecki and stated that informing motorist to “turn now” was obstructing police business. Of course Odolecki disagreed and refused to stop warning drivers of the checkpoint. For his refusal he was issued a charge of obstructing justice and the police confiscated his sign.
Douglas “Deo” Odolecki of Cleveland Cop Block, took his case to trial, and was whisked away to jail immediately after the trial upon being sentenced. He was remanded into custody to start his sentence immediately..
His attorney, John Gold, has stated that he plans to file an appeal.
“The judge far exceeded her authority today,” he said in a telephone interview with the website Photography is Not a Crime, which sticks up for photographers by publicizing cases like this one.
“It’s clear she had her mind made up to sentence him to the maximum sentence possible, but she actually went overboard.”
Man jailed for nine months for warning people of DUI checkpoints is a headline I never thought I would see. The Bill of Rights, the first 10 Amendments to the US Constitution, include the First Amendment. That Amendment allows US Citizens to have the right of free speech, freedom of religion, and free assembly, and prohibits the government, through the police of other agencies, from impinging upon that right.
It’s hard to see how the appeals court could not find that a government agency, here the police, was infringing upon free speech. A sign carried by a citizen is the epitome of free speech, and the instructions to “turn here” to avoid the DUI checkpoint are certainly speech.
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