It was a short lived celebration yesterday for Douglas Gilford of Quartzsite, Arizona. On the eve of the Fourth of July, he had just won a victory for the Constitution and the rule of law. But the incumbents in the Town, along with their crony judge, continued their brazen disregard for the constitution and misused the law for their personal gain.
Earlier in the day, after eleven long months, a visiting judge finally vindicated Gilford of sixteen false criminal charges brought against him by the incumbents in the Town. But a few hours after all the charges against Gilford were dismissed, the Town's judge, Quartzsite Municipal Judge Lawrence King, issued an ex parte Injunction against Gilford preventing him from exercising the same constitutional rights the visiting judge had ratified earlier!
That's the way things are in Quartzsite. Earlier in May, a majority of the people voted to oust the incumbents in power. But the people's celebration was also short lived when the incumbents brazenly misused the law to stay in power.
Gilford is one of five so-called "self-styled activists" the Town has identified and targeted for retribution because he dare speak out against the incumbents. As a result, he had been charged with multiple counts of "harassment," primarily for videotaping public officials in Townhall, which, like videotaping cops, has been deemed a First Amendment right. But the incumbents in Quartzsite don't like the First Amendment and don't like being videotaped.
Three charges were so baseless they were dropped early. (Gilford could admit to the allegations and still have not committed a crime.) After Gilford's attorney showed the visiting judge that videotaping public officials is a protected right, and proved in court that the Town manager arbitrarily posted a "No videotaping" sign in Townhall, the judge dismissed the remaining criminal charges against Mr. Gilford. Nevertheless, hours after this victory, an angry Al Johnson, the Town's Assistant Manager, ran to Judge King, the Town's judge, to bring a civil charge of harassment against Gilford!
Despite the visiting judge's ruling only hours before that Mr. Gilford had not harassed anyone, and despite the fact that Judge King had been kicked off Gilford's criminal case for bias only weeks before, Judge King issued an ex parte Injunction against Gilford, prohibiting him from contact with any Town employee. Or from entering Townhall! (With or without his camera.) Technically, Mr. Gilford can't even call 911 now!
So now Mr. Gilford has another fight on his hands. Just for being a patriotic citizen.
There's not much independence to celebrate this 4th of July in Quartzsite, Arizona.