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Thu October 6, 2011
Terry Jones appeal argued in Michigan court
The free speech case of a controversial Florida Pastor best known for burning the Quran has started in Wayne County.
A jury found Terry Jones guilty of breaching the peace in April. Dearborn police arrested him before he could proceed with an anti-Islamic protest outside the country’s largest mosque on Good Friday.
Jones wants that decision reversed. He also wants the court to lift an ongoing injunction that bars him from protesting in that spot.
Jones’s lawyer, Robert Muise of the Thomas More Law Center, says both are violations of Jones’s right to free speech.
“These whole proceedings, we believe, are unconstitutional. His rights are being continually violated by this injunction. I think the judge acknowledges that. And you know, this thing never should have happened from the beginning.”
Wayne County prosecutors say Jones’s protest could have incited violence.
But Muise says that reasoning is unconstitutional.
“The constitutional response isn’t to stop the speaker,” Muise says. “It’s to prevent those that want to interfere with the speech. So the government got it backwards.”
Prosecutors also argue the location would have caused traffic and other logistical problems on Good Friday, and note Jones could have demonstrated in a designated “free speech zone.”
A Judge is set to decide the case next month.