Politics
1:57 pm
Fri April 22, 2011

Terry Jones in court, arguing for right to protest

Update 1:57

Judge Mark Somers gave the jury instructions on how to evaluate the prosecutor's case against Terry Jones. The trial will decide whether Jones is allowed to hold an anti-Muslim rally outside the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn.

The jurors are to evaluate whether Jones is likely to breach the peace or not.

The jury's decision must be unanimous.

Update 11:52 a.m.

The trial is on recess. The parties and the jury are to return at 1 p.m.

During the trial Terry Jones cross examined a police officer saying he knows of 5 people from his church who are coming, so he shouldn't have to pay for the extra security at his rally.

The police officer responded saying based on all the attention to the rally, and based on his experience, there will be large crowds at the rally.

Interestingly - the court stenographer is wearing a hijab, a traditional head covering worn by Muslim women.

Jones fires handgun

Just to add to the chaos surrounding Terry Jones' visit to Michigan, police report that Jones' handgun went off  while visiting a television studio last night.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Controversial Pastor Terry Jones accidentally fired his .40-caliber handgun while he was at a Southfield television studio Thursday night, according to police.

The outspoken pastor, 59, of Gainesville, Fla., was getting in the passenger side of his car at 11:10 p.m. after an interview when the Taurus handgun went off, sending a bullet into the floorboard, Southfield Police Lt. Nick Loussia said today.

Police took Jones' gun and a gun of a man traveling with Jones from Florida. Both were carrying Florida concealed weapons permits, so the guns were returned to them.

9:32 a.m.

Terry Jones is making a statement before a Michigan court this morning. He is arguing that he should have a right to hold a rally in front of a Mosque in Dearborn without having to pay fees. The city of Dearborn says Jones should pay fees to help offset the costs of security around his rally.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody was at the court yesterday. Carmody reported:

The pastor complains the trial itself is an attempt to deny him his constitutional rights.  Pastor Terry Jones insists he won’t burn a copy of the Qur’an as he has done in the past during his planned rally outside the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn.  Still, Wayne County officials worry his protest may spark violence.   The city of Dearborn denied his permit request.

The Detroit Free Press reports on the scene at the trial:

Both sporting Harley-Davidson T-shirts, Pastors Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp waited inside a Dearborn courthouse for the start of an unusual trial that could determine whether they can rally today in front of the largest mosque in the United States.

Supporters and opponents, Christian and Muslim, are in the courtroom. A director with the the ACLU of Michigan, Rana Elmir, is also attending the hearing as an observer.

You can follow the Free Press' live blog.

And you can watch the trial on Fox 2 News.