California Christians Found ‘Not Guilty’ of Reading Bible Near Gov’t Offices

A court has said that a pair of Christians were “allowed” to read the Bible aloud outside the Department of Motor Vehicles in Hemet, California. Wasn’t it kind of the government courts in California to say that these Christians were allowed to have their rights to free religious expression?

Back in 2011 Mark Mackey and Bret Coronado were arrested and charged with misdemeanor offenses for reading the Bible outside the DMV location.

But on August 13, Superior Court Judge Timothy Freer found the men “not guilty” of any offenses.

Prosecutors had to prove that the men needed a permit for their Bible reading, but were not able to make that case.

According to a full report at Advocates for Faith and Freedom,

In order for the prosecution to prove that a permit was required under Title 13, Section 1860 of the California Administrative Code, it was required to prove that the defendants were engaged in a “demonstration or gathering” as defined in Section 1851. Judge Freer ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prove that the men conducted either a “demonstration or gathering.” Both definitions require that the conduct of defendants was such that it had “the effect, intent or propensity to draw a crowd or onlookers” and the prosecution couldn’t prove that to be the case.

“The prosecution failed to meet its burden of proof that our clients committed a crime when they read the Bible aloud in front a line of people,” said AFF attorney Robert Taylor.

Interestingly, the judge also pointed out that the law prosecutors tried to invoke was likely unconstitutional as it gave law enforcement overbroad powers to quash public gatherings in the first place. Sadly, this case did not go toward settling the constitutionality of the law, but it was a victory of sorts to have the judge even mention the fact.

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  • 914


  • Score one for the First Amendment.

    • Retired military

      In Kalifornia no less.

  • LiberalNightmare

    So the city of Hemet tried to deny these men their civil rights.

    Seems like the sort of thing that should be investigated.

  • Lawrence Westlake

    Well, it’s not as if there’s any hard crime, blight, poverty, fiscal problems or unemployment in Riverside County (Hemet), so this prosecution makes sense. Wait, what? More seriously this simply is part and parcel of the big U.S. decline. We’ve had dumb prosecutions in decades past. But back then we still were numero uno and by a long shot. Pretty soon, however, we’ll completely have devolved into a de facto 3rd-world banana republic. Politics has consequences.

  • Commander_Chico

    This permit BS is out of control.

    You apply for a permit, and then they present you with an exorbitant bill for cops, which includes overtime, because they use cops off-shift.

    First Amendment does not say anything about permits.

    • jim_m

      somebody has hacked Chico’s account because he is starting to talk sense.

      • Commander_Chico

        Chico always talks sense.

        • Okay, how about more ‘sense we find sensible’?

        • Thinking about it, I wonder if you haven’t reached a tipping point that’s caused a phase change in your self-perceived ‘sensibility’…. as in “Shit, those bozos I was supporting are REALLY a hell of a lot more stupid than I was giving them credit for, and they’re fucking over the line on a lot of stuff that I was making fun of others about complaining about…”

          • Commander_Chico

            I’ve been consistent on freedom of expression and association.

            Anti-war, anti-police state. Not any major party in the USA for me.

          • jim_m

            Anti police state, except when it is obama in which case you have been remarkably consistent in defending his actions and blaming them on Bush (or the Jooos).

          • Give the man his due. Deprogramming doesn’t happen in one night, after all.

          • He’s getting his due.

          • Retired military

            Antipolice state means that groups he agrees with like OWS can break laws, destroy private property, and in general create chaos with his blessing.
            Not any major party means voting for Obama twice.

          • Commander_Chico

            I voted for Obama in 2008, not last time.

          • I see, you didn’t get fooled this time. Good for you.

          • Jwb10001

            That’s in accurate you voted for Obama by wasting your vote on Gary Johnson, something you should be ashamed of.

    • jim_m

      Finally, we have found a post from Chico that Bruce will not vote up.

  • GarandFan

    Evidently someone in Hemet has a lot of free time on their hands.

    • jim_m

      I would argue that there are some police officers and a prosecutor that deserve to have a great deal more free time in the future.

  • Paul Hooson

    It certainly shouldn’t be a crime of any sort. But, can government really legislate good common sense here? What’s the point of standing around outside a DMV office reading The Bible or any other book for that matter? – And would it show good common sense to read a copy of HUSTLER Magazine while standing in line at the DMV to pass the time away waiting to be served. Is that legal, or some “crime” against public order or public decency. – Recently, Dawn Hawkins of Morality In Media made a big scene on some airplane flight because she noticed some guy watching some S&M porn on this own computer and caused a scene on the plane. The other passengers told her to shutup and mind her own business, as they didn’t seem to care what some guy does to pass the time on the plane, but hated her disturbance on the flight, which made them feel uncomfortable. She’s the person who came closest to an arrest here, not the guy who couldn’t wait to watch his porn in private. – The rule of thumb seems to not be annoying here. Were these Bible guys annoying to others here, hoping to make a public scene? It seems like The Bible isn’t really on trial here, just good public sense how to conduct oneself.

    • jim_m

      can government really legislate good common sense here?

      Yes, Paul, there have been many governments that have legislated “common sense”. I am sure that you are not going to advocate a totalitarian police state like the USSR, or East Germany where people who think differently are committed to asylums for “antisocial” behavior.

      Then again, maybe you do think that is the right idea.

      There is no right to not be offended. You offend me and I offend you, but that does not make either of us a criminal and nor should it.

      • Paul Hooson

        Looking at things, it appears to be some sort of public gathering event without a permit and nothing involving the issue of bringing religion to the doorstep of a government office. There’s no religious freedom issue at stake here. I’m sure these guys could calmly distribute WATCHTOWER or talk about faith with persons on the street with no issue. It was the attempt tom hold some sort of public demonstration without a permit, when some cop should have told the guys to get a permit and come back, and left it at that- I’m no fan of city governments and all of their various rules. – In many cities you cannot even have garage sales without permission of the police or government, and that includes in Southern states cities like in Tenn or Texas. – Some cities don’t even allow a housewife to buy a vibrator, because government is so much in control of the people. – Government is way too big and intrusive in people’s lives. These arrests were wrong. But, it was also a lack of good common sense on the part of these guys as well as the arresting officer here. – If people really want smaller, less intrusive government, then actually elect people who start removing laws from the books and set people free.

        • jim_m

          As even Chico observes that requiring a permit for all public invocations of the 1st amendment right to freedom of speech is to eliminate it as a right entirely.

          While most of us would recognize a difference between that and a demonstration drawing hundreds or thousands of participants this barely filled a sidewalk. Your definition would require every striking union to obtain a government permit for every picket line and every protest.

          Alas that you are too ignorant to figure out that government control of speech ultimately means government suppression of speech and ideas. But then again, perhaps that really is what you would prefer, foolishly assuming that the government would agree with what you think is acceptable.

          Stop putting the responsibility on the person exercising their constitutional rights. Every time you say that they should have had more sense you are saying that they had no right to speak. Either you have a right to speak or you don not. Common sense and whether someone gets offended have nothing to do with my right to speak. Sadly, I am not surprised that you think it is OK to suppress speech in this manner.

          • Paul Hooson

            I don’t think that a couple of guys should have to get a permit either. That’s too small. The officer should have observed that this was just a couple of Bible screwballs and moved on to the serious stuff. I was a stupid judgement call on his part- But, larger events that could result in public disturbances such as here in Portland, OR where rock throwing, looting, etc. have resulted after anarchists or occupy-types have resulted in voilence, should probably require organizers to post a bond when there is a strong possibility of damage taking place. City ordinances should be better able to discern against Bible tract pushers and political groups where problems can result. – At any rate, I have a half million dollar business deal riding on my work this weekend. I need to devote my energy there. I’m mostly a businessman who posts something on Wizbang Pop or comment when I find something interesting or have the time. Today, I’m a busy guy. – Agreed, the arrest of those Bible tract guys wasn’t justified. Case closed. – I’m now on to the next thing…

          • jim_m

            While I think that these idiotic anarchists need to have the book thrown at them I also think that their actions are not the result of those speaking. These people come to the protests looking to cause trouble, nothing the speaker says changes that. If you foolishly decide to punish people for speaking ideas that others choose to support with violence then you choose to suppress their speech unconstitutionally.

            Throwing rocks, rioting and vandalizing and looting stores is illegal regardless. If the words spoken really incite the action then the speaker should be punished. However, I do not believe that you can legally preempt someone’s rights on the basis that they might incite someone.

            The law doesn’t work the way you would like it to and for good reason.

    • Vagabond661

      Common sense laws? Seat belt laws come to mind.

    • jim_m

      Some would say that helmet laws are common sense and yet motorcyclists fight against them tooth and nail.

      “Common sense” is just another way of saying that the government knows how to live your life better than you do.

      • Paul Hooson

        No, I said that government can’t legislate good sense. Some idiot decides to create a loud disturbance outside a public place, and then someone gets annoyed and calls the cops. – How can you legislate against people who want to get loud in public places? You can’t really. – Some guy that used to get drunk and loud at one time who used to be all messed up on alcohol now wants the world to know that he’s now all messed up on the Lord and gets loud about that in the name of “witnessing”. – He’s not a public safety threat or anything. Just annoying to many others.

  • LiberalNightmare

    I don’t know if it matters or not, but does anyone else think that the arresting officer seems to be a bit … flamboyant?

  • Let it be a Godless Infidel Muslim reading the hateful Koran and not a word would have been said. I am sick of this country not standing up to this Usurper Regime, bunch of lazy pussies.
    These corrupted gene pool nasty rag heads can roam around our country and people are tolerant of them. What for, pray tell? GRRRRRRRRRRR

  • Looks like Putin is not fooled , by the Usurper, as he said: Hey O, “looks like I need to arm the Christians.” You bet ya!