JAX Judge Rescinds Unconstitutional Order in Wake of PINAC Lawsuit

Carlos Miller

Jacksonville Judge Rescinds Unconstitutional Order in Wake of PINAC Lawsuit

The North Florida Chief Circuit Judge who issued an unconstitutional order barring citizens from video recording the outside of a Jacksonville courthouse, prompting national criticism along with a federal lawsuit from PINAC, has rescinded his order.

Fourth Circuit Chief Judge Mark Mahon rescinded his order Wednesday, two days after a former Jacksonville judgefrom the same circuit agreed to join PINAC in its lawsuit, further embarrassing the rookie chief judge among his peers.

In his latest order, Mahon explains that he issued the initial order banning photography and protests outside the courthouse in order to ensure “a fair trial” for defendants that he does not name.

We know he never intended for PINAC correspondent Michale Hoffman to have a fair trial because he did everything in his power to ensure he did not receive a fair trial, including banning our videographers from recording the trial as well as banning Hoffman from using the First Amendment as his defense in what was obviously a First Amendment case.

To be precise, it was Duval County Judge Brent Shore who prevented us from recording the trial as well as preventing Hoffman from using the First Amendment as his defense, but Mahon is the chief administer of the Duval, Clay and Nassau County courts, so he approved the decisions.

And it was Mahon who issued the order banning videography and protests in front of the Duval County Courthouse, an act that was met with ridicule by national and local websites.

Mahon’s decision means we will withdraw our lawsuit, a decision made by our attorney, Andrew Bonderud, who could have pushed for attorney fees, but decided against it.

However, it does not address the fact that we were forbidden from recording Hoffman’s trial, even though the Florida Supreme Court established that right in 1979.

That’s an issue that was not addressed in our lawsuit because it’s a separate issue from the judge’s unconstitutional order.

That’s an issue that needs to be resolved and will be resolved.

Hoffman ended up convicted, which was not surprising considering they did not allow him a proper defense; a conviction he is appealing with the help of Bonderud.

Initially, Hoffman’s misdemeanor trespassing trial was of no interest to the local media, but they all became interested after Judge Mahon issued his initial order banning protests and videography in front of the courthouse.

In fact, they all scooped us on this story, which is fine with us. We appreciate the coverage from the Florida Times-Union, First Coast News and News4Jax.

The local media was even preparing its own legal battle against Mahon, knowing they would be next in line if he was allowed to continue violating PINAC’s First Amendment rights.

The rescission comes after representatives from five media outlets, including WJCT and News4Jax, met with Judge Mahon on Tuesday to voice their concerns about the restrictions.
First-Amendment Lawyer, George Gabel spearheaded the fight against the order.
Gabel said, “It was an issue that brought together all the major news media on an issue that’s important to their ability to inform the public about courthouse proceedings even though they’re competitors in the news business.”

We had planned a protest against the order for Monday, which will continue as scheduled, only now it will be more of a celebration, so everybody is welcome to join us. RSVP here.

Earlier today, PINAC reporters Jeff Gray and Thomas Covenent aka Epic Old Guy returned to the same spot in front of the courthouse where they had been previously threatened with arrest for video recording.

But this time, the cops greeted them with handshakes.



War on Photography