Judge Burns felt that his, his children's and his family's safety was threatened with the defendant's father's letter, but did not recuse and instead denied the child the youthful offender's status that the child was entitled to and sent the mentally ill child to a maximum security adult prison for 11 years.
The father wanted to demonstrate in front of the judge's home, the local ordinance required to put in the actual address where the demonstration will be held, in order to apply for a permit.
The father went to the judge's residence and knocked on the door to verify whether it was the judge's address. The judge's wife answered the door, confirmed it was the judge's residence and told the father to leave. The father apologized and left.
For that, the father was charged, on the judge's complaint, with harassment in criminal court. The criminal proceeding was dismissed on 1st Amendment free speech grounds, but the father, as I understand, was not able to hold his planned demonstration in front of Judge Burns' home.
Recently, because of a protest in front of a State Senator's residence in the town of West Depford, New Jersey.
The town of West Depford tried to introduce an ordinance that would prohibit demonstrations other than 100 feet away from a residence, with the following restrictions:
- not more than 10 people;
- once every 2 weeks,
In this country, there are cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court dedicated to the 1st Amendment freedom of speech and association that will make your blood boil.
They seem to be grossly unfair to the victims of offensive expression.
Yet, the U.S. Supreme Court doggedly supported freedom of speech over hurt feelings, even in situations where the speech was grossly, extremely offensive. The U.S. Supreme Court's message was always - that those who were offended should simply look the other way, because the core of speech is protected content, political expression.
With the determination to protect the constitutional freedom of speech and assembly, the U.S. Supreme Court:
- disregarded the feelings of Holocaust survivors and their families by allowing a march of "national socialists" (fascists) through their town;
- disregarded the feelings of African Americans as to the history of lynching by repeatedly striking down criminal statutes for cross-burning in front of residences of African Americans, see here and here;
- disregarded the feelings of mourners of fallen soldiers who died protecting this country who were confronted with hateful speech right at their loved one's funerals.
If SUCH feelings under SUCH circumstances were disregarded on 1st Amendment grounds, the mere displeasure of a judge and his wife as to a picket on a public sidewalk in front of the judge's residence, where there were no safety issues involved whatsoever (Tony Pacherille verified the address, Judge Burns' wife told him to leave, he left, the Chief of Police called, Tony Pacherille said he will not come TO the residence again, meaning on the judge's property).
Tony Pacherille could still walk the public street where the Judge's house was located. As a taxpayer, Tony Pacherille was paying for upkeep of that street and was entitled to walk it.
There is nothing more protected as political protest in front of a residence of a public official.
To any reasonable observer, it would be clear that Holocaust survivors would feel threatened by a march of fascists through their town.
To any reasonable observer, it would be clear that an African American family would be more than alarmed and threatened by a burning cross on their lawn - and, by the way, their lawn was PRIVATE property, so a trespass was involved, too.
Here, Tony Pacherille planned a peaceful picketing outside a judge's residence on a public sidewalk.
If there are no safety issues involved - and in Tony Pacherille's case there were none, as the criminal court subsequently concluded - such a protest should have been allowed.