Friday, November 20, 2009

Court rules in Thomas v. City of Apalachicola

At the City of Apalachicola’s regular meeting held Nov 3, City Attorney Pat Floyd told commissioners that the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida had ruled in favor of the city in the Sherman Thomas v. City of Apalachicola case.

Floyd also told commissioners that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit had recently affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

Thomas, who attended the Nov 3 meeting, stood and told commissioners that he was appealing the Court of Appeals ruling. “As far as that dismissal, I just want to let you know that it has been appealed to the United States Supreme Court under a Writ of Certiorari.” Thomas said.

A Petition for Writ of Certiorari is where someone is dissatisfied with the ruling of the Court of Appeals and requests that the U.S. Supreme Court review the decision of the lower court. The Supreme Court can refuse to take the case. In fact, the Court receives thousands of "Cert Petitions" per year, and denies all but about one hundred. If there’s a compelling reason, the Court will accept the case, and then grant a Writ of Certiorari.

In his suit before the trial court, Thomas alleged that the city violated his First Amendment rights by refusing to allow him to maintain a structure on City Property.

In early 2007, without the benefit of a permit Thomas constructed a gallows on the city right-of-way displaying what appeared to be a man dressed in a Progress Energy uniform hanging from a rope in effigy underneath the American Flag.

Thomas also claimed that the city violated his First Amendment rights by refusing to place him on the city commission meeting agenda, although then Mayor Boyd “Sandy” Howze allowed Thomas to address the commission during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Thomas further alleged that the City violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection by towing a vehicle that he had stored on the city’s right-of-way and that the city failed to install a requested “Children at Play” sign in his neighborhood near his residence.

Sometimes acting as his own attorney, Thomas is no stranger to filing lawsuits. In late 2006 he filed with the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) a Petition for Relief against his former employer Progress Energy for an alleged unlawful employment practice.

In his final order, Administrative Law Judge P. Michael Ruff recommended that the FCHR dismiss the matter against Progress Energy because Thomas failed to file his complaint in a timely manner.

Thomas also filed suit against the Franklin County School District over issues relating to the school district’s consolidation of the new school in the Eastpoint community. The courts dismissed that suit as well.

When Thomas is not filling lawsuits, he attends local city, county, and school board meetings, where in 2007 he attended the Franklin County Board of County Commissioners April 3 meeting, and asked commissioners to eliminate the Sheriff Department’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program, and to stop spending money on ballparks. Thomas also asked the county to look into alleged racial problems at the County Landfill after an African-American worker received disciplinary actions for a repeated rule violation.

At the School Board Jan 10, 2008 meeting, during the public remarks portion on the agenda Thomas outlined a list of complaints just as he did at the recent Nov 3, 2009 City of Apalachicola meeting.

No comments:

Post a Comment