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4/22/2012 6:00:00 AM
Fried appeals F-word case to higher court
Mervin Fried
Mervin Fried

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - Mervin Fried is once again appealing his case to a higher court.

Fried was escorted from the County Administration Building and arrested for misdemeanor trespassing in August after wearing a shirt to a Board of Supervisors meeting with an obscenity on it. He maintained that he was trying to express his opinion of the Board's decision to increase the county tax rate.

He was convicted of trespassing in February.

Fried's attorney, Eric Engan, filed an appeal Wednesday in the Kingman/Cerbat Justice Court.

In his appeal, Engan argued that the court incorrectly interpreted the First Amendment and the Arizona Constitution when it convicted Fried.

Engan said Fried's case is similar to the 1971 U.S. Supreme Court Case Cohen v. California.

In Cohen, a man argued that his First Amendment rights to free speech was infringed when a California courthouse guard arrested him because he refused to remove his jacket, which had an obscenity printed on it. The Supreme Court found in favor of Cohen.

Just like Cohen, Fried never said anything, shouted or actively disrupted the Board meeting. He merely walked into the Board of Supervisors auditorium and sat down with his T-shirt on. He was asked at least twice by Security Coordinator Bob Prince to change his shirt or turn it inside out or leave the Board auditorium. Each time Fried declined to do so.

Prince warned Fried again just after the Board meeting started to leave or change his shirt or he would be arrested for trespassing.

When Fried declined again, Prince had two Mohave County deputies escort Fried out of the auditorium and into a hallway where he was asked again to leave or change his shirt. Fried again declined and said he wanted to return to the meeting. At that point, deputies arrested him.

Engan also argues in the appeal that the court failed to properly apply the Arizona Constitution's right to free speech. He pointed out that the state requires a law curbing freedom of speech to meet three tests.

First, the government must prove there is a compelling interest in controlling speech, such as in the case of public safety, public health or protects other constitutional freedoms.

Second, it must show that the law furthers that particular interest and third, it must not place an undue burden on speech.

Engan argues that the county's dress code policy violates all three tests. The county's argument that it is trying to protect the decorum of the Board meetings does not qualify as a compelling interest.

Second, even if the dress code met the first test there have been no previous incidents that would demonstrate a need to regulate clothing worn at a Board meeting.

Third, the policy is an undue burden on Fried's speech. Engan stated in the appeal that "I oppose the tax," or "Down with the tax" does not have the same impact as what was written on Fried's shirt.

He also pointed out that Fried did not yell anything, the statement was not directed at any one person and in this case, the word was not obscene or erotic, nor could it be considered "fighting words."

Fighting words are statements that could inflame someone to act physically against another person, create a panic or endanger others, such as shouting "fire" in a crowded movie theater.

Engan also pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court found that free speech also includes speech that others may find offensive.

ICT - Kingman Honda
Related Stories:
• Judge nixes new hearing on Kingman man's obscene T-shirt
• Kingman 'F word' protester gets fine

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Article comment by: Let's Not Blow F's Insensitive Act Out of Perspective

AzMac, now please try to stay on subject. The question is should the majority of citizens be forced to see offensive language at a public meeting. The BOS acted correctly. Just a shame we the citizens will be strapped with more legal costs.

Posted: Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Article comment by: Now Let's See How True Mr. F's Deeds Really Are

Brother Justin, excellent.

Posted: Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Article comment by: Frank Harris

Hopefully observers of this man understand he is not the common Kingman resident. At least I hope not.

I hope Mr. Fried understand that by stretching this on he continues to bring Kingman under bad light. And yes he does have freedom of speech - just not offensive speech.

Posted: Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Article comment by: Tee Shirt Speaks More About The Wearer Than An Expression of Free Speech

When I see offensive wording on clothing I see it as a reflection of the wearer.

It's just a shame a 7, 9, 15 year old, or a young lady, or a foreign tourist, must also be subjected to Mr. F's expression.

Posted: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Article comment by: grrrrrrrrr ............

I really don't think a pitchfork or a T-shirt emblazoned with the F word will bring the changes we need, but my point was that it is better than the patronising half-hearted drivel you find elsewhere. For example, my experience visiting churches is that all concern about government (or corporate) abuses is either ridiculed or avoided altogether. I would think Mervin would make a good official after properly appraising himself of the issues and strategic options facing Kingman's future. For the time being, his goals are probably unattainable in the context of people content with drivel.

Posted: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Article comment by: you got it

What Mervin and apparently some of you don't understand is: It's ok to be rebellious and independent(some say principled), but at some point you need to come down out of the clouds and deal with other people,and they may not see things as you do. How will you possibly get anything accomplished for the good of the order if you don't allow yourself to put things in perspective? I say again, you need the wisdom to know that which you can change.

Posted: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Article comment by: growling sheep .....

@Warren O....the English Government did not intercept all manner of private correspondence and conversation, did not raise taxes/fees 700% in a little over two years (Kingman's water/sewer fee increases), keep computerised databases on citizens, to be drawn upon in event of a walk around your block or any other occasion when you are entirely within your rights did not effectively block citizens from huge swaths of the job and housing markets based upon false allegations ("catch and release" arrests) and cases of entrapmment, and require the plethora of permits we experience today for any movement, project, idea, consumption, etc..... I might have preferred, ideally, for Mervin to have expressed these sentiments in a more genteel fashion, but the front or back of a T-shirt does not exactly lend itself to displays of lengthy, reasoned prose. Given the crimes which have been committed under colour of authority and more generally by other institutions of power, Mervin has my support. Maybe Napoleon said it best - "I would rather have an army of sheep led by a lion than an army of lions led by a sheep." Go ahead and growl there, Mervin. You're not alone. What good are these sensitive folk here accomplishing, anyways?

Posted: Monday, April 23, 2012
Article comment by: me, myself and I maybe yes, maybe no

@ Mervin Fried. "If" your any Representative, of the majority living in Mohave county. Your chance of winning a seat int the up coming election, are slim, to next to none. Oh, most would agree with your commitments to lower taxes ECT: I'm certain of that. But they won t vote that way.

Posted: Monday, April 23, 2012
Article comment by: Food 4 Thought

@ anonymous

Don't our currently elected officials do that all the time?

Posted: Monday, April 23, 2012
Article comment by: az mac

By the way folks the Republic is gone, the constitution is almost dead. I will say by the end of this year our country will no longer exist as a free country. We will have a dictator and you people will have nothing. Read the history of how Hitler took over Germany and this country has gone the very same way.
You have to get the government's permission to do most every thing today. Very little difference between us and China or Russia.

Posted: Monday, April 23, 2012
Article comment by: az mac

I see some people do not understand standing up for their rights, I see so many people who coward down to the government and take what ever the government hands out to them.
Mervin is one of the few who will stand up for our rights. The man knows the constitution and he knows when his rights have been taken away and willing to stand up and fight for them.
I suppose you people who are against Mervin just love the NDAA bill that allows the government to arrest you and jail you forever or kill you with no trial. I also bet you just love the anti protesting bill that makes it against the law to protest around any government building. The government does not want to hear your gripes, they just want their slaves to obey. Then how about the executive order that Obama just signed that allows his to take control of every thing, that means he can take all you own. It allows him to become a dictator. Homeland security just ordered 450 million bullets, activated and staffed all the FEMA camps.
Mervin is one of the few that will stand up to this stuff. You can just sit back and let the government rule your life or get off your lazy butts and fight back like Mervin.
People learn our constitution and our history. learn what rights and freedom you have lost in the last hundred years.
This country would not be on the verge of falling if there were more people like Mervin.

Posted: Monday, April 23, 2012
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

At first I though Joe "the plumer who was not really a plumer had moved to Kingman"! Well takes all kinds to make the world go around! I doubt this fellow has much chance of winning election, majority of folks laugh at folks who make fools of themselves in public!

Posted: Monday, April 23, 2012
Article comment by: Warren O

sheep must not growl..... -

'We rose up against the British for far less.'

Nonsense. The colonists up against the British after years of systematic profiteering and excessive regulations of all aspects of individual liberty.

It had absolutely nothing to do with the right to print the f-word on a T-shirt. Get some perspective before you paint Fried as the next Samuel Adams.

Posted: Monday, April 23, 2012
Article comment by: Desert Angel

If elected, will we be forced to wear T-shirts with this mans/ logo? Poor Kingman, if he is elected.

Posted: Monday, April 23, 2012
Article comment by: Tiersa Marie

Mr. Fried,

Kudos. Not may people are willing to stand up and fight for our rights. Sometimes it takes making a scene to get your point across. I wouldn't necessarily want the children in my life to see the obscenity on your shirt, but I understand the point. I do, however, wish people would quit stating that it is a "freedom of speech" exersize, when it's clear to me that it is freedom of expression. Of course, it IS their right to say it is freedom of speech if they choose to. Haha. The constitution is a beautiful thing, and we would not be able to live our lifes as freely as we do with the rights provided to us in the constitution without people like you taking a stand and sticking to it through adversity. For that, I say thank you.

Posted: Monday, April 23, 2012
Article comment by: Al DiCicco

$upport and Vote for Mervin and let's clean up this county of cronyism!

Posted: Monday, April 23, 2012
Article comment by: Brother Justin

Citizen Fried,

You should of worn the shirt in question to court so the judge could have decided if it was appropriate attire in a public venue.

Posted: Monday, April 23, 2012
Article comment by: Mervin Fried

Yes, "just a fact", I am running for District 4 Supervisor.
I will stand up to the "good old boys" and say "NO" to them. I will say "NO" to tax increases, when budgets need to be reviewed and cuts need to be made. I will vigorously defend your God given rights from government usurpation, up to and including arrest, incarceration, and public ridicule.
I am willing to surrender my freedom, willing to stand up to tyranny, and willing to guard, protect and defend this Republic, and the Constitution on which it is based.
I probably should get a better photo to the Miner for press releases too!
Please remember to vote August 28th!

Posted: Monday, April 23, 2012
Article comment by: please just

Go away... And NO I wont vote for you if your running for any office. A media hound like you has no interest in anyone except yourself.

Posted: Sunday, April 22, 2012
Article comment by: you got it

@ just a fact
You have it right. scary isn't it?
Can you imagine such an immature person trying to get respect for the office of supervisor at the same time trying to turn this County around?
Surely, we can do better. We have to.

Posted: Sunday, April 22, 2012
Article comment by: az mac

Mervin maybe this time you will get a judge that recognizes free speech as a right, not as a privilege that you have to ask permission to do.

Posted: Sunday, April 22, 2012
Article comment by: Desert Angel

How sad. This person needs to find a real hobby, besides trying to waste tax payers money on this nonsense.
Is this really what he wants to be remembered for? He must not have children or he should know better than wear something offensive in a public place.

Posted: Sunday, April 22, 2012
Article comment by: sheep must not growl.....

the wolvves find it to be distracting at mealtime, although their friends in Hollywood always appreciate the leftovers. But try standing on this before a judge. We rose up against the British for far less.

Posted: Sunday, April 22, 2012
Article comment by: just a fact

Is this the same man that is running for District 4 Supervisor???

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