Two men who were put on trial for reading the Bible on a public sidewalk were deemed not guilty in a directed verdict in a California Superior Court. Several months ago the men went to a local DMV before the facility opened and read the Bible out loud to the line of people waiting to get in. The police arrived, confiscated their Bibles, and arrested them, claiming they didn’t have a permit for what they were doing.
At trial, it was up to the prosecutor to prove that the men were in violation of the California law requiring them to have a permit. The prosecution attempted to show that the men were having a “demonstration or gathering” which requires a permit. However, after they rested their case, lawyers for the defendants knew the evidence presented was weak enough for them to ask the judge to give them a directed verdict, which the judge did before the defense even presented their case. Superior Court Judge Timothy Freer found the two men not guilty, implying that the law was unconstitutional in the way it gave law enforcement too much latitude in determining what actions had the “effect, intent or propensity to draw a crowd of onlookers.” Judge Freer further stated that prosecutors failed to meet the burden of proof that the men’s public Bible reading was for the purpose of a demonstration or gathering.
Meanwhile, the attorneys for the defendants had previously been given a stay on an unlawful arrest federal lawsuit to see what the outcome of the criminal trial would be. The “not guilty” verdict in the criminal trial will now allow the defendants to move forward in their lawsuit against the California Highway Patrol.
When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Psalm 27:2
Source: Not Guilty — Pastor and Elder Acquitted After Bible Reading at DMV. ChristianNewsWire.com. August 14, 2013.
Harry A. Gaylord