Shelby Co. (ECWd) -
Shelby County Bailiff Rick Hoadley appears to have crossed the line with his recent communication to a County Official.
According to the email we received this morning, Hoadley appears to think he has some type of authority to silence people in a County Board meeting.
"This morning I was asked to help spread the word by court bailiff Rick Hoadley that “there will be no bull” in the county board meetings. He said “it is done!” This was spoken in a threatening tone and was a bit shocking. I asked what “bull” meant and I was told this is “the public standing up and yelling like past board meetings.” I was informed that if this happens “those people will probably be removed from the meeting, we are not going to tolerate it.”
Where do we begin?
- "we are not going to tolerate it" - Who is "WE"? A court bailiffs have no power to remove anyone from a County Board meeting at their own discretion.
- "those people will probably be removed from the meeting" - I wonder if Hoadley has any clue what the Supreme Court has said in the Fane Lozeman case about removing or arresting people at a public meeting? Lozeman won his case! - "there is a risk that some police officers may exploit the arrest power as a means of suppressing speech."
- "the public standing up and yelling like past board meetings." - A public meeting is under the control of the Chairman. It is the Chairman that directs the direction of a meeting and if a Chairman allows a person to 'stand up and yell', then there is nothing the Sheriff, his deputies, or a bailiff can do about it. It is not their place to determine what is or is not permitted during a public meeting.
We have always encouraged citizens to attend their local government meetings and exercise their rights to address their government. While we recognize the importance of a public body being able to complete their business without interference, there are numerous examples where the public's intervention prior to action has ensured the public body did not do something that is going to lead to further legal issues. Are we to understand the bailiff thinks such speech gives him the power to remove people?
For example, in the case of Shelby County, the past Chairman who attempted to remove an elected official would have placed the county into a no-win Federal lawsuit. His ignorance of the fact an elected official has property rights and is entitled to an actual hearing before being terminated is a sound reason a citizen should speak up and possibly even yell to prevent the action from being taken. Had the public not spoke up and urged against taking the action being contemplated out of fear from a "bailiff", and the county actually voted to removed the official, the county would have been sued in Federal Court and they would have lost, costing the taxpayers even more money.
Another example was when a Township board was going to vote to appoint a trustee to the position of Supervisor. The law points to such an appointment as being a crime. The public spoke up and two board members listened and walked out to break the quorum and prevent the action from being taken. The people speaking up and yelling prevented a crime.
Our First Amendment is a right that if not exercised will be trampled, much like is being attempted by the instruction given by this county bailiff.
Shelby County has their County Board meeting this evening at 7 pm in Courtroom "A" at the County Courthouse. What the bailiff may not understand, while the room where this meeting is being held is normally a courtroom, it is not a courtroom when it's being used for a county board meeting and his normal powers in a courtroom do not apply.
We encourage the public to speak up during public comment, as well as when you recognize the officials are taking an action that violates the law or people's rights.
We also encourage the Shelby County Sheriff to educate himself and his employees on who is in charge in a public meeting, what people's rights are, and what powers they do or do not have during a public meeting.
A copy of the agenda and board packet for tonight's meeting can be downloaded at this link or viewed below.