In May, Boulder officials filed a restraining order against Seth Brigham, the city's most annoying critic, arguing that he was a threat. Brigham, who won a hefty judgement against Boulder two years ago (more on that below), responded by contacting attorney David Lane and taking the city to court. Yesterday, a hearing was held in the matter, and while the judge has not yet ruled for or against Brigham, Lane characterizes the proceeding as "a joke."
Rather than reaching a decision based on yesterday's testimony, Boulder County Court Judge David Archuleta gave the Boulder until August 17 to provide more evidence about Brigham. Was Lane frustrated by Archuleta's institution of what's in essence an overtime period?
"No," he answers. "I was frustrated that the City of Boulder is so lacking in any grounding in First Amendment law.
"I believe what's happening here is that the judge is going to rule in our favor," he goes on, "but he wants to give Boulder every opportunity imaginable to get in compliance with the First Amendment in this case. And they're not going to be able to. I rarely make predictions about how judges will rule, but I have great confidence Boulder is going to get slapped down hard on this one."
As we've reported, Brigham has been a thorn in the side of Boulder officials for years. Note that in 2010, the city paid him $10,000 to prevent a First Amendment lawsuit from Lane over the gadfly's arrest at a city council meeting. There, Brigham stripped to his boxer shorts as a way of ridiculing a nudity ordinance he incorrectly thought would be debated that night.
Here's video of his big moment:
More recently, Brigham has been sending e-mails accusing Boulder City Councilwoman KC Becker of financial impropriety and got into a dustup with councilman George Karakehian involving a "Heil Hitler" salute, multiple F-bombs and conflicting views about who touched and/or jabbed who. These incidents were shared with Dr. John Nicoletti, an expert on workplace violence, who concluded Brigham "was definitely a threat and the city needed to take action," according to Boulder spokeswoman Sarah Huntley.
In a previous interview with Westword, Lane pointed out that Nicoletti didn't meet or speak with Brigham before making his recommendation -- a methodology the attorney compared with mind-reading. And Lane wasn't any more persuaded by Nicoletti's testimony at the hearing yesterday.
"He admitted that his sole focus was Seth Brigham causing social and psychological anxiety and disruption in the minds of the city council," Lane maintains. "And even if the answer to that is 'yes,' my reaction is, 'So what? Martin Luther King caused social and psychological disruptions. That's what you're supposed to do in the political arena.' And [Nicolletti] said, 'You may be right. I'm not a First Amendment dude. I'm a workplace violence dude.'
"But what's appalling is that the city somehow thinks they can do this - because heaven forbid we should have psychological disruption visited on officials who are hiding evidence of their own corruption, according to Seth. Boulder is a very sensitive place, and we don't want our elected leaders having their feelings hurt."
If Boulder submits more information against Brigham, Judge Archuleta "will give me time to submit anything in rebuttal," Lane says. "And I'm willing to stipulate that Boulder City Council members huddle under their beds in the fetal position at night crying and having psychological and social distress because their feelings have been hurt by Seth Brigham. But if the First Amendment revolved around Boulder City Council members having hurt feelings, no one would be able to speak in this country.
"Everything Seth Brigham has said is protected under the First Amendment," Lane allows. "And someone needs to teach the Boulder City Council members a lesson. After all, they have a history of violating Seth's rights. That's why they paid him 10,000 bucks. And my office has a zero-tolerance policy for First Amendment violators."
Here's a copy of the original restraining order against Brigham.
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More from our Follow That Story archive: "Striptease pays off: Boulder City council offers $10,000 to boxer-shorts-protester Seth Brigham." More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Corey Donahue and Patrick Marsden arrested for assault on an officer, pepper-sprayed."