Last week, a judge rejected the City of Boulder's request for a permanent restraining order against Seth Brigham, its most annoying critic, and proudly so. Shortly thereafter, David Lane, Brigham's attorney, dropped heavy hints that a lawsuit could follow. In a letter yesterday, however, he's giving Boulder a chance to avoid returning to court over the matter -- but only if it settles the case to his, and Brigham's, satisfaction. As we've reported, Brigham was served with a restraining order after the city provided workplace-violence expert Dr. John Nicoletti with copies of e-mails accusing Boulder City Councilwoman KC Becker of financial impropriety, as well as information involving verbal jousting, F-bombs and occasional jabs and pushes involving other councilmembers. Brigham responded by contacting Lane, who'd represented him two years earlier after he was arrested for stripping to his boxer shorts at a council meeting -- an incident that led to Boulder paying a $10,000 settlement.
In the latest case, Lane argued that because Boulder hadn't demonstrated Brigham was dangerous, the city was violating his First Amendment rights by attempting to ban him from future council meetings and the like. And Judge David Archuleta agreed. Here's an excerpt from his "Orders Denying Permanent Protection Order."
I find that the Petitioners have failed to meet their burden to prove that a restraining order should enter in this case. Although I do not believe that Petitioners necessarily intended to silence Respondent's political speech it is clear to me that approving a permanent protection order in this case would do just that, and that they haven't satisfied the Protection Order statute in any event....
Although I have considered this case very carefully, given the strongly held and well-articulated positions of each party, this case is not a particularly compelling one for me. The threat posed by the Respondent is not imminent and the request for the permanent protection order must, therefore, be denied.
Lane references Archuleta's position in a letter to Boulder City Attorney Thomas Carr that was e-mailed yesterday. He argues that "Boulder's efforts to silence Mr. Brigham amounted to both retaliation for his protected speech activity and an abuse of process" -- something he believes "Seth Brigham can prove...in a federal lawsuit against Boulder."
Not that such a complaint needs to be filed. If the city is "interested in settling this matter without litigation," a representative should contact him no later than noon on Friday, September 7. "If I do not hear from you," he adds, "I will assume you are not interested in discussing a settlement of this matter and we will proceed to file."
As for how much money he might demand under such circumstances, he notes the previous $10,000 payment before suggesting that "there are escalating consequences for subsequent violations."
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Read the entire letter to City Attorney Carr here.
More from our Follow That Story archive: "Boulder judge rejects restraining order against city's most annoying critic."