(Congressional Agenda) – A GOP county commissioner who was taken into custody by local law enforcement, after issuing comments critical of the sheriff during a meeting, has just won a massive victory in federal court. You know, I was under the impression that here in the United States, we have something called the First Amendment where we are guaranteed the right of free speech, which includes airing of grievances against authorities in the government at all levels? Perhaps Democrats should be forced to take a refresher course on the Constitution?
According to a report from RedState, Niki Frenchko, who is the only member of the Republican Party on the Board of Commissioners in Trumbull County, Ohio, was arrested back in July 2022 after she slammed Sheriff Paul Monroe for a poor performance of his job duties.
“Here in America, we do not arrest our political opponents,” Judge J. Philip Calabrese of the Northern District of Ohio stated in his ruling on Tuesday.
“In November 2020, Frenchko unseated 16-year incumbent and Trumbull County Democrat Party Chairman Dan Polivka by 52-48. The Democrat Party responded by trying to have her election declared illegal. The resistance to her campaign and subsequent election didn’t let up when she was declared the winner. County employees went so far as to attempt to have a ‘protective order’ entered against her. She also didn’t bond with her fellow commissioners,” the piece revealed.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Federal judge rules firmly on the side of the Constitution after an elected official was arrested after criticizing the sheriff at a public meeting. pic.twitter.com/rFwnwWmNbz
— Fox News (@FoxNews) January 21, 2024
“The two other commissioners, Mauro Cantalamessa and Frank Fuda, were Democrats and Ms. Frenchko, as the lone Republican, saw it as her job to ‘needle’ them, the ruling said. Mr. Fuda retired at the end of 2022,” RedState continued. “The dispute stemmed from a meeting in early June 2022, when Ms. Frenchko read into the record a letter from the mother of a man who was jailed in Trumbull County. The letter writer said that her son had received inadequate medical attention after he contracted meningitis.”
In July, Sheriff Monroe, clearly offended, sent out a letter that demanded Frenchko issue an apology and then ripped into her for reading the letter publicly.
Here’s the thing. Since 2010, there have been seven lawsuits filed that allege the rights of inmates held at the Trumbull County Jail have been violated, as per an article published by The Cincinnati Enquirer.
“Mr. Fuda directed a clerk to read the sheriff’s letter at a commission meeting on July 7, 2022. Ms. Frenchko interrupted the clerk and objected, the ruling said. Mr. Fuda ordered her to stop interrupting, using his gavel and raising his voice, but Ms. Frenchko continued objecting and mocked the clerk, who started to cry, the ruling said,” the article noted.
Frenchko was arrested and taken to jail, held for a time, then released. So what were the charges she was facing? A misdemeanor account of “disturbing a lawful meeting.” The charge was quickly dropped. Then, in April of 2023, Frenchko opted to strike back by filing a federal civil rights lawsuit against the two other commissioners, the board of commissioners, the county, the sheriff’s office, and the two officers who took her into custody, stating they violated her First Amendment rights.
The judge presiding over the suit did not hold back his disdain for those who lashed out at Frenchko.
“Here in America, we do not arrest our political opponents,” Judge Calabrese remarked in his ruling. “This case tests that longstanding norm as well as our Constitution’s robust protections for free speech that allow us to criticize our representatives and public officials. Plaintiff Niki Frenchko won election to the three-member Board of County Commissioners of Trumbull County, Ohio. She was an outsider, and the only member of County government from her political party. As a public official, she used her position to needle the incumbents and, in her view, hold them accountable for their decisions. For their part, they viewed her as ignorant of the basic workings of county government and a nuisance, to put it mildly.”
Redstate divulged, “Judge Calabrese found that the defendants had violated Frenchko’s First and Fourth Amendment rights and stripped the other two commissioners, Sheriff Monroe and his two deputies, of personal immunity from the pending lawsuit.”
It’s unbelievable that this happened in the U.S. Everyone must know their rights and stand up for them when they are violated.
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