Jurors find arrest of JFK conspiracy theorist Robert Groden not unconstitutional
DALLAS -- A verdict has been reached in the civil rights trial of long-time JFK conspiracy theorist Robert Groden.
Groden was arrested in 2010 for selling merchandise at Dealey Plaza without a permit. Two and a half years later, an appeals court threw out all charges against him.
After deliberating for an hour on Thursday, jurors found that Groden's 2010 arrest was not unconstitutional.
Groden was suing the City of Dallas, claiming his constitutional rights were violated in the process.
Groden's lawyers claim he was arrested by Dallas police without probable cause, and that this action violated his right to free speech.
Exactly four years ago Groden was first contacted by Dallas Police Sgt. Frank Gorka. Gorka warned him he could not sell without a permit. The following day he arrested him.
It took 2.5 years for a court to rule that no such permit existed and throw out the charges. Groden says he spent nine hours in jail, even though he was charged with a class c misdemeanor. Those aren't usually punished with jail time.
During closing arguments Groden's attorney asked the city to replace $1,000 worth of merchandise confiscated, $900,000 in mental anguish, and $100,000 in damages to Groden's reputation.
Closing arguments set inJFK merchandise trial
DALLAS — Both sides rested Wednesday in the federal civil rights trial surrounding longtime JFK conspiracy theorist Robert Groden.
Groden is suing the city claiming several of his Constitutional rights were violated during a 2010 arrest at Dealey Plaza for selling merchandise at a park without a permit.
Groden claimed he spent nine hours inside the county jail, and had his merchandise confiscated for about a year.
After a two-and-a-half year legal battle, an appeals court ultimately threw out all criminal charges against Groden, essentially finding no such permit existed.
Now Groden is suing the City of Dallas for damages caused by that arrest, and claims that his civil rights were violated.
On advice of his attorney, Groden would not comment to reporters during the trial, but his lawyer, Brad Kizzia, did.
"It's not legal, or even appropriate use of police services and limited services to throw him in jail for selling a magazine that promotes a particular point of view on a controversial subject," Kizza said outside the Federal Courthouse early Wednesday afternoon.
Taking the witness stand Wednesday, Groden described his interaction with the arresting officer, Sgt. Frank Gorka, in 2010.
"I tried to reason with Gorka... I knew the issues, the ruling, and the law, and I wanted to protect my right to free speech and commercial free speech," Groden said. "I did not want to be silenced."
On Tuesday, Gorka testified that Groden's arrest was based on fact, and he said he checked with the Park Department before making an arrest.
Attorneys for the City of Dallas say it is clear the arresting officer was operating on facts, and was in no way motivated by content.
"The thinking for my arrest started with repeated calls. I gave him an alternative place to sell on Dealey Plaza," Gorka testified on Tuesday. "I encouraged him to seek legal remedy... I felt my only option was to make an arrest."
Groden claims that selling books, DVDs and magazines based on his research is his only source of income. He said he wants to be compensated for legal fees and income he lost, but more importantly, he says he wants to send a message — his story cannot be silenced.
Closing arguments in the case are scheduled for Thursday morning.