NEWS MEDIA UPDATE · FLORIDA · Newsgathering · Feb. 7, 2007
Charges against freelance journalist dropped
Feb. 7, 2007 · Criminal charges have been dropped against a freelance journalist who was arrested in 2004 outside the main elections office in West Palm Beach, Fla., while taking photographs of voters in line.
James S. Henry, 56, was arrested on three misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct, unlawful solicitation of voters, and resisting arrest without violence.
Henry, who is also an attorney, was at the office doing research for a book to compare the U.S. election process with those of other countries.
When Henry attempted to take two photos of the crowd, a sheriff’s deputy tried to take his camera. Henry ran about 100 feet and then fell. Upon his fall, the deputy arrested him, according to The Palm Beach Post.
In 2004, Palm Beach County elections supervisor Theresa LePore had enacted a rule that prevented journalists from contacting voters in line outside of the polls within a distance of 50 feet. Henry has told reporters he was 125 feet away from the voter line.
Henry’s charge for disorderly conduct was dismissed in 2005. Prosecutors dropped the two remaining charges and in turn, Henry waived his right to sue and will serve 15 hours of community service, according to his attorney, Richard Lubin.
“I would have liked to have seen an outcome more supportive of the First Amendment as I understand it,” Henry told the Post. “But I’m delighted the case has been resolved.”
(Florida v. Henry, Media Counsel: Richard G. Lubin, West Palm Beach, Fla.) — AG