|NMU||VERMONT||Newsgathering||Mar 28, 2002|
Judge allows ‘citizen reporter’ back into courtroom
- A federal court suspended an order that permanently barred a Vermont man openly critical of a county judge from all state courts.
A self-described “citizen reporter” who insists he was banned from state courthouse grounds for expressing his free speech rights is temporarily able to return, under a decision issued by a federal court in Vermont.
Scott Huminski was banned from all courthouse property by Rutland County Judge Nancy Corsones in May 1999 after arriving at the courthouse with signs attached to his van that called Corsones a “Butcher of the Constitution.” State Judge Patricia Zimmerman later upheld Corsones’ orders.
U.S. District Judge J. Garvan Murtha granted a preliminary injunction on Feb. 27 against the trespassing orders, finding that both jurists barred Huminski from state court property in retaliation for his criticism of Corsones.
Despite the ruling, Huminski claims “the judges continue to wish to banish me from every court in this state solely because I have spoken the truth about them.” He also said “they continue to attempt to silence the truth about themselves . . . and wish to propagate a lie upon the people.”
Huminski’s criticisms of Corsones stem from a 1997 plea agreement in a landlord-tenant dispute. Huminski allegedly violated the agreement when his wife filed a lawsuit against the prosecutors responsible for brokering the deal. As a result, the state’s attorney moved to reinstate the charges against Huminski, which Corsones permitted.
Following Corsones’ decision, Huminski began arriving at the courthouse with signs proclaiming that Corsones had violated the Constitution by allowing the charges to be filed. A district judge and the Vermont Supreme Court later overturned the refiling as a double jeopardy violation.
Zimmerman and Corsones plan to fight the injunction.
“Our motion is to make the injunction permanent,” Huminski said. “Their motion is to reinstate my banishment for life in all state courts because of my criticism of the jurists.”
(Huminski vs. Rutland County) — KC
(Editor’s note, 7/30/02: The Feb. 27 preliminary injunction was issued in 2001. Motions to make the injunction final or dismiss it entirely were entered at the time this article was written.)
- ‘Amateur reporter’ appeals case over courthouse access (3/29/2000)
- Federal judge dismisses “amateur” reporter’s lawsuit (11/5/1999)
© 2002 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press