Judge backs down on order to remove newsracks
FLORIDA — A county judge who ordered the removal of 17 news racks because he said they were “unsightly,” in early November allowed them to remain if they were moved 25 feet down the sidewalk from the court house.
Duval County Chief Circuit Judge John Moran in Jacksonville reached the agreement with the Florida Times Union, which was joined in opposing the order by the Jacksonville Business Journal, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. These newspapers agreed to move their news racks and to encourage compliance by the owners of nearly 20 other newspaper racks who did not protest the order, the Associated Press reported. In return, Moran will vacate his order.
On August 16, Moran ordered the newsracks removed by September 16, referring to them as “unsightly, demeaning, degrading to and distracting from the administration of justice.”
A news release issued in early November, stated that both sides acknowledge that “the issue has been blown out of proportion.”
The judge’s attorney, Gary Pajcic, stated that the issue concerned newsracks “overall” and no newspaper in particular.
George Gabel, the attorney representing the Times Union and the other papers, filed an appeal of the administrative order on Sept. 7, arguing that the judge was “outside of the scope of his power” and the action is contrary to the “proscriptions of the First Amendment.”
Gabel also argued that the county commissioners and the city council have sole authority over the allocation and use of space in the county courthouse.
(In Re: Administrative Order No. 93-7: Newspaper and Advertising Stands; Media Counsel: George Gabel, Jacksonville)