|NMU||VERMONT||Newsgathering||Jul 30, 2002|
Man banned again from court system over protest tactics
- A self described “citizen-reporter” is once again barred from entering state courthouses after a federal judge lifted an injunction that has allowed him access for the last year and a half.
A man who describes himself as a “citizen-reporter” has again been barred from Vermont state courts by a federal court action.
Scott Huminski, a 42-year-old political hopeful, can be punished for entering any courthouse in the state since a U.S. district judge lifted his earlier injunction against “no-trespass orders” that had been entered against Huminski. Federal Judge J. Garvan Murtha’s original injunction came Feb. 27, 2001.
“Now, a year and a half later, after I had enjoyed the right to attend court for this time with no trouble, I can’t proceed with my civil cases I have pending or gather signatures at the courthouse,” Huminski said.
His plans to run for Bennington County state’s attorney are being hindered by the restraint, as is his right to free expression, says Huminski.
A prominent Washington, D.C., attorney, Robert Corn-Revere, took up Huminski’s case free of charge and is appealing the dissolution of the injunction to the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York (2nd Cir.).
The appeal, to be filed this week, could question the constitutionality of limiting any citizen’s access to the state court system. Huminski said Corn-Revere will argue that the ban is “an unconstitutional means of restricting access that does not follow any of the court precedents set up to this point.”
Huminski began protesting outside of the Rutland County Courthouse more than two years ago by parking his truck in the courthouse’s lot and displaying signs critical of County Judge Nancy Corsones. Corsones issued an order banning him from state courts in May of 1999.
Corsones’ decision was upheld by an appellate court, but Murtha granted a preliminary injunction against the trespassing orders, finding that Huminski was denied access from state courts as a retaliation for his criticism of Corsones. But on July 11, Murtha determined that Huminski presented a possible safety risk for the subjects of his protests and removed his injunction.
Huminski’s decade-long, one-man protest against the state court system has extended beyond Corsones’ courthouse. He also protested in Bennington, Vt., using signs critical of State’s Attorney William Wright and his staff.
Huminski said he was acting as a citizen-reporter by consistently attending hearings and trials in order to report to the public — through signs and public displays — of abuses in the judicial system. Not until 1999 did he hit a legal roadblock to free expression after he said Corsones retaliated against his displays.
(Huminski v. Rutland County, Media counsel: Robert Corn-Revere, Hogan & Hartson, Washington, D.C.) — CL
- 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