MEDINA — The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio will represent the Columbia Station man arrested after being accused of writing a Facebook post cheering the Newtown, Conn., gunman.
Joseph W. Resovsky, 20, was scheduled for an arraignment today in Medina Municipal Court on a charge of inducing panic. But the hearing was canceled after James Hardiman, the Ohio ACLU legal director, entered a written plea of not guilty on Resovsky’s behalf.
“We believe the defendant’s statements are protected speech under the First Amendment,” Hardiman said in a prepared statement, released Wednesday.
Medina police charged Resovsky several days after he posted “im so happy someone shot up all those little (expletive). VIVA LA SCHOOL SHOOTINGS!!!!” on his Facebook page on Dec. 14, the day 20 children and six adults were fatally shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Resovsky told police he was tired of all the Facebook posts about the tragedy, and he just wanted to see if he could get comments.
Hardiman argued that Resovsky’s comments were “attention-seeking,” the Facebook posts “made no direct threats.”
“They may have been in bad taste, and they may have offended people, but our Constitution makes it very clear that offending people is not illegal,” he said.
Resovsky made many of the same arguments in a motion he filed himself last month, asking this the charges be dismissed.
Municipal Court Judge Dale Chase rejected Resovsky’s motion Dec. 27, saying the court had referred Resovsky to the public defender’s office for legal representation.
“Accordingly, the defendant is represented by counsel and pleading filed directly by the defendant will not be acknowledged by the court,” Chase wrote in his ruling.
The judge also noted that Resovsky’s motion could not be considered because it “does not comply with the rules of procedure,” which require that he first enter a plea to the charge.
Medina City Law director Greg Huber could not be reached for comment.
If convicted of inducing panic, a first-degree misdemeanor, Resovsky faces a maximum punishment of up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.