OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the unconstitutional conviction of activist and Sooner Tea Party head Al Gerhart, of Oklahoma City, in an opinion released today.
Gerhart was convicted of two felony offenses for sending strongly worded emails to a state senator during the 2013 legislative session. American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma Legal Director Brady Henderson represented Gerhart during district court hearings in the case, arguing that Gerhart’s speech was protected by the First Amendment. Today the Court of Criminal Appeals agreed, reversing Gerhart’s conviction and ordering charges to be dismissed.
The following is attributable to Brady Henderson, Legal Director, ACLU of Oklahoma:
The speech for which Al Gerhart was threatened with prison may have been crass and combative, but in the United States of America, being impolite is not illegal. The Court of Criminal Appeals made a decision today that ensures protection of the free speech rights of all Oklahomans. When the State of Oklahoma went after Al Gerhart for his political activism, it did so through a legal theory that tried to criminalize an enormous range of constitutionally protected speech. The Court of Criminal Appeals rightly shut down this attempt to suppress free speech within our communities and at our state capitol.