Disruptive speakers can be ejected from meetings

RENO -- People who get carried away in verbally attacking Reno City Council members could be finding themselves hustled out the door following a federal court ruling.

U.S. District Court Judge Larry Hicks dismissed a suit filed against the Council by political activist Sam Dehne. The judge ruled that the First Amendment does not protect disruptive behavior that prevents an orderly meeting.

Hicks also said free speech rights do not include caustic personal attacks on public officials.

Dehne denied that he was attacking anybody and said he would appeal.

He was removed from a Council meeting in June 1999 after demanding to be heard.

Dehne, who attends nearly every council meeting and has been kicked out more than once, said he won't change his behavior.

Deputy City Attorney Craig Skau said the wording in the judge's ruling could be the basis for the presiding officer to silence or eject disruptive speakers.


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