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Social advocate wins appeal for state crime charges

A Texas man who has spent the past three years standing up for victims of alleged corrupt behavior and misconduct by state police was recently arrested over an incident with his cell phone. By shining light on injustices and advocating for transparency from virtually all levels of government, community activists are often an essential part of any well-rounded area or neighborhood. Currently, all but one of his felony and state crime charges have been dropped.

In March 2013, the man was present in court while several minors were in attendance for allegedly being late or not showing up to school. At that point in time, this was a misdemeanor. The man was apparently upset by the way that the judge appeared to be scolding the teenagers, and so he pulled out his cell phone to record the incident. When the judge realized what was going on, she demanded the phone be turned over to her, and once in her possession, she retreated to her chambers for approximately two hours.

When the judge emerged, she allegedly gave the owner of the phone two options -- be arrested and charged with contempt of court, or delete all evidence of the video. He chose to delete the video and was then ordered to leave. However, while leaving he reportedly said an expletive to the police captain who was in attendance at the time and was promptly arrested for disorderly conduct. The validity of this charge has been questioned as it has been ruled on numerous occasions that a citizen's use of profanity to a law enforcement officer is an act protected by the U.S. Constitution, specifically the First Amendment.

In June 2013, a trial ended with a guilty verdict against him. It was ultimately determined that the judge overseeing the case was biased, as she was the same judge who had been involved in the cell phone video incident. He successfully pursued an appeal, leading to a second trial and a new, unbiased judge. Standing up for what is right might not always be the easiest task, especially when it has the potential to end in Texas state crime charges, but often a comprehensive review of the charges and underlying evidence prior to attending court can help defendants achieve the best outcome possible.

Source: photographyisnotacrime.com, "Peaceful Streets Founder Antonio Buehler Heads to Trial for Telling Cop to "Go Fuck Yourself"", Andrew Meyer, June 24, 2015

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