High court takes 2nd Loz­man case against Riviera

City ar­rested him for air­ing views it didn’t want to hear, he says.

The Palm Beach Post - - LOCAL & BUSINESS - By Jane Mus­grave Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

In what U.S. Supreme Court watch­ers say may be a first, long­time Riviera Beach critic Fane Loz­man on Mon­day learned he will get the chance to air another griev­ance against the city be­fore the na­tion’s high­est court.

Jus­tices agreed to de­cide Loz­man’s claims that the city re­tal­i­ated against him by hav­ing him ar­rested for ex­er­cis­ing his First Amend­ment rights. Oral ar­gu­ments are ex­pected in March.

The case is dif­fer­ent from the pre­vi­ous one that won Loz­man a trip to the hal­lowed halls of jus­tice in Washington. In 2013, he suc­cess­fully per­suaded jus­tices that the city il­le­gally seized his float­ing home and had it de­stroyed.

Chief Jus­tice John Roberts called it his fa­vorite case of the term. Jus­tices agreed that just be­cause a home floats it doesn’t mean it’s a boat. Loz­man’s float­ing home shouldn’t have been seized un­der cen­turies-old mar­itime laws, the court ruled.

In the case that will be heard next year, Loz­man, a self-made mil­lion­aire and former U.S. Ma­rine, will ar­gue that Riviera of­fi­cials had him ar­rested for ex­press­ing views they didn’t want to hear. A fed­eral jury in 2014 re­jected his al­le­ga­tions that the city re­tal­i­ated against him.

Claim­ing the de­ci­sion would have been dif­fer­ent had jurors not been told the ar­rest nul­li­fied his re­tal­i­a­tion claims, Loz­man ap­pealed. His briefs to the high court were sup­ported by the First Amend­ment Foun­da­tion and the In­sti­tute for Jus­tice, both of which called it an is­sue of great public


The or­ga­ni­za­tions are in­ter­ested in his case be­cause other gov­ern­ments around the coun­try have taken sim­i­lar ac­tion to si­lence crit­ics, Loz­man said. “You should not be able to re­tal­i­ate against peo­ple by mak­ing a bo­gus ar­rest,” he said.

The Palm Beach County State At­tor­ney’s Of­fice dropped charges of dis­or­derly con­duct and re­sist­ing ar­rest that Riviera Beach po­lice filed against him af­ter drag­ging him out of a city coun­cil meet­ing in 2006 — one of many he at­tended to ac­cuse city of­fi­cials of wrong­do­ing.

In ad­di­tion to con­cerns that he is not alone, the case ap­pears to be of in­ter­est to Supreme Court jus­tices be­cause ap­peals courts across the na­tion are split on the is­sue of whether an ar­rest bars a claim of re­tal­i­a­tion. Had his law­suit played out in a dif­fer­ent part of the coun­try where courts don’t be­lieve an ar­rest bars First Amend­ment re­tal­i­a­tion claims, the de­ci­sion of the jury in South Florida may have been dif­fer­ent, Loz­man said. The di­ver­gent views among ap­pel­late courts paved the way for the

‘I’m just so grate­ful that the U.S. Supreme Court has al­lowed me to de­fend the First Amend­ment.’ Fane Loz­man Long­time Riviera critic

high court to in­ter­vene.

“At this time in our na­tion’s his­tory, when there’s been such an as­sault on the First Amend­ment, I’m just so grate­ful that the U.S. Supreme Court has al­lowed me to de­fend the First Amend­ment,” Loz­man said. “It’s a spe­cial priv­i­lege we have as Amer­i­cans.”

At­tor­neys rep­re­sent­ing Riviera Beach didn’t re­turn a phone call for com­ment.

When a fed­eral jury in Palm Beach County re­jected Loz­man’s claims, city of­fi­cials de­clared the bat­tle over. “It’s a vin­di­ca­tion for the city,” then City At­tor­ney Pa­mala Ryan said in a cel­e­bra­tion, which now ap­pears to have been pre­ma­ture. “No mat­ter what hap­pens in the fu­ture at least nine mem­bers of the com­mu­nity looked at all the facts and looked at ev­ery­thing that’s been done since Mr. Loz­man started his reign of ter­ror and said to the city, ‘You’ve done noth­ing wrong.’ ”

West Palm Beach at­tor­ney Ben Bedard, who rep­re­sented the city, agreed. “I’m hop­ing he moves on with his life and leaves the city alone,” he said af­ter the 2014 ver­dict.

Un­like dur­ing that trial, when Loz­man rep­re­sented him­self, he will get some high-pow­ered help when he ap­pears be­fore the Supreme Court. He will be rep­re­sented by the Stan­ford Law School Supreme Court Lit­i­ga­tion Clinic and Kerri Barsh, an at­tor­ney with the Miami law firm Green­berg Trau­rig.

Riviera Beach will also have some le­gal mus­cle of its own. In ad­di­tion to Bedard, it will be rep­re­sented by Washington at­tor­ney Shay Dvoret­zky, a former law clerk to the late Supreme Court Jus­tice An­tonin Scalia who has ap­peared be­fore the high court reg­u­larly in re­cent years.

While other plain­tiffs have made more than one ap­pear­ance be­fore the Supreme Court, the re­spected SCOTUS blog said it typ­i­cally has in­volved the same le­gal is­sue. Loz­man may be the first to get in­vited back to ar­gue a com­pletely dif­fer­ent kind of case, it wrote.

Jus­tices ruled in Fane Loz­man’s fa­vor in 2013 over the city’s seiz­ing of his float­ing home.

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