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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Parody Twitter Case Moves Forward Against City

We've written before about the Twitter account that was set up to parody Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis last year.  The account name was @peoriamayor, and the Peoria Mayor's photograph was used as the account "avatar."  The account's biography read "I am honored to serve the citizens of our great city." The Twitter account was set up by Jon Daniel, a 29 year old resident of Peoria, who posted a series of tweets about the Mayor using drugs and associating with prostitutes.  When the City learned of the Twitter account, it contacted Twitter and the account was shut down shortly thereafter, according to news reports.  

Last summer, Mr. Daniel (with some help from the ACLU) filed a civil rights lawsuit against the City of Peoria, Mayor Ardis, and a number of other City officials claiming that the City and officials conspired to violate Mr. Daniel's constitutional rights.  The complaint alleges that the City violated his First Amendment rights, as well as his Fourth Amendment rights when police searched his home and seized his computer and other property as part of its investigation of potential criminal conduct in impersonating a public official (the States Attorney declined to prosecute Mr. Daniel). Mr. Daniel asks that the court enjoin the city from engaging in future conduct that suppresses his freedom of speech rights and requests an award of unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

Earlier this week, a federal judge denied the City's motion to dismiss the case, which means the case will proceed to discovery, and possibly a trial on the merits of Mr. Daniel's constitutional claims. If the case does go to trial, it would like be another year before the case is heard.

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