New York Times by Adam Liptak
December 4, 2017
About a decade ago, the leaders of a Florida city held a closed-door meeting to discuss how to intimidate and silence a critic named Fane Lozman. So far, their plan has not worked.
Mr. Lozman calls himself “a persistent and tenacious underdog,” which may be an understatement. He is an indefatigable gadfly and an unusually successful litigant.
In 2013, he won his first Supreme Court case against the city, Riviera Beach. By a 7-to-2 vote, the justices ruled that the city had misused maritime law to seize and destroy his houseboat. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. called the decision his favorite of the term.
Last month, the Supreme Court agreed to hear another appeal from Mr. Lozman. Repeat appearances in the court by the same adversaries are unusual, and they tend to involve different stages in the same case. Mr. Lozman has pulled off the rare feat of hauling the city into the Supreme Court in two separate cases.
The new one has its roots in that closed-door session, which took place in June 2006. According to a transcript, which was later made public under Florida’s freedom-of-information law, the city’s leaders spoke freely about finding a way to investigate and threaten Mr. Lozman.
Elizabeth Wade, a city councilwoman, said “it would help to intimidate” Mr. Lozman and to make him feel “unwarranted heat.”
Five months later, Mr. Lozman rose to address the City Council during the part of a public session set aside for comments from residents. He had barely started talking when Ms. Wade called for a police officer.
“Carry him out,” she said.
Mr. Lozman refused to go. “I have a right to make my public comment,” he said.
Ms. Wade disagreed. “Take him out,” she said.
A video of the episode shows Mr. Lozman being handcuffed and led away.
He was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, but prosecutors dropped the charges, saying there was “no reasonable likelihood of successful prosecution.”
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