San Bernadino court dismisses criminal charges filed against Fr. James Linton
[May 11, 2017] Life Legal Senior Staff Counsel Allison Aranda was in court today on behalf of Father James Linton, the Anglican priest who was arrested outside of a San Bernardino Planned Parenthood on October 7, 2016. At no time was Father Linton on Planned Parenthood’s property—but that did not stop the abortion facility’s director from calling the police and having Linton taken into custody. When Linton asked the officer why he was being arrested and whether he was on private property, the officer told Linton to “just be cool.” The police allegedly arrested Father Linton for an obscure provision of the trespass law that prohibits interference with a business.
What was Linton doing? He handed a leaflet to a woman as she entered the abortion facility and told her he would pray for her. Apparently, the officers believed engaging in First Amendment speech on a public sidewalk is a form of trespass.
Informed with the law—and understanding that “cool” is not a substitute for constitutionally protected rights—Linton contacted Life Legal to fight the charges.
“On more than one occasion, my arresting officer told me that I hadn’t ‘been cool,’ and if I would have ‘been cool,’ he would not have arrested me,” said Father Linton. “I have a short list of ambitions in life. Being ‘cool’ in the midst of a culture that murders the unborn is not on my list of ambitions.”
Life Legal attorney Allison Aranda has been working to get the bogus charges dismissed since Linton’s arrest. But the prosecutor wanted Father Linton to agree to a stay-away order, which means he would not have been permitted to stand outside the abortion facility in his community. Life Legal was adamant that Linton was in full compliance with the law. Today, Aranda ensured that the charges were dismissed with no restrictions on Father Linton’s free speech rights.
“We are thrilled that the charges were dropped, but Father Linton’s unjust arrest makes us that much more determined to equip and defend those who faithfully stand in the gap for the unborn,” said Life Legal Executive Director Alexandra Snyder. “Life Legal was founded to protect pro-life heroes like Father Linton who advocate on behalf of a society in which the slaughter of innocent human beings is unthinkable.”