ACLU Of Kentucky Files Suit On Behalf Of Song Lyrics Defendant James Evans
Says False Affidavit Led to Unlawful Arrest/Prosecution For Facebook Post
LOUISVILLE – The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky today filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of James Evans, the Muhlenberg County man previously arrested and charged with making threats online for posting song lyrics from the heavy metal band Exodus. In 2014, Evans posted on his Facebook page lyrics from a song written about the Virginia Tech school shooting. Because of the school-related content, local law enforcement officials launched an investigation. In doing so, law enforcement officials learned the post consisted of song lyrics and that Evans had, in the past, posted lyrics from other songs online. And they questioned Evans who fully cooperated with their investigation.
Nevertheless, a Muhlenberg County Police officer sought and obtained a warrant for Evans’ arrest. But the affidavit submitted for the warrant mentioned nothing about the investigation or the facts that were uncovered. The ACLU represented Evans in the criminal case which was ultimately dismissed, but not before Evans spent several days in custody for simply posting the lyrics online.
In explaining the ACLU’s decision to file suit on Mr. Evans’ behalf, ACLU of Ky. Cooperating Attorney Brenda Popplewell stated, “This case is not only about Mr. Evans’ right to engage in non-threatening speech online, but also his right to be free from unlawful police tactics in securing his arrest and prosecution for a crime he did not commit.” She added, “We look forward to representing Mr. Evans in this case, and we hope that by doing so we will not only vindicate his rights but help ensure that others’ rights are protected in the future.”
ACLU of Kentucky Cooperating Attorney Brenda Popplewell and ACLU of Kentucky Legal Director William E. Sharp represent Mr. Evans.
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