In a resounding win for free speech, Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle has issued an order striking down Tennessee’s criminal defamation law prohibiting false “campaign literature in opposition to any candidate in any election.” Finding that the law represented an unlawful content-based, viewpoint-based, and identity-based speech restriction that could not withstand scrutiny under the First Amendment or the Tennessee Constitution, Chancellor Lyle invalidated the law as unconstitutional.
“Tennesseans have a constitutional right to mock and satirize politicians, and candidates for office cannot lawfully use the threat of a criminal prosecution to inhibit criticism,” Horwitz said in a statement to The Tennessean. “Tennesseans For Sensible Election Laws is proud to have won this important case and made Tennessee’s democratic process freer once again.”
Along with the win, in an order entered on September 11, 2020, Horwitz additionally secured a final judgment “awarding Plaintiff recovery of $69,882.37 in attorneys’ fees and expenses.“
Daniel Horwitz is a free speech and election lawyer who represents clients across Tennessee. If you would like to purchase a consultation from him, you can do using the form below.
After a years-long effort to secure a review of Joseph Webster’s conviction for a 1998 murder, the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office has officially authorized a reinvestigation into the case. It is the first investigation into a potential wrongful murder conviction in Nashville’s history.
“I applaud the District Attorney’s office for deciding to reinvestigate the case against Joseph Webster, which has utterly collapsed,” said Daniel Horwitz, Webster’s attorney. “Mr. Webster looks forward to a thorough investigation of this matter, which he is confident will prove his consistent and unwavering claim of innocence.
Daniel Horwitz is a criminal and civil appellate attorney based in Nashville, Tennessee. If you would like to purchase a consultation from Horwitz, you can do so using the following form:
Calvin Bryant—a beloved college student and high school football star whose sentence garnered national attention for its purposeless cruelty after he received a 17-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for a first-time, non-violent drug offense—was released from prison on October 31, 2018. Mr. Bryant’s release was made possible after his attorney, Daniel Horwitz, brokered a deal with Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk that enabled him to be released seven years early.
Due to the severity of Tennessee’s Drug Free School Zone Act—an intensely punitive sentencing enhancement that has nothing to do with protecting children, places drug offenses on par with the most severe, violent crimes, and can be applied to virtually every drug transaction that occurs within a Tennessee city—Mr. Bryant received a prison sentence for a low-level drug transaction that was longer than he would have received if he had committed Rape or Second Degree murder. His case attracted widespread calls for reform after it exposed prosecutors’ arbitrary use of the enhancement and its racially disparate application.
“This would not have been possible without a DA sticking his neck out to right this wrong, and without a legion of supporters,” Horwitz told The Tennessean. “This is—and I’m not exaggerating— the most unfair sentence I have ever seen. There is simply no circumstance in which it makes sense to punish a first-time, nonviolent drug offender more harshly than a rapist or a murderer.”
After his release, Bryant immediately re-enrolled at Tennessee State University to finish his degree and established a non-profit organization aimed at curbing youth violence and steering kids away from gangs and drugs. Selected media coverage of Mr. Bryant’s case appears below.
Selected Media Coverage:
–Nashville Scene: Council Members Petition Judge Over Drug-Free School Zone Case
–Families Against Mandatory Minimums: Calvin Bryant: 17 Years for a First Offense