In a blistering segment aired by WSMV-Channel 4 on July 28, 2017, attorney Daniel Horwitz spoke out against a Judge in White County, Tennessee, who is using jail time as leverage to coerce defendants into getting sterilized.
“This program is outrageous,” Horwitz said in the segment. “It is morally indefensible, and it’s illegal. Coerced consent is not the same thing as consent, and using jail time as a means of getting someone to submit to sterilization is not acceptable in any regard.”
“I think it is unconscionable that anyone would tolerate a judge or a criminal justice system that coerces people into relinquishing their reproductive rights in order to gain their freedom,” Horwitz added. “I want this entire order rescinded in its entirety, and I want this judge, Judge Benningfield, to seriously consider whether he needs to be on the bench any longer.”
In response to a lawsuit filed on March 3, 2017 by attorney Daniel Horwitz on behalf of Plaintiff Dustin Owens—who was issued a citation in early February for displaying what a Metro Nashville Police Officer claimed was “an obscene bumper sticker”—lawyers for the city of Nashville have conceded that “Mr. Owens is correct that the bumper sticker at issue does not fit the criteria of ‘obscene and patently offensive’ as those terms are defined in Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-8-187 and under relevant First Amendment jurisprudence.” As a result, Metro has agreed to dismiss Mr. Owens’ citation and accept a declaratory judgment that the bumper sticker at issue “is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” Under the parties’ settlement agreement, Metro will also pay for the costs of Mr. Owens’ lawsuit.
Said Horwitz, Mr. Owens’ counsel: “The statute under which Mr. Owens was cited is facially unconstitutional. Hard-core censorship of this nature also has no place in a free society. We’re ecstatic about this victory, and we appreciate Metro’s prompt concession that the position taken by Mr. Owens’ arresting officer was nakedly meritless.”
Daniel Horwitz is a First Amendment lawyer based in Nashville, Tennessee. Selected case documents and media reports about the case are available below. If you would like to purchase a consultation from Horwitz, you can do so using the following form: