FRESNO, Calif. (Legal Newsline) — A Fresno man is suing California state officials, alleging they violated his freedom of speech by not displaying his Civil War painting.
Timothy J. Desmond filed a lawsuit Aug. 15 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California against state Attorney General Kamala Harris, Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, fairs and expositions official John Quiroz and event organizer John Alkire, alleging violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
According to the complaint, in 2015, Desmond created a painting called "The Attack," which depicts a scene the 1864 Siege of Atlanta. The painting included several individuals carrying flags, the suit says.
The lawsuit states Desmond suffered financial damages after the defendants prohibited him from displaying his work at the 2016 Big Fresno Fair, because the painting showed several flags associated with the Confederacy, which are illegal in California, according to Section 8195.
Desmond seeks a declaration that Section 8195 is unconstitutional on its face as overbroad, a ruling enjoining the defendants from continuing to enforce Section 8195 against his work, reasonable fees and expenses, plus any other appropriate remedy. He is represented by attorneys Bruce J. Berger and Frank Maul of Stammer, McKnight, Barnum & Bailey LLP in Fresno, and Michael E. Rosman, Christopher J. Hajec and Michelle Scott of the Center for Individual Rights in Washington.
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California Case number 1:16-cv-01206