Attorneys obtained a defense verdict in a civil rights jury trial
Attorneys obtained a defense verdict in a civil rights jury trial. The plaintiffs, brother and sister, attended school in an area School District. The District instituted a dress code policy in 2000 that permitted only certain prescribed colors and styles and prohibited all logos except for a tornado, the District's official team mascot. Plaintiffs engaged in a protest of the District's dress code policy, which included wearing clothing with homemade logos containing protest language. The District permitted the protest logos in recognition of plaintiffs' First Amendment rights, and also permitted plaintiffs to wear clothing with Catholic liturgical colors, in recognition of their religious beliefs, even though some of the colors were otherwise prohibited by the dress code. Plaintiffs also contended their protest of the dress code included simply wearing clothing in colors and styles that did not comply with the dress code. District representatives, who were called by plaintiffs as on cross, testified that plaintiffs were never disciplined for wearing protest logos or liturgical colors, and that they were only ever disciplined for wearing non-conforming clothing. In ruling on our Rule 50(a) motion following plaintiffs' case-in-chief, the judge concluded as a matter of law that although plaintiffs' wearing of the protest logos and liturgical colors was protected under the First Amendment, plaintiffs' wearing of non-conforming clothing was not protected conduct. The jury was left to decide whether the District disciplined plaintiffs for engaging in the protected conduct of wearing protest logos and liturgical colors in violation of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Following a three-day trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in our clients' favor after just minutes of deliberation.