Quran-Burning Pastor Terry Jones Requests Jury Trial in Dearborn Court
Florida Pastor Terry Jones was in court in Dearborn Thursday afternoon. He asked for a jury trial to see whether he needed a peace bond to proceed with a demonstration he planned in the city Friday. Stay tuned for updates.
Florida Pastor Terry Jones and his associate Wayne Sapp appeared at the 19th District Court Thursday afternoon in Dearborn to decide whether he will be legally permitted to demonstrate in the city on Good Friday.
At the 3 p.m. hearing, Judge Mark Somers gave Jones and Sapp the option to have the need for a peace bond determined by either a jury, or by judge. Both men indicated that they would prefer a jury trial.
Because of the late timeframe of the Thursday hearing and need to select a jury, the trial will not be held until 9 a.m. Friday morning.
Judge Somers, however, noted that "justice delayed is justice denied," and that he would make every effort to have a decision made in his court before 5 p.m. Friday–the time Jones had originally planned to demonstrate.
A complaint filed against Jones, as well as his associates at the Dove Outreach Center, Stephanie and Wayne Sapp, was issued by the Wayne County prosecutor’s office on April 15 after mounting evidence suggested that Jones’ planned event could potentially start a riot.
In the court filing against Jones–who, with Wayne Sapp, has burned a Quran and was accused of inciting violence in the past–Dearborn Police Department officials detailed their concerns that Jones would breach the peace. They say the Florida pastor’s plans for a demonstration at Dearborn’s Islamic Center of America this Friday would be logistically and fiscally impossible, and put lives at stake.
Judge Somers said in court Thursday that he believed the action of both the city and the prosecutor's office were justified.
"The court concludes that requirement of the permit was lawful, that the denial of the permit was also lawful," Somers told Jones. "The threat of violating the (city) ordinance requiring a permit … did constitute just reason to believe that you intend to commit a breach of peace by engaging in unlawful assembly."
"Whether you in fact intend to incite riots … or engage in unprotected speech is an issue that has not been determined," he added. "The bottom line is that the court believes they met the threshold."
Jones was given the option of trying to negotiate with the prosecutor instead of taking the matter to trial. However, he told Somers that was "not necessary."
Instead, both Jones and Sapp denied legal counsel and said they would prefer to have the matter go to jury trial.
If a peace bond is set, it would require Jones to pay a sum of money to ensure that his actions will not incite violence. If he does, the bond would not be repaid to him and he would be subject to legal action.
Dearborn officials, including Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reilly in an open letter reported here on Patch, have expressed concern about public safety and Jones' security, as well as the expense and liability of Jones' controversial visit.
A couple dozen protesters were outside the court Thursday afternoon, as well as TV crews and state troopers.