Home / PINAC News / WV Court Officials Trying to Silence Media in Quest to Convict Boy for NRA Shirt

WV Court Officials Trying to Silence Media in Quest to Convict Boy for NRA Shirt

WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

What started off as a routine harassment from a middle school teacher to a student over a t-shirt he was wearing has turned into an embarrassing and infuriating abuse of First Amendment rights in West Virginia.

First, school officials suspended 14-year-old Jared Marcum because he was wearing an NRA shirt.

Then police arrested him because he had argued in the principal’s office that the shirt wasn’t breaking school policy.

This week, prosecutors tried to keep him from speaking to the media through an emergency gag order, which they said would serve in his “better interest.”

But Logan County prosecutors Christopher White and Sabrina Deskins are the same people trying to convict him on a charge of obstruction, which could land him in jail for a year, so they are the last people looking out for his better interest.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, a court bailiff threatened to arrest a local television reporter who had walked into the Logan County Courthouse with a camera in an attempt to file a petition to stop the gag order.

Charlo Greene of WOWK, who broke this story back in April, never even made it past the initial checkpoint in the courthouse when a bailiff stuck her hand on her camera.

The confrontation begins at 1:10 in the above video.

“Don’t touch my camera,” Greene says.

“Turn it off,” the bailiff orders.

“Why can’t I go on the third floor,” Greene asks.

The bailiff grabs at her microphone.

“Don’t touch my microphone,” Greene says.

“Turn it off now or I will arrest you,” the bailiff states.

From Greene’s story on WOWK (yes, the mainstream media still has that annoying habit of referring to reporters in the third person):

Prosecutors were hoping to bar Jared, his father and his lawyer from sharing their story with the press, under the guise that their request would serve Jared’s better interest, something Jared’s father Allen Lardieri sees as ironic.
“It was for Jared’s better interest is what I was told, which seems to be a bit odd to me,” Lardieri said. “These are the same individuals that are trying to prosecute him, so as far as them knowing what is in his better interest, I have a lot of questions about that.”
Charlo Greene, on behalf of WOWK and the free press, prepared a petition to intervene for the gag order hearing but before Charlo could present her argument or even deliver her petition to the court clerk, she was thrown out of the Logan County Courthouse, twice, by a bailiff, who said the judge presiding over Jared’s case, Eric O’Briant requested it.  Charlo was then threatened with arrest and the same charge that Jared is currently on trial for, obstructing an officer.
Meanwhile, Jared met with prosecutors who withdrew their petition for a gag order, on the condition that Jared’s parent waive the confidentiality that bars the prosecution from speaking freely about his case, due to him being a minor.

As a guy who got sent home back in high school for wearing a “Van Halen Kicks Ass” t-shirt, I am left shaking my head at the entire story.

Schools have always had a totalitarian grip on students’ First Amendment rights, but now we have reached an era of lunacy within our schools when cops get called for the most basic teenage infractions, if you even want to call it that.

From Greene’s original story on this matter:

Story continues below...


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It was the image of a gun printed on Jared’s t-shirt that sparked a dispute between a Logan Middle School teacher and Jared, that ended with Jared suspended, arrested and facing two charges, obstruction and disturbing the education process, on his otherwise spotless record.
Jared’s father Allen Lardieri says he’s angry he had to rush from work to pick his son up from jail over something he says was blown way out of proportion.
“I don’t’ see how anybody would have an issue with a hunting rifle and NRA put on a t-shirt, especially when policy doesn’t forbid it,” Lardieri said.
The Logan County School District’s dress code policy prohibits clothing that displays profanity, violence, discriminatory messages and more but nowhere in the document does it say anything about gun images.
“He did not violate any school policy,” Lardieri reiterates.  “He did not become aggressive.”
Take a look at the shirt in question here. And check out the video below where Marcum’s father talks about the case after prosecutors announced they would follow through on their charges last week.
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About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.