Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Frank Lay's Criminal Contempt Order

Here comes da' judge, with an unsealed order in the Pace High School contemptuous prayer case. After you read the excerpts below, give silent thanks, if you like, to the genius of our Founding Fathers and the Constitution.

Here you had a supposedly well educated man, the principal of a Florida high school, who is directly and unambiguously ordered by a federal court judge to refrain from "promoting, endorsing, or causing religious prayers during school-sponsored events" because it's against the law. But, so it would appear from the allegations, the principal's fanaticism and arrogance are so strong - yet, his cowardice so pronounced -- that he deliberately violates that court order by ordering someone else to deliver a prayer in contempt of the court's order.

That's what called 'having the cowardice of one's convictions.'

When the facts come to light in another proceeding, and on her own a judge concludes there is reasonable cause to believe the offending principal acted in criminal contempt of our judicial system, that judge nevertheless is required by the Constitution to extend to him the fundamental fairness of notice of the court's criminal charge of contempt, the right to counsel of his own choosing, and a full and fair opportunity to refute the charge (if he can).

All, much more fair and straight-forward treatment than it seems the principal extended to the court. And the judge was more courageous, too. We might even say, if we were looking for a literary allusion -- say, from the Bible -- that the judge was more "Christian": "He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight." (Psalm 101, King James ver.)

Excerpts, from a 4-page Order of Federal District Court Judge M. Casey Rogers [footnotes and citations omitted]:
On January 9, 2009, this court entered a temporary injunction ... prohibiting the School Board for Santa Rosa County, Florida (“School Board”); Tim Wyrosdick, Superintendent of the School District of Santa Rosa County, Florida (successor in office to John Rogers); H. Frank Lay, the principal of Pace High School; and all of the School Board’s officers and employees, from promoting, endorsing, or causing religious prayers during school-sponsored events.

On May 5, 2009, the plaintiffs in that case filed a motion ... for an order to show cause why the court should not find Michelle Winkler, a nonparty School Board employee, in contempt of court for violating the temporary injunction, based on her conduct of causing her husband to say a prayer at a school-sponsored event. Within the motion, plaintiffs also made specific reference to another possible willful violation of the temporary injunction by Principal Frank Lay, a party to the action, and Athletic Director Robert Freeman, a nonparty School Board employee. The plaintiff’s motion, however, did not seek an order to show cause regarding their conduct. At oral argument on plaintiff’s motion, plaintiff again referenced the conduct of Lay and Freeman.

[T]he court, pursuant to its inherent and statutory contempt power, hereby sua sponte [i.e., on its own motion] initiates criminal contempt proceedings against Lay and Freeman for willfully violating the court’s temporary injunction order.

Criminal contempt proceedings are punitive and serve to vindicate the court’s
authority through the imposition of a criminal sanction against one who has willfully violated a court order. [citations omitted]. While the court’s contempt power should be used sparingly, “[t]his power has been uniformly held to be necessary to the protection of the court from insults and oppression while in the ordinary exercise of its duty, and to enable it to enforce its judgments and orders necessary to the due administration of law and the protection of the rights of citizens.” Id. (internal marks omitted). The court has statutory authority to punish acts in contempt of its orders by fine, imprisonment, or both. [citation omitted]
* * *
The temporary injunction, in relevant part, enjoined the defendants “and their officers, agents, affiliates, subsidiaries, servants, employees, successors, and all other persons or entities in active concert or privity or participation with them” from engaging in the following conduct:

1. Promoting, advancing, aiding, facilitating, endorsing, or causing religious
prayers or devotionals during school-sponsored events;
* * *
4. Permitting school officials to promote their personal religious beliefs and
proselytize students in class or during school-sponsored events and
activities; and
5. Otherwise unconstitutionally endorsing or coercing religion.
* * *
The order required the defendants to provide a copy of it to all Santa Rosa School District officials, staff, faculty, and other employees and agents. On January 28, 2009, after the effective date of the court’s temporary injunction and with knowledge of it, Lay asked Freeman to offer a prayer of blessing during a school-day luncheon for the dedication of a new field house at Pace High School. Freeman complied with the request and offered the prayer at the event. It appears this was a school sponsored event attended by students, faculty, and community members.

Accordingly, it is ORDERED:

1. Frank Lay and Robert Freeman are each required to appear before the court at 9:00 a.m., Central Standard Time, on September 17, 2009, to show cause why they should not be held in criminal contempt of court, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 401(3) and Fed. R. Crim. P. 42(a). The trial will be held in Courtroom 4 North, United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida, Pensacola Division, located at One North Palafox Street, Pensacola, Florida 32502.

2. Frank Lay and Robert Freeman each have the right to the representation of counsel, the presumption of innocence, the privilege against self incrimination, to prepare a defense and to present witnesses, and to proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt before any criminal sanction may be imposed.

More Pace High School Religious Instruction

Sept. 18: Late Editorial Update ("Homo Neanderthalensis")
Sept. 17: Lay, Freeman Beat the Rap with the 'I'm Stupid' Defense
Sept. 17: Pictures of a Pep Rally
Aug. 22: Stupid, Not Contemptuous
Aug. 5: The One and Only Faith
May 31: Principal Lay Has a 'Come to Jesus' Moment
May 27: Laying Down the Puritan Law
May 15: Southern Hos-Pee-Tility


Don Miller said...

My prayers are for Frank Lay and Robert Freeman; that they continue to stand for their beliefs in the the Lord, Jesus Christ. I also pray for judge Casey Rodges; that the Lord would convict him of his errors in his interpretation of the Constitution of the United States. I also pray for the teachers and students of Pace High School; that the Lord would bless them and show them His ways.

Anonymous said...

Can we find a better excuse to waste tax payers money be taking a well established principal of a high school to court due to some religous reason, whats so harmless about that? If you don't believe in God or have religous convictions then that your business. God created life and he can taketh, just remember that no man is bigger or goverment for the mighty God! God Bless Mr. Lay/Freeman and we are with you in our prayers.

Anonymous said...

Judge Rodgers is a woman.

Anonymous said...

tax payers money on this?.... but they can all wear skulls and cross bones and cuss their heads off and they only get detention??... good grief... get a life... I pray Frank Lay and Robert Freeman comfort and protection during this time. God, Holy Father of all, I PRAY you make this the center of your Will. Ask any real estate agent why folks move to Pace? cuz of the schools... and their VALUES.

Anonymous 5 said...

No. They move to Pace schools to enjoy the sex with the teachers.

AMIT said...

Useful information posted.

Legal forum

Alison Wonderland said...

Who is the idiot? The one who prays to a god he can not see, or the one who is offended by a god he doesn't believe exists?

Anonymous said...

Do you people intentionally avoid understanding constitutional law, or do you have difficulty understanding it? Frank Lay is allowed to be Christian. When he is not at a school event, he can pray his little heart out, preaching the Bible in whatever volume he wishes. When he promotes prayer at a school event after he's FIRED, he'll be perfectly within his rights.

A government entity is not permitted to promote a religion. If you work for the government, you are not allowed to promote your religion in the context of your work. On the top of a plethora of reasons, it's to avoid favoritism and exclusion. I know it's hard to deviate from your own egocentric points of view, but not everyone believes in our God.

-- A Christian in Pace, FL

A Christian in Orlando, FL said...

It's a shame these two men are not Muslim. I am sure if they had offered up a prayer to Allah during the luncheon they would have been applauded by the ACLU for being culturally diverse. For some reason only Christians get the title of being closed-minded.

Anonymous said...

Orlando, FL's comment is ridiculous. You can Google it for yourself: the ACLU sued the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (a 'Muslim' charter school) earlier this year.

In any case, an argument from circumstance does nothing to resolve the original issue. Frank Lay, as a government entity, promoted prayer at a school-sponsored event. No speculations on "special treatment" can change the fact that this was a violation of constitutional law.

-- A Christian in Pace, FL

Anonymous said...

I believe the amendment says the government cannot ESTABLISH a religion. It says nothing about any person saying a prayer. A person saying a single prayer, whether it be Muslim, Jew or Christian, or any other religion, is not ESTABLISHING a religious overthrow of the public school system in The U.S. I sincerly hope the judge has read the Constitution and can inform the ACLU of it's misintepertation.

Blake said...

Just a few corrections...One,the luncheon wasn't for students. It was for School employees and booster club members. Another thing noone is mentioning is that their was a clause in the settlement between the schoolboard and the ACLU that stated the class president and the student body president(specifically those two students) weren't allowed to spek at graduation,for the first time in 33 years, because they are Christians.

Anonymous said...

Actually, there are two clauses in the First Amendment of the US Constitution which determine the relationship between church and state: the Establishment Clause (Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...) and the Free Exercise Clause (...or prohibiting the free exercise thereof).

The Establishment Clause is not limited to the government establishing a religion (lol). The purpose of both clauses, and I quote Jefferson here, is to provide a "wall of separation between church and state." The Supreme Court picked up on the meaning that our Forefathers had intended to convey. Read on Lemon vs. Kurtzman. That case brought forth the Lemon test:
1. The government's action must have a secular legislative purpose;
2. The government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;
3. The government's action must not result in an "excessive government entanglement" with religion.

A government entity's prayer at a school function does not convey secularism. It does not convey neutrality with its bold declaration of favoritism and exclusion. And the level of entanglement is almost as excessive as it gets.

Blake, it was my understanding that the students who were prohibited from speaking at the graduation were excluded NOT because they were Christians, but because they had been chosen by the faculty to speak. The faculty, therefore, represented themselves through the students. If a student had decided to praise God, this reflected on the faculty. It would make us wonder what motivated the faculty to choose these particular students.

If the kids themselves had chosen a student to speak, that's fair. They can say whatever they wish because they're not government entities. In fact, I was at the most recent graduation, and a student (top of the class, I believe?) did speak on less secular terms. And that was fine!

See? The system works. You just have to understand it, and you have to respect it. People of all religions (or who are involved in the lack thereof, as the case may be) are protected this way.

--A Christian in Pace, FL

Phoebus said...

"God, Holy Father of all, I PRAY you make this the center of your Will."

Seriously?!? With all the problems going on today--including wars, ethnic cleansings, and literally millions of people starving to death--this is where you wish for the Almighty to focus His efforts?


Anonymous said...

The charges brought against the accused are not whether or not there was a prayer or "food blessing" done at a boosters luncheon after a court ordered injunction prevented the school district from "Permitting school officials to promote their personal religious beliefs and proselytize students in class or during school-sponsored events and activities." The criminal contempt charge is simply whether or not they displayed "WILLFUL failure to comply with a court order," (As defined by Florida law).

From the series of internal memos between Lay and Wyrosdick (superintendent):

"My actions were overt and not meant to circumvent any court order..." ~ Lay memo to Wyrosdick 2/4/2009

"In a meeting at Pace High School…You shared that you are, and were, at the date of this incident aware that this type of action is not permissible under the injunction. You also shared that your action was not intentional in circumventing the court order." ~ Wyrosdick memo to Lay 2/5/2009

This does not say he willingly violated the court injunction. It indicates that as of the date of said meeting, including some time on the date of the luncheon, he was aware that that type of action was not permissible - and on at least two occasions (the Lay memo to Wyrosdick and the meeting at Pace High thereafter) Lay admits to the wrong-doing after-the-fact, but insists at the time of the incident it was unintentional.

Principal Lay commented to the Pensacola News Journal, "We did what we normally do in the South before we eat," he said. "I wasn’t trying to hurt or offend anybody or cause any consternation."

Giving these people the benefit of the doubt and the right to presumption of innocence, isn’t it just as plausible that Lay didn’t realize any wrong-doing until after the luncheon had taken place and not at the exact moment that he initiated the "food blessing?"

The court must prove that they willingly and intentionally violated the injunction.

--A Patriot in Pace, FL

Anonymous said...

Patriot, willingness and willfulness are two different things. Willingness refers to someone's inclination to want to do something, a person is prepared to act a certain way. Willfulness is the intentionality of a person's actions, whether they are doing it purposefully. The difference seems subtle. But in court, there's a world of difference, with each term having their own specific legal definition.

Let's not be disingenuous. A person who unwillfully breaks a court order does so because they misunderstand the requirements of that court order. Judge Rogers told Frank Lay directly to stop "promoting, endorsing, or causing religious prayers during school-sponsored events."

What is there to misunderstand? Do you really believe that Frank Lay made this action involuntarily, "accidentally"? The man VIOLATED AN ORDER FROM A JUDGE, which was a result of LEGAL ACTIONS TAKEN AGAINST HIM MONTHS BEFORE, which was ENTIRELY RELEVANT TO THE CASE IN WHICH IT WAS ISSUED, and which was UNAMBIGUOUSLY SPELLED OUT TO HIM. How do you "misunderstand" that? How are you even forgetful and inattentive after something like that?

No, this was no unwillful, unintentional act. This is the act of a man who believes that he can get away with things because he thinks everyone has the same mindset as he does -- a haughty, grossly miscalculated act.

--A Christian in Pace, FL

Anonymous said...

"intensionality" ...really? hhhhmmm

Its funny, if a soldier is given an order that is unconstitutional (against UCMJ, or whatever), it is his obligation not to follow the order.

All I see is legislation from the bench and ACLU complicit 'mean spiritedness'. So much for an organization living up to its name.

Anonymous said...

You don't know unless you actually WENT to the school. It was obnoxious and absolutely uncalled for. I graduated class of 2009 and did the duel enrollment program for a year to get away from that ridiculous school. He's guilty.

Anonymous said...

>Seriously?!? With all the problems >going on today--including wars, >ethnic cleansings, and literally >millions of people starving to >death--this is where you wish for >the Almighty to focus His efforts?

Really, seriously - this is the Creator of the universe. Don't you think he can multitask?

Anonymous said...

I fail to see why offering a prayer of blessing is "obnoxious" or "illegal." Is America just swimming in such a surfeit of blessings that it has to haul people into court if they ask for more? If you don't want blessings, then go right ahead and deny yourself. But don't deny others. And don't tell me the founding fathers prohibited public prayer -- they prohibited the government dictating to people how, when, and where to pray. What good is a government that forcibly restricts your asking God for blessings? That government is not only NO GOOD, but a BAD NEWS. As for being offended by a prayer of blessing, if you don't believe in God, what of it? A blessing is a blessing, after all. Who wants to be without that? Why would it bother you if someone asks for blessings? If you hate God so much, go out and make up your own litany of curses to wallow in, but do it on your own time in private instead of telling everyone else to stop, STOP, for Pete's sake, asking for BLESSINGS! AHHH! Not more blessings! Help! Call a judge in because the we're just so afraid that prayer might be answered.

Becky said...

I really hate to see the "separation of church and state" quote misquoted...Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptists saying that he would act as a "wall of separation between church and state", yes, but he said that to reassure the Baptists that he would keep the government out of their religion, not the other way around. That was said to keep the government out of the church, not vice versa!

Anonymous said...

The whole lie about separation of church and state (so called) is an attempt by godless men to silence those with whom they disagree. First the whole term "Separation of Church and State" discriminates against Christians and Christians only. Examine the definition of "church" from Black's Law Dictionary:

"In its most general sense, the religious society founded and established by Jesus Christ, to receive, preserve, and propagate his doctrines and ordinances. It may also mean a body of communicants gathered into church order; body or community of Christians, united under one form of government by the profession of the same faith and the observance of the same ritual and ceremonies; place where persons regularly assemble for worship; congregation; organization for religious purposes; religious society or body; the clergy or officialdom of a religious body."

Notice there is no "separation of mosque and state" or no "separation of temple and state". By constant appeal to a pretended “separation of church and state” an ugly and destructive form of anti-Judeo-Christian bigotry is fully exposed. This is why Al Gore didn’t get in IRS trouble for the Buddhist Monks campaigning for him and why Islamists can demand prayer rooms and prayer times in public schools. This is nothing more than anti-Judeo-Christian persecution in its purest and most toxic form.

What these two men did was neither against nor contemptuous of law. The only people guilty of contempt are these villains, these enemies of human liberty who distort the law into a blunt instrument with which they bludgeon those who hold a Judeo-Christian worldview into silence. The ultimate and certain punishment of such men and women will be as terrible in its scope as it is eternal in duration.

Anonymous said...

Of course God can multi-task. He stands, by definition, outside of time and space so his "request processing interval" (RPI) has to be zero. If you take the limit of RPI --> 0 (as it approaches zero) you find that the number of request processed approaches infinity. Answering even the simplest prayer is easy for He who numbers the hairs of your head and sees every sparrow that falls to the earth. Q.E.D.

For people who attempt to lay exclusive claim to rationality, atheists are amazingly irrational, illogical, and lacking in the basic understanding of foundational things.

Anonymous said...

I applaud Lay for his prayer. As a Christian I am sure that Lay is not fearful of a Judge or anyone else (on a blog or elsewhere) who may think of him as being wrong because Lay knows the only one who matters is God. No matter the outcome of the situation he stayed true to his beliefs. The prayer that was spoken that day hurt no one and may very well have blessed someones life. It's sad that our judical system wastes time on trying to punish a man for praying when there are more criminal things to punish than prayer.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's very interesting that Christians are prohibited from "promoting, endorsing, or causing religious prayers during school-sponsored events." Try that on size for someone practicing Islam. No one could prohibit THAT. Whoever tried to keep a Muslim from publicly praying to Allah during school, or from promoting Islamic religious ideals during school and on school property, would be slapped with a violation of Constitutional rights so fast your head would spin. Hey, I know for a fact that not only is Islam promoted at schools, but courses about Islam are taught, as well courses on other false religions. There's your tax dollars at work for you! It's interesting to note that Christianity is the only religion under fire by government restrictions. Mention Jesus Christ is God and WOW! You're violating someone's rights. Mention Muhammad and Allah, however, and you get all kinds of government support, even financial support. Give me a break! How much more obvious does it have to be that the one true religion -- Christianity -- is the only one targeted for destruction? Yep. All the others are fostered and cultured and promoted, while Christianity is treated as the bane of existence. Government usurping our authority to publicly acknowledge and worship our God, Jesus Christ, is the real bane of existence. Separation of church and state means the state does not dictate to us how to obey God -- Jesus Christ does that. We obey God rather than men, period. And that God is our Savior and Redeemer, not a politician or a mixed-up Muslim.

Anonymous said...

Stop. Being. Ignorant. Fools.

These aren't actions being taken to suppress Christianity. Ever read about the lawsuit taken against Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy? Of course not. You're so convinced that this is about taking prayer out of schools and you're so convinced that Christianity is under attack that you taken a puerile, fanatical view without even having researched what this whole issue is about, haven't you?

Lemme help you out: YOU'RE WRONG. This is about government secularism. This is about government neutrality. As long as the Constitution is upheld, your children can pray in school -- and your government leaders won't brashly display favoritism or enmity toward any religious disposition.

Islam's the most rapidly expanding religious creed. The nonreligious population is greatly expanding, as well. The people in the comments complaining now will take a different view when they receive news of principals taking time at a school event to have everyone pray to Allah, or going on a rant about there being no God.

-A student at Pace High

Anonymous said...

Read about the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy. Read about the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy. Read about the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy. Read about the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy. Read about the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy.

If you're too dense to even try to comprehend the above comment, look into the actions recently taken against the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy in Minnesota.

This ISN'T about Christianity. Anyone who says so is either being disingenuous, or they're ignorant. It's about government neutrality.

Read about the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy!

Anonymous said...

Obviously the author of the article injected personal bias and was not a competent reporter. I prefer someone capable of reporting facts. The injection adjectives such as cowardice prove a lack of ability to be a reporter.

Hunter Smith said...

My name is Hunter Smith,
I go to Pace High and Frank "The Tank" Lay as we call him at school is one of the most religious man i've ever known, I saw him come out of court that day down at the Pensacola courthouse and a huge smile ran across my face. I'm a freshman there and this is the last year he'll be Principle before he retires, may god be with him.

Anonymous said...

you are so foolish.

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