Sunday, November 23, 2008

Conviction For Interfering With Business Does Not Violate Free Exercise Rights

In Sherman v. Yolo County, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92800 (ED CA, Nov. 6, 2008), a California federal district court rejected a habeas challenge by a defendant, now in prison, who was convicted of intentionally interfering with a lawful business by obstructing customers (CA Penal Code 602.1). Joseph Sherman was aggressively preaching and handing out Bible materials to people entering and leaving Longs Drugs in Davis (CA). He became hostile when asked to leave. The court rejected Sherman's claim that his 1st Amendment speech and free exercise rights were violated. It found that the state statute under which Sherman was convicted is a rationally-based neutral law of general applicability.