Residents win suit against city of Mt. Juliet regarding election sign ordinance
Mt. Juliet residents, who recently challenged a city sign ordinance, won the lawsuit settlement after a consent order between the city and city resident plaintiffs.
Residents challenged the city of Mt. Juliet with a federal lawsuit which took issue with an ordinance that allowed only two yard signs advocating for municipal, state, and federal elections.
The issue fell under the spotlight after Democratic candidate for State Representative, Trisha Farmer, made public of the issue following a Republican Headquarters opening in Mt. Juliet.
Opponent, Rep. Susan Lynn (R), attended the said Republican Headquarters grand opening which celebrated a weekend event recently.
The event was held at the old railroad bed building on N. Mt. Juliet Road where the headquarters is currently located for the election term.
Many signs of local candidates and state candidates were displayed in the windows and exterior of the building, which is what sparked the attention of candidate Farmer and a couple of Mt. Juliet residents regarding the issue.
The suit concluded a victory by the plaintiffs. Under the ordinance, these signs would only be allowed for 60 days before elections and would have to be taken down five days after the election period.
In a consent order agreed to by the city and the plaintiffs, residents will be able to have two yard signs advocating elections any time of year and up to 10 signs within 60 days of an election period.
According to the attorneys defending the challenging residents, by agreeing to the consent order, Mt. Juliet admitted that it’s sign ordinance violated the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech.
Mt. Juliet Mayor, Ed Hagerty, commented, “The issue at hand was a misrepresentation which was cleared up.”
Gino Marchetti, Mt. Juliet’s city attorney, added to the mayor’s statement, “It is unfortunate that a lawsuit was filed which made it necessary for the resources of the City of Mt. Juliet to be expended unnecessarily. This entire matter was resolved prior to any litigation being filed and if there were any questions remaining, a simple phone call would have resolved this matter in its entirety.”
City attorney Marchetti continued to explain the city’s stand on the issue, “Certainly, the City respects and encourages the freedom of expression of each of its citizens. No such restriction was placed upon any residents or citizens of Mt. Juliet as each citizen was always free to post a temporary sign, either to express a particular philosophy, support a candidate, or express an opinion. Rather than continue to waste limited city resources by continuing this litigation, the City chose the wiser and most beneficial course for its citizens by entering into a consent order offering very slight amendments to one section of the Mt. Juliet sign ordinance.”