Boulder City, Nevada, Attorneys Honored for Work Protecting Citizens from Free Speech Attack by City

Mon, Feb 28 2011

(LAKE RIDGE, VA) – Today, Citizens in Charge Foundation, a national voter rights group focused on the ballot initiative and referendum process, presented attorneys Tracy and Linda Strickland of Boulder City, Nevada, with the February 2011 John Lilburne Award. The Stricklands are representing a group of Boulder City citizens who, in pursuing several local initiative measures, have been repeatedly sued by the city.

“What’s going on in Boulder City is nothing short of government officials trying to intimidate citizens into silence,” said Citizens in Charge Foundation President Paul Jacob. “Thank goodness the Stricklands have defended these citizens to protect fundamental First Amendment rights against a city bullying its citizens with slap-happy lawsuits aimed at blocking their political participation.”

Tracy and Linda Strickland represent citizens sued by the Boulder City attorney last year for circulating petitions to put several measures on the ballot. The city first filed lawsuits against these citizens to block the issues from going on the ballot, but the citizens prevailed in court. Then, after voters approved a number of the measures, the city again sued claiming the measures are not legally permissible.

“Local governments have no business suing the individual citizens petitioning to place an initiative on the ballot,” Jacob said. “This is abusive and the ugly appearance is that Boulder City is willing to sue any citizen if those in public office don’t like the ballot initiative being presented.”

The Stricklands have filed motions in three separate cases concerning voter-enacted local initiatives, asking the court to dismiss the city’s lawsuits as violations of Nevada’s SLAPP statute. SLAPP stands for “strategic lawsuit against public participation.” In District Court, while the various judges noted that they were troubled by the city’s litigation, the suits have been permitted to proceed. The Stricklands have appealed those decisions to Nevada’s Supreme Court and asked the state’s highest court to combine the three cases.

“The freedom of citizens to petition their government must be protected,” added Jacob. “The Stricklands work to defend and secure these rights is something we honor with this month’s award.”

In addition to representing these citizens in court, Linda Strickland also sits on the Boulder City Council

Each month, Citizens in Charge Foundation presents the John Lilburne Award to a citizen, or citizens, working to protect and defend the First Amendment petition rights of Americans.  John Lilburne was a 17th Century English pamphleteer, political activist, and champion of individual rights who advocated constitutional government and pioneered the use of petitioning and referenda for redress against government power and abuse. For a complete list of past Lilburne Award winners please click here.

ABOUT CITIZENS IN CHARGE FOUNDATION:
Citizens in Charge Foundation is the only national transpartisan voter rights group dedicated to protecting and expanding the ballot initiative and referendum process. We believe good government starts with the voter. For more information visit us at: www.CitizensInChargeFoundation.org.

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