Judge Fines KY Gay Couple One Cent For Trespassing In County Clerks Office During Marriage Protest
A Louisville, Kentucky gay couple who were found guilt of trespassing of refusing to leave the county clerk’s office after being they asked for and was denied a marriage license in protest has been fined the astronomical sum of $0.01 by the sympathetic jury who heard the case.
After three hours of testimony in which their lawyers hailed them for their civil disobedience, while the prosecution urged jurors to stick to the facts, Blanchard and James were convicted Tuesday of trespassing — but fined only a penny. Blanchard called the penalty a vindication of their protest in support of same-sex marriage. “It shows they understood what we were doing,” he said after jurors returned their verdict following 90 minutes of deliberations.
James’ lawyer, Annie O’Connell, said the fine may have been the smallest ever imposed in a criminal trial in Kentucky. Blanchard’s counsel, Ted Shouse, said in court that he had never tried a case in which the maximum penalty — $250 — “was so low and the stakes were so high.” Jessie Halladay, a spokeswoman for the county attorney’s office, said after the verdict that prosecutors had no choice but to take the case to trial. “We respect the right of the defendants to protest, but we also respect the law, and the law doesn’t distinguish what causes are worth breaking the law for,” she said.
To top it off the judge waived the payment of the penny fine.