Jury Awards $200K to Virginia Newsman Banned from School

October 20, 2009

A federal jury has awarded $200,000 to a newspaper publisher after deciding the Buchanan County School Board unconstitutionally banned him from school grounds.

The jury in Abingdon, Virginia ruled Thursday after a three-day trial on a lawsuit filed by Earl Cole of The Voice, a twice-monthly newspaper.

U.S. District Judge James Jones issued an order overturning the board’s ban.

Cole says critical articles he wrote angered the School Board, which voted in October 2006 to bar him from school property.

Board members say they banned Cole because of safety concerns. They say it appeared he was trying to hide outside a school and take pictures of students.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in May dismissed board members as individual defendants.

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