Franklin County noose case to be heard by VA Supreme Court Wednesday
FRANKLIN CO., Va. (WSET) -- Should you be able to put anything you want in your yard? That's the question going before the Virginia Supreme Court Wednesday.
Jack Turner was sentenced to 6 months in jail back in 2015 for displaying a noose and dummy on his front yard in Rocky Mount.
He also posted a sign saying "Black n***** lives don't matter- Got rope?"
When asked about that sign at his sentencing, Turner told the court that his sign was a lapse in judgement, but was not intended to threaten his neighbors. He explained, "I was showing my disdain for the Thanksgiving- after Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday shopping spree, where a group was blocking entrances in Chicago."
As for the part of the sign where Turner wrote "got rope," Turner said that was just bad penmanship on his part. "It was supposed to say got roots, not got rope. When I wrote the last part, it came down and made it look like it said got rope," said Turner.
Turner's attorney says he should be allowed to put whatever he wants on his yard, but state law bans nooses from being visible from public roadways. At an appeals court hearing, Turner's attorney Holland Perdue said, "Mr. Turner's yard is his private property, even though it's visible from a public place."
Perdue added, "I've always said I don't agree with the statement that was made but I mean we've got the First Amendment to keep in mind here."
In Virginia vs. Black, a case from 2003, the Supreme Court decided that the state of Virginia can criminalize speech that is intended to intimidate or threaten, added that cross burning is not covered by free speech.
While the court hears, that, a civil case has been filed in Franklin County Circuit Court. In that case, 4 of Turner's neighbors have filed, suit against him. In court documents, their attorney Will Davis, says this falls under VA 8.01-42.1: Civil action for racial, religious, or ethnic harassment, violence or vandalism.
Along with that, Turner could also be at risk of going back to jail . During sentencing Franklin County's Judge Joseph Canada, told Turner he would go to jail for 6 months, but also gave him a 4 and a half year suspended sentence, saying Turner couldn't intimidate his neighbors.
However, sources who took this picture say it is from November. They say the figure was hanging from a rope on Turner's front porch.
Turner's attorney, Holland Perdue, doesn't deny the accuracy of the picture, but issued a statement saying "The items shown in the picture are mere Halloween decorations." The statement goes on to say "Mr. Turner and his mother have used the same decorations for years."
Perdue ended his statement, adding "This office is not aware of any complaints or reports being made against Mr. Turner regarding these decorations."
The Commonwealth's Attorney, AJ Dudley, said he was not aware of the pictures. The Sheriff's Office seconded that sentiment.