Phoenix pastor jailed for holding bible study in home
Legal panel weighs in on the case
- Duration 6:35
- Date Jul 11, 2012
Legal panel weighs in on the case
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Still escorted back in session on the docket today -- Phoenix pastor ordered to spend sixty days in jail and find thousands of dollars.
For holding -- Bible study in his house.
Pastor Michael -- and his wife have been hosting Bible studies in their home for years but last week police raided a house let us let them.
City officials claim he was praying no hit -- They say he was violating building code laws and accuse of not running an operation.
-- reminiscent of a home church without the require permits.
His sentence as they mentioned jail time more than a 121000 dollar fine along with three years probation.
The city said this is about safety.
And respect of neighbors he says his rights are being violated.
As long as we were using the building for social.
Or recreational or amusement purposes.
It was fun but the moment we.
Made the building -- -- religious use.
It became a violation the city has an obligation.
Because there's a liability -- happens if somebody gets a fire breaks out when somebody.
Joining me now John a -- or former prosecutor now defense attorney.
And Mercedes Colin was a Fox News legal analyst RX -- some -- -- case for why the city thinks this is appropriate to go after the stack.
I'm telling their building codes for reason and then nothing do with religious freedom is nothing to do it gathering of individuals we know that you have the inalienable right to do that.
But you've got building codes for a reason you -- -- Structure you have multiple people -- that structure.
Not for big there's a fire where these where the exit -- Where -- these people going to go.
You know when that when there's an agent and circumstance like a fire people panic they run around the scoring -- a place looking for for opening to get out of that structure that's another formal -- you should the picture Megan.
It's incredible how that struck John thinking -- -- a tent.
Now you look at this this looks like a mini church.
In a local community that you can.
See -- and kinda does -- let you know -- -- this it was like guy gotten you know arrested for having Bible study in his house like that what but then.
-- you read the history he places sign outside the property with the name of the church there was a podium inside folding chairs.
-- -- for property tax exemption as a church I mean it sounds like that -- was operating a church not just the Bible study.
You know this is such an interesting argument because there are good points and bad points on both sides but the -- point basically is that with -- I can have twenty people at my house tomorrow for a party for Tupperware party a book club you -- for entertainment purposes I don't -- at that time.
Nobody gonna throw me in jail for sixty days.
He is our admitted their for a why can't I do what I've not read the Bible as opposed to reading fifty -- and -- why am I now violating all the zoning ordinance that.
I think it's a great argument that -- ninth circuit doesn't agree with me let them but it's a decent argument.
That receives is at that this city allowed him to build the structure -- they didn't say no you can't do that that's private residential property you can't build that.
Also -- -- -- -- now come and say all but you can't use it as you want to.
Well it depends on what the structures used for a fight if there was a (%expletive) if he's -- doing is storing it.
-- their their lawn apparently this morning have acres of Juan.
If there's storing any of the of their tools and whatnot but just about -- 2030 people -- that location.
That just changes everything.
Because with that structure you've got the you've got building codes for a reason an alt well down to one word safe they want to thank you -- they came forward if there was a shed.
We wouldn't be -- About it do what -- -- it does it matter that you put other people in it you have people at risk are overseas tired to cross and satellite data -- there.
McDonough to what extent does it matter you know the parking -- talking about maybe twenty people showing up the parking in him you know in in defense of the city.
Then neighbors don't like that every week -- -- -- -- people crowd the grass -- of the area like that I don't want that next to me and this was all good until a neighbor complained.
But I think that argument goes along with this argument if -- if -- -- thirty cars.
Are not members of the public in general another with this now aren't saying hey come -- it comes every one to my charge they're saying my friends my family by invitation.
Are coming to my property parking on my property we're not making a whole lot of noise we're not doing anything wrong.
Then leave us alone I think the fact that it it's not open to the general public.
Makes the big difference.
Is that transition at some point we're sitting in.
You know can I have twenty or thirty people over to my home for a party certainly -- can do that on Saturday night right you -- -- welcome as yours are about and bigger and better every dot.
So like I did Saturday okay but thank Kennedy that the next Saturday and the next Saturday and the next Saturday and the one after that no one after that -- one after that my neighbors had to keep putting up with the twenty cars in my driveway.
That is a great point because that's really the other issue to the neighbors -- same week.
We have the right to live in peace I mean there's all these laws across the nation about having a peaceful existence.
When you have neighbors but you have that type of distraction and -- multiple individuals in that in that particular stretch of the cars the noise.
That becomes an issue of random party no problem.
But -- in actual scheduled meeting every single week week after week there that's when the problem.
But the thing is Jon -- what the practices of the community -- relevant here what what is allowed and what isn't allowed.
And whether there's a targeting here based on religion is one of the questions that's been raised I want -- sound byte number six control -- if you have this here's the wife.
Well you listen.
It doesn't make sense you know people are crowding our streets other neighbors.
And that yet our people park all behind in our property and it just it makes no sense.
Why were being targeted.
And -- she says the parking and the irritation is not really not there so why is it illegal.
For the city to go after them if this is about.
The -- they don't want them doing this you know our religious practices and there.
I think they've got a great discrimination claim if this really is about religion because we have a a very good First Amendment argument there.
But I also think speaking to Mercedes other point I don't think that code in the city of Phoenix.
Give and you sort of difference between whether you're just having your friends over every -- because they're your friends you wanna play poker -- whether you're having a and religious organizational kind of meeting the may be the code need to be changed and that's gonna take the wind -- -- out of -- -- sales.
A lot of time -- guys get a serious penalty for doing this we'll see what happens ladies thank.