On Tuesday, January 9, 2018, I stood trial. I stood accused of Disorderly Conduct: Loud and Raucous Noise, causing distress to people inside a public building. This article will provide a snapshot of the trial, the verdict, and the sentencing.
The Parties and the People’s Burden
Prosecutor, representing the Johnson County and the State of Iowa: Assistant Johnson County Attorney, Andrea L. Jensen. Andrea was assisted by another prosecutor.
Presiding Judge: Magistrate Edward J. Leff.
Defense: Jack Edwards and Todd Klapatauskas. Both men very kindly and generously defending me, pro bono.
The state’s case rested upon the testimony of three witnesses:
- Michael Bailey, Senior Manager for Safety and Security, with Planned Parenthood of the Heartland
- Officer Jeffrey Schmidt, Iowa City Police Department
- Officer Brad Reinhard, Iowa City Police Department.
- Proving the elements of the crime, beyond a reasonable doubt:
- the noise I made was both loud and raucous
- that the noise caused people distress
- the allegedly distressed people were inside a public building at the time of the incident.
The day began with paneling a jury of six people (five women and one man).
What the evidence actually showed:
- On May 30, 2017, at approximately 10:00 AM, I was standing on a public sidewalk, approximately 60 feet from the front door of Planned Parenthood, in Iowa City.
- I was reading my Bible aloud, without the aid of amplification.
Michael Bailey testified that my voice could be heard inside the building and that, in his opinion, people in the waiting room were distressed. He heard people in the waiting room talking about me and he saw people shuffling in their seats. That’s it.
No one to whom I allegedly caused distress was either identified or testified.
We were not allowed to make a defense on constitutional grounds, regarding freedom of speech.
The judge overruled our argument that a “public building” is one that is owned/controlled by the public/government. A “public building” is not simply a building accessible to the public. He refused to make a distinction between a business opened to the public and a public-owned building (i.e. courthouse, public school, public library, etc.).
The insistence of the prosecuting attorneys throughout the trial was that I was not on trial for whatI said, but rather for the way I said it.
As the defendant, I was not required to testify. I decided to testify because I wanted the people in the courtroom to hear the gospel.
The jury deliberated for about 30-45 minutes. They returned with a unanimous guilty verdict.
I requested immediate sentencing, and the judge obliged.
I was sentenced to:
- 30 days county jail (suspended). This means so long as I am not arrested again or violate probation during the next year, I will not have to go to jail on this conviction.
- One year of self-supervised probation.
- Do not have contact with any Planned Parenthoods during the next year.
- Pay a fine of $135, plus court costs.
During sentencing, the judge made his displeasure with me known. My attorneys well-argued that I said nothing offensive, abusive, or threatening while outside Planned Parenthood, but that I simply read the Bible. I testified that I wanted people inside Planned Parenthood to hear me–not to cause them distress, but rather to bring them hope and peace in Christ.
However, during sentencing, the judge likened me telling people they were sinners who needed to turn to Jesus to cursing at people. The judge’s words left me convinced that my arrest, conviction, and sentencing were indeed about the content of my message, on May 30, outside Planned Parenthood. My conviction was the result of reading the Bible. My conviction was the result of proclaiming the gospel.
On Wednesday, my elders spent a good portion of their weekly meeting discussing how best to counsel and support me, in light of my conviction. Yesterday, my elders and I spent a few hours discussing how best to proceed. We all agreed the best and right thing to do is to appeal my conviction to higher courts.
My reason for appealing my conviction is not merely to overturn my conviction, for my own benefit. I realize that while I am no one from nowhere, my conviction can and will likely be used against other Christians ministering outside of abortuaries, or anywhere on the streets for that matter. To the extent that I am able, I simply cannot and will not allow that to happen. I love the Bride of Christ. I cannot stand by and do nothing while others use my conviction to try to hurt my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Please pray that we are able to quickly find good attorneys to represent me in the appeal process.
Rich LaHue says
I have been praying for you. Thank you for the update. I am sorry to hear about your persecution. I will continue to pray and watch for updates.
Barry Atwell says
Praise God for your courage. You did the right thing even if what you were doing was illegal and the law was constitutional. Upon appeal, you should be able to bring up the constitutionality of the overly broad statute. Causing distress is too broadly defined to be constitutional in that it gives a heckler’s veto. Of course you caused distress, but you also gave a cure for the distress. That cure is repentance and trust in Jesus Christ.
I am praying for you, brother.
Mike Matthey says
2 tim. 3 :12 yea,and all that will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.. Keep preaching Gods word im praying for you and all others that aren’t afraid to tell people the truth no matter what the consequences are.
Dave Felber says
All to His Glory praying for you Brother
Bill O’Neill says
I praise God for His work through you and this ministry. I will continue to keep you and your church leadership in prayer as this saga rolls on.
Matt Becker says
Hey Brother Tony,
Just read this.. Thank you so much for making a stand for the truth, even when it costs! You are a huge encouragement to myself and many others. Will definitely be praying for strength for you and your family and church through this time and God to be glorified through it all. Praying that many come to Christ through this. Will be praying for great Christian representation in court as well. I’d think ACLJ would be willing to take that one on. Blessings to you and your family. II Cor 1:3-7, Phil 1:12
There’s plenty of judicial precedent to overturn this complete and unfortunate ruling by this court and this judge. This should of never gone to trial in the first place. I pray that on appeal your conviction will be overturn. I praise God for your courage and unwavering commitment to Christ and His Gospel. May God grant you peace during this time. James
Nick Jackson says
Dear Brother Tony,
I’m thankful for your faithfulness to the Gospel. I”m reminded of Philippians Ch. 1:
The Gospel Is Preached
12 Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, 13 so that my [i]imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole [j]praetorian guard and to everyone else, 14 and that most of the [k]brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my [l]imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.
May the LORD strengthen you this night,
C. Bess says
Listening to you testify via SermonAudio; it really blessed and encouraged me. We are praying for you in Texas. May the Lord embolden you even more and give you great strength and wisdom in continuing to preach the gospel faithfully. Love you brother! Soli Deo gloria
Tony Miano says
THANK YOU!!! 🙂
Andre McKenzie says
Praying for you brother. Thank you for your faithfulness to preach the Gospel to this Kangaroo court. You have been singled out for the content of what you preach not the manner of which you preach it. Continue to preach boldly and with a loving heart towards the lost. May God continue you to bless you and your family.
Joe P. says
While I don’t know exactly what was said in the court room, I suspect the judge and the jury (and anyone else in the court) heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. They did not have an excuse before for their hatred of God and there condemnation is even more certain now. May God grant them repentance and faith in Jesus Christ before it is too late.
Joe P. says
Listening to the case. The judgment of God is upon this land when we have such clearly biased post modern judges who hate God and who are more concerned with people’s “feelings” than what is righteous, Judges who consider calling someone to come away from their deadness in sin, their rebellion to God to repentance on the same level as yelling at someone with expletive profanities.
This nation is not the nation I grew up in, where truth and justice used to mean something. This nation has fallen from God’s grace, not entirely, but it has fallen. May God grant this nation with the blessing of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.