Closing arguments set in JFK merchandise trial

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by SEBASTIAN ROBERTSON

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaasebastian

WFAA

Posted on June 11, 2014 at 4:47 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 11 at 6:23 PM

DALLAS — Both sides rested Wednesday in the federal civil rights trial surrounding longtime JFK conspiracy theorist Robert Groden.

Groden is suing the city claiming several of his Constitutional rights were violated during a 2010 arrest at Dealey Plaza for selling merchandise at a park without a permit.

Groden claimed he spent nine hours inside the county jail, and had his merchandise confiscated for about a year.

After a two-and-a-half year legal battle, an appeals court ultimately threw out all criminal charges against Groden, essentially finding no such permit existed.

Now Groden is suing the City of Dallas for damages caused by that arrest, and claims that his civil rights were violated.

On advice of his attorney, Groden would not comment to reporters during the trial, but his lawyer, Brad Kizzia, did.

"It's not legal, or even appropriate use of police services and limited services to throw him in jail for selling a magazine that promotes a particular point of view on a controversial subject," Kizza said outside the Federal Courthouse early Wednesday afternoon.

Taking the witness stand Wednesday, Groden described his interaction with the arresting officer, Sgt. Frank Gorka, in 2010.

"I tried to reason with Gorka... I knew the issues, the ruling, and the law, and I wanted to protect my right to free speech and commercial free speech," Groden said. "I did not want to be silenced."

On Tuesday, Gorka testified that Groden's arrest was based on fact, and he said he checked with the Park Department before making an arrest.

Attorneys for the City of Dallas say it is clear the arresting officer was operating on facts, and was in no way motivated by content.

"The thinking for my arrest started with repeated calls. I gave him an alternative place to sell on Dealey Plaza," Gorka testified on Tuesday. "I encouraged him to seek legal remedy... I felt my only option was to make an arrest."

Groden claims that selling books, DVDs and magazines based on his research is his only source of income. He said he wants to be compensated for legal fees and income he lost, but more importantly, he says he wants to send a message — his story cannot be silenced.

Closing arguments in the case are scheduled for Thursday morning.

E-mail srobertson@wfaa.com

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