by Dale Chappell
It took a jury just nine minutes to come back with a verdict of “not guilty” in the trial of a man charged with blaring the 1988 N.W.A. rap song in the direction of police performing a traffic stop at a gas station in Pontiac, Michigan.
“I think someone [on the jury] went and used the bathroom or something,” the lawyer for James Webb, the defendant, said about the verdict. “The jury was shaking their heads the entire time.”
Webb was charged with a misdemeanor noise complaint and faced a $500 fine, plus possible jail time if convicted, after he blared the song. Webb said he pulled up near the police and turned up his radio. “I knew what I was doing,” Webb said. “I went over there with all my windows down, the music was loud.” He said he intended for the police to hear it “as a form of protest.”
The police report called the music offensive and vulgar.
Webb went to court six or seven times, his lawyer Nicholas Sombergsaid. The case changed judges three times. The prosecutor argued at length for a trial closed to the public, even though the Constitution requires a public trial.
The only person who testified was the deputy who wrote the ticket. Webb didn’t have to say a word. When asked if he would have written the citation for violating the city’s noise ordinance if Webb had blared Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the deputy said he would have.
The jury was “looking at the cop like, ‘what a liar,’” Somberg said.
“The judge shot it down totally,” he said of the prosecutor’s attempts to close the courtroom to the public. Somberg said the prosecutor really should have dismissed the case, but “they’ve got money to burn.”
Somberg represented Webb for free after seeing Webb’s case go viral on social media. “I thought it was just something stupid from the internet,” he said. But “Nope!”
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