HARTFORD, Connecticut, January 19, 2010 ( – Officials in Hartford, Connecticut have agreed to a permanent injunction against the use of a “breach of peace” statute and a “public disturbance” statute that was used to arrest and imprison a man who was preaching on public property.

While proclaiming a religious message in the city of Hartford, Jesse Morrell was approached by a police officer who told him that he could not use a microphone without a permit.  Morrell agreed to speak without a microphone. Nonetheless, after a business owner complained about Morrell’s speech even without the microphone, police arrested him and took him to jail because he would not agree to stop speaking altogether.

In 2006, ADF attorneys filed suit against the city on a behalf of Morrell.

After the city prosecutor dropped the criminal charges against Morrell, ADF attorneys filed suit in federal court for violation of his First Amendment rights.  ADF attorneys and city of Hartford officials have agreed to settle out of court. 

“Christians shouldn’t be penalized for their beliefs,” said ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Jon Scruggs.  “The First Amendment protects all speech, including speech with which others may disagree.  Cities cannot hide behind a statute as a means of silencing constitutionally-protected speech.”