AkCLU attorney to assist 'banner' student

Posted: Monday, February 04, 2002

JUNEAU - In cooperation with the Alaska Civil Liberties Union, a Juneau attorney will assist Juneau-Douglas High School senior Joseph Frederick as he appeals his suspension for displaying a banner stating "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" as the Olympic torch passed the school last month.

School officials confiscated the banner and suspended Frederick and one other student on grounds that the drug-referencing banner violated school policy and viewing the torch was a school-sanctioned event. Frederick claims his free speech rights were violated.

AkCLU Executive Director Jennifer Rudinger said attorney Doug Mertz will accompany Frederick to district hearings as he appeals his 10-day suspension.

"We did find a cooperating attorney willing to go with him to try to work this out without going to court," she said. "We're hoping to resolve this amicably."

Should the case go to litigation, Rudinger said further research would be required before the AkCLU commits resources. Frederick appealed his suspension to the school district last week. Mertz said this morning that he had not received word of a hearing date.

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