FFRF sues Texas sheriff over cross decals (June 13, 2016)

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The Freedom From Religion Foundation and two of its members filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas, Alpine Division, on March 2, 2016, against Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson over his decision to affix Latin cross decals on county patrol vehicles. Local plaintiffs Kevin Price and Jesse Castillo, both atheists and members of FFRF, had come in regular contact with the Christian displays numerous times while out driving in the county. They do “not believe in any supernatural beings” and object to “an exclusively Christian religious symbol” being displayed on their county’s patrol vehicles, the suit noted.

Shortly after the suit was filed, Brewster County removed the crosses from its patrol vehicles. The county later voted to accept FFRF’s terms of settlement, written into a consent decree, in which the county agrees not to place cross decals on Sheriff’s Office vehicles in the future. The County also agreed to pay each individual plaintiff $1 in nominal damages, a symbolic acknowledgement of past constitutional violations against them, as well as $22,370 in attorneys fees and court costs.

While pleased with the outcome of this case, FFRF notes that Brewster County could have saved itself time and money by voluntarily removing the crosses in response to FFRF’s December 2015 letter to the sheriff

FFRF Staff Attorneys Sam Grover and Patrick Elliot worked with Houston-based attorney Randall Kallinen to secure the victory. The case, no. 4:16cv-14, was ordered dismissed by Judge Robert A. Junell on June 13, 2016, pursuant to the consent decree.

Freedom From Religion Foundation