In a tremendous victory for Judicial Watch and our supporters, a U.S. District Court in California has declared 75-year-old veteran Robert Rosebrock not guilty of violating federal law for allegedly displaying two four-by-six inch American Flags above a Veterans Affairs (VA) fence on Memorial Day, May 30, 2016.
The ruling was handed down in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (United States of America v. Robert L. Rosebrock, (CC11, 4920201; 4920202; 6593951).
Rosebrock had been charged with hanging the two napkin-sized American Flags on a section of the fence adjacent to the Great Lawn Gate at the entrance to the Veterans Park in violation of a VA regulation prohibiting the displaying of “placards” or posting “materials” on VA property without authorization.
Rosebrock’s attorneys successfully argued that the VA’s case in chief did not, and could not, meet its burden of proving the charge as the VA violated Rosebrock’s Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, and the VA’s evidence fell short of proving Rosebrock posted the American Flags without permission.
Judicial Watch’s legal team also successfully obtained dismissal before trial of two separate charges that Rosebrock illegally photographed VA police on the ground that the VA regulation was not reasonable, even under the most lenient First Amendment standard.
Rosebrock, 75, and fellow veterans have been assembling at the site nearly every Sunday and Memorial Day since March 9, 2008, to protest what they believe is the VA’s failure to make full use of the valuable West Los Angeles property for the benefit and care of veterans, particularly homeless veterans.
Judicial Watch attorney Sterling E. Norris, a former Los Angeles County deputy district attorney, and Los Angeles-based defense attorney Robert Patrick Sticht represent Rosebrock, who faced up to six months’ imprisonment if found guilty on the flag-hanging charge.
Now that the court has rightly dismissed the government’s outrageous charge against Mr. Rosebrock, we hope that he and his fellow patriots will be allowed to honor the flag and commemorate their fellow veterans, as they deem appropriate. This should never have gone this far, and we are pleased that Judicial Watch was able to step in and help Mr. Rosebrock.