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Zanna vs. Mohave County 1st Amendment Lawsuit Filed Today

• Luca Zanna himself!
 From the PDF:


On November 13, 2009 Mohave County residents gathered at the Mohave County Administrative Building for U.S. Senator John McCain’s Town Hall Meeting.

Gianluca Zanna and Bridget Langston-Zanna, who were present to attend the meeting, began to exercise their First Amendment rights to pass out flyers regarding Senator McCain’s voting record to other attendees at the Town Hall Meeting. When the passing of these flyers came to Defendant Buster Johnson’s attention, he immediately instructed them to stop. Defendant Johnson informed Mr. and Mrs. Zanna there was a law prohibiting them from such an act, and as private citizens “some of their freedom of speech rights were null and void on county property.” Mr. and Mrs. Zanna were informed they would be “escorted” out of the building if they continued to pass out Senator McCain’s voting record.

During the time these events took place, Senator McCain, his staff, and supporters were allowed to exercise their First Amendment rights and were permitted to pass out flyers and collect signatures.

Subsequent to the meeting, Mr. and Mrs. Zanna made numerous attempts to contact the Mohave County Board of Supervisors and the Mohave County Attorney to obtain an answer to the question of why First Amendment rights did not apply on county property. No response was received.

Mohave County Manager, Defendant Ron Walker, and Mohave County Supervisor, Defendant Tom Sockwell, chose to write derogatory letters about the Zannas and published them in local newspapers. These published letters were filled with lies and discriminatory remarks, launching a defamation of character assault.

Defendants fabricated and developed a county policy prohibiting political activities and opinions to be disseminated on county property, despite its use as a public forum, to deprive Mr. and Mrs. Zanna of their First Amendment rights. Such fabricated policy is evidenced by email correspondence between Defendants Walker and Ekstrom.

Such policy prohibiting political activity and opinions on county property, used as a public forum, is a violation of the First Amendment.

Defendant Sockwell wrote a derogatory letter to the local papers stating, “There is a good reason people are not allowed to politic on county property. ‘We the people’ should be able to carry out the public’s business without running a gauntlet of a soapbox activist like Zanna, Langston, or Hanoi Jane.” Soon after his letter was released, a follow up editorial from the Mohave County Manager was written. This editorial referred to Mr. Zanna as a part of a “lunatic fringe” and compared Mr. Zanna to Timothy McVeigh. This editorial from Defendant Walker was clearly intended to deride and defame Mr. Zanna by inferring that his behavior was that of a terrorist.

This incident was discussed on statewide television news programs with backdrop images of Timothy McVeigh and Gianluca Zanna. Mr. Zanna also felt it was unfair that Defendant Walker, on more than one occasion, referred to him as a “naturalized citizen” and a “former Italian National,” as if his behavior was attributable to the fact that he was not born an American citizen.

After numerous slanderous and libelous remarks, and comments and letters directed towards and about him, Mr. Zanna has become recognizable by the general public. An example of negative public recognition occurred during a visit to the post office, when Mr. Zanna was publicly embarrassed in front of at least twenty people when an employee asked him if, “he was the one that flew the plane into the IRS building.” These defamatory comments to Mr. Zanna are directly attributable to the slanderous and libelous public comments by Defendant Walker and Defendant Sockwell.

On or about April 20, 2010, Defendant Sockwell gave a public speech to the Bullhead Republican Women’s Association ridiculing and defaming Mr. Zanna, further damaging his reputation in an attempt to diminish Mr. Zanna’s position regarding the incident on November 13, 2009.

Mr. Zanna’s reputation and standing in the community has been damaged as a result of the actions of Defendants Walker and Sockwell.

Bridget Langston-Zanna has suffered as a result of the damage to her husband’s reputation and standing in the community and has also sustained damage to her reputation and standing in the community as a result of the above listed actions and incidents.

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