Judge denies request for summons
by GREG KAYLOR, Banner Staff Writer
Jul 24, 2013 | 1538 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bradley County General Sessions Judge Sheridan Randolph on Tuesday denied a Cleveland businessman’s request to have a summons issued for City Manager Janice Casteel and At-Large City Councilman George Poe after the businessman accused the two of removing signs from his property.

Dan Rawls stated in his affidavit for the criminal summons that Poe and Casteel came to his business July 11, when Gov. Bill Haslam was in town, and took the signs down.

The signs reportedly were in protest of Haslam and Common Core, an educational standards program.

Rawls filed the complaint with the court which was denied Tuesday by Randolph.

Rawls sought to charge Poe and Casteel with vandalism, criminal trespass and official oppression.

In the affidavit, Rawls cited the signs were political in nature.

“This (court) was not the place to handle this type of complaint,” Randolph said. “It had political components.”

Poe said during a phone interview today that the signage, which was handmade with spray paint, was “clearly on the city right of way.”

“I didn’t remove any signs, but did go with Janice and we didn’t get on Mr. Rawls’ property,” Poe said.

Poe also said photos were taken of the signs and their location on the right of way.

Poe also said he contacted police after Rawls approached Casteel in a verbally abusive manner.

According to Rawls’ statement in the affidavit he filed, seven police vehicles arrived at his business.

He also noted that he felt his “... First Amendment rights under the Constitution had been violated,” regarding Freedom of Speech.

A telephone message left this morning at Rawls’ place of business, which is located across the street from South Cleveland Community Center where Haslam visited earlier this month, was not returned by press deadlines.

Rawls did not appear before the Cleveland City Council on Monday which was the governing body’s first meeting since the alleged incident over the signs almost two weeks ago.