A jury trial in response to a Ross resident's complaint that his First Admendment right to free speech was violated in 2009 when he was removed from a Ross Township Board of Commissioners meeting will continue Wednesday.
William Ansell, of the 100 block of Fairley Road, filed a lawsuit in October 2009 after he was removed from a meeting on May 11 of that same year at the request of Commissioner Dan DeMarco.
Ansell was removed before he was to address the commission during a public comment period after his brother, Robert, spoke, according to the complaint.
Before addressing the Board, Commissioner DeMarco requested Mr. William Ansell be removed, since nothing new was being addressed.
Before being escorted out, Mr. William Ansell questioned whether he was being denied the right to discuss the large Opiela political signs throughout the township.
In response to the legal complaint, Ross Township's attorneys denied unlawful treatment.
DeMarco's attorney, Edmond Joyal, who is also one of the attorneys representing the township, told the jury that Ansell was removed only after he became disruptive, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
William Ansell's brother, Robert, and DeMarco were called Tuesday as witnesses. The witness list for the defense includes two additional commissioners, Chris Eyster and Pete Ferraro, and former Commission Chairman Dan Kinross, as well as township manager Wayne Jones, according to the court record.
The complaint, William Ansell vs. Ross Township, is filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and is being heard by Judge Arthur J. Schwab.
In addition to the First Admendment violation, the complaint also alleges retailiation by Ross Township officials for complaints made by Ansell over two years, claiming the Ross Township Police Department broke into his home and searched it without a warrant, that he was issued citations without probable cause, that officers wrote negative and false police reports and targeted his vehicle for parking violations.