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$10,000 Cowboy Hat


People in Lincoln County New Mexico take their cowboy hats and constitutional rights seriously and they donít take it lightly when  local officials try to remove either. Tony Seno was wearing his western-style hat while speaking at the podium to an elected board in May 2005. When Seno was asked to remove his hat while speaking he refused. At the next meeting former commission chairman Rick Simpson ordered Sena removed when he showed up wearing the same cowboy hat. Seno brought a lawsuit against Lincoln County, alleging that his first Amendment rights were violated by Simpsonís order. The suit, filed in August 2005, originally sought $2 million. He asked for a preliminary and permanent injunction, for $750,000 in compensatory damages and $1.2 million in punitive damages. Simpson was named as defendant in his official capacity and personally. Seno accused county officials of violating his right to free speech, of intentional infliction of emotional distress, of false arrest or seizure, and of violating his equal protection under the law.As part of a settlement reached, county officials confirmed that the parties had agreed to resolve the dispute after the county paid $10,500 to Seno. Seno said the important concept established was that the average citizen has the protection of the Constitution, no matter how much money he has or the position he holds.

Source: Ruidoso News

March 25, 2008

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