Highway blogger found not guilty

Jonas Phillips, the West Asheville man arrested for holding an “Impeach Bush/Cheney” sign over the Haywood Road/Interstate 240 overpass in August — a form of protest known as highway blogging — was found not guilty today on charges that he was obstructing the sidewalk and endangering motorists.

District Court Judge James Calvin Hill said that the prosecution had insufficient evidence to prove its case, as none of the arresting officers had observed any pedestrians being blocked by Phillips’ actions, and that he did not believe reactions from motorists who honked their horns was enough to prove his sign a dangerous distraction.

“I’ve been listening to both sides for clear signs that his actions were causing a significant problem for pedestrians and motorists,” Hill said. “Based on what I’ve heard, I can’t find that they did.”

Phillips’ attorney, William Auman argued that he was simply exercising his right to free speech and was targeted for the content of his sign. He said plenty of other legal activities are just as distracting to motorists.

“His activities were no more distracting than cell phones or bill boards,” Auman said. “They [the prosecution] didn’t even bring the sign to court, which could have given us a better idea of the situation. Their evidence clearly falls short.”

Assistant District Attorney Meredith Pressley countered in her closing argument that “the problem was not at all with his content, but his method of delivering it. He [Phillps] said that he chose this method because it gets a lot of attention, which distracted drivers from what should have been their primary duty of operating their vehicles. We’re not saying Mr. Phillips is a bad person, the officers said he was polite, but he did obstruct the sidewalk and endanger drivers at a busy time.”

Donations, many of them from local activists, paid the entirety of Phillips’ legal fees, which amounted to $750. Several sat in the court room, holding miniature American flags that they planned to cover their mouths with if Phillips was found guilty. Instead those flags ended up briefly waved in celebration when Hill announced his verdict.

Outside the courtroom afterwards, Phillips stood with his wife, Kendra Phillips, and their 7-year-old daughter, Oona.

“I’m very, very happy. This has been hanging over us for 7 months,” he told Xpress.

He said he intends to resume highway blogging in the future.

— David Forbes, staff writer


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8 thoughts on “Highway blogger found not guilty

  1. Donald De Bona

    Of course, the issue all along wasn’t Mr. Phillip’s exercise in free speech; it was the Asheville Police Department’s blatant disregard for Mr. Phillip’s constitutional rights and their subsequent arrest of Mr. Phillips on entirely fabricated charges. And just who is accountable for this bogus arrest and trumped up charges… possibly the Asheville Police chief who [now] tells us no public oversight is needed of his department? And while we consider this, let’s not forget the Buncombe County’s Sheriffs departments arrest (and then some) last year of the citizen who also dared to exercise his right of free speech when he flew the American flag upside down on his front porch as a sign of national distress.


    Very Good Donald you get it. The is permitted to be flown upside down in the US flag code under federal law
    The police are simply agencies, private corporations with Federal taxpayer numbers. They are security for the corporation known as the City Of Asheville whom they protect and serve. Police departments now operate entirely under public policy and public law, which is not law at all. Most of the police are of very limited intellect and actually believe that police policy trumps both Statutory and constitutional law, most of these young Nazis they place out in the street, fresh from a tour in Iraq (like the monster unleashed on the Kuhn’s) and who probably glow in the dark as a result of being exposed to depleted uranium, simply don’t care about the constitution, nor do they have the grey matter to understand it.

    The term officer is a total misnomer, they have no office created by the State legislature, nor are they officers of the court, another misconception, they are at best members of the executive branch, they do not have the ability to summons anyone to a court, as only judicial officials may do that.

    The reason they are called officers is because they are members of a Para Military organization, they also operate under a policy that they do not want you to know about called ‘THE USE OF FORCE CONTINUEM’ or response resistance policy. Under this policy, not law, they are authorized to use any force needed, up to deadly force in order to make you submit.

    They expect you to follow verbal commands; the whole operation is military in nature, afar cry from the cops of the past who were peace officers.
    Simply put these guys are armed, programmed and operate under policy rather law. If Marshall law is declared, which I believe it will be soon, God help us, if you want to see what it will be like look at some of the videos on you tube of troops killing puppies, also punch in police brutality on you tube, very disturbing indeed.
    I deal with them by quoting the constitution and statutory law, however part of their new federalized training infers and tells them that those who quote the constitution and assert their rights are possible domestic terrorists.

  3. Donald De Bona

    dear Dr. A,

    thanks for letting me know that I “get it”. Btw, my comments are in no way an endorsement of yours despite your gratuitous and patronizing nod. You are way out there with your frothing conspiracy theory and let’s all hope you’re way off base too.

  4. Although my sympathies align with liberals and the Democratic Party, I have to strongly disagree with the statements above by DR.ANTINEOCONUS (have I mentioned lately the double standard I feel is exercised on these forums by those who post incendiary comments under pseudonyms?)
    To make sweeping generalizations about those serving the community as police officers by claiming ‘most of the police are of very limited intellect’ seems very ironic to me. What is the basis for your argument? Do you have some kind of file of IQ tests to validate these claims?

    As to the signage issue described in the article, of course this makes me recall my own duel with the city regarding the PICNICS chicken suit incident that I was involved in. At that time, the Planning Commission attempted, with the threat of legal action, to shut down our practice of having the Chicken dance around in the parking lot and sidewalk of the Merrimon Avenue shop, claiming that when I donned the costume I became a “sign” which was outlawed by sign ordinances. Also, the officer of that department claimed it was a traffic hazard. After some legal intervening, the City decided not to pursue their claims, and we resumed our Chicken dancing.
    I agree with one of the citizens quoted in the article, that the objection to the Bush-Cheney sign was more of a matter of aesthetics, like the chicken suit, than an actual conflict about traffic safety and pedestrian right-of-way on the sidewalk. To debate the City’s officials regarding what appears to be selective, aesthetics-based enforcement of their dubious codes regarding signage is one thing; but to unfairly attack them with gross generalizations belittles the legitimate arguments of those who would seek to reject the City’s sometimes erroneous judgement–as manifested through the decisions of its public servants.

    If the “DR.” above truly would like to see the tenor of the relationship between the police and the citizens improve, perhaps he would consider the effect of such statements as he has made on this page. Do you really think that kind of diatribe makes the treatment you desire more likely?

  5. benzenokelly

    Jonas Phillips is a patriot. The founding fathers would be pleased. It takes men brave enough to stand up to the oppression of misguided government officials to make democracy work.


    Dear Jason
    my intention was not to exacerbate any situation between the police and the feudal serfs on the land they patrol like sheep dogs.
    1. 1.My intention was to one, show how in the last 30 years Police have morphed into a Para military organization engaged in the extortion of revenue from hapless ignorant U.S. citizens
    2. Show that the General Public does not know their rights in relation to the very limited powers the police have
    3. Dispel the idea that Police can lawfully summons anyone to court, which they, of course cant.
    4. Show how Police are operating under Public Policy, not law, as wittinessed by the hiway Blogger story. I strongly suspect The Hiway Blogger was not taken before a Magistrate, in the company of the officer, and allowed to confront his accuser. I doubt the officer filed an affidavit of probable cause in the form of an oath attached to a jurat signed in wet ink under the pains and penalties of perjury. The magistrate could then determine whether or not probable cause existed to warrant the arrest which was frivolous, again this shows how the lawful system has been circumvented
    5. My post showed that the Police operate under a policy that the General public and most Lawyers don’t even know about, called the “Use of force continuum”, that authorizes them to use any force necessary to make a “person” IE serf submit to their corporate jurisdiction
    6. To show how citizens, IE feudal serfs, on the corporate State plantation, are now being targeted by unlawful frivolous, extortion attempts to get them into commercial courts, who do not deal in constitutional issues and who deal exclusively under admiralty equity law, as witnessed by the fact the blogger was found Not Guilty, which is incidentally not the same as innocent, which is a term used in common law, which is the highest form of law. These courts are in most cases not even courts of record, especially, District Criminal Courts. Notice the blogger had to pay hefty legal fees , and pad the pockets of this corrupt system
    7. I’m sorry you misinterpreted my motives, my intentions were to shed light on an area that most sheeple are unfamiliar with. And yes Jason, believe it or not, there are polices in place for the hiring of candidates with IQs in a certain range. The upper Strata of the Police departments are staffed by individuals who are intelligent and who do know the law, they simply show those less intelligent officers how they may circumvent the law and the rights of people on the streets. Sorry you do not except this as reality Jason, it is the truth my friend and more often than not, the truth is not pretty.
    8. Id like to see peace officers back on the streets and not Para military Jack Booted thugs Operating under the Use of force Continuum, violating the rights of an already dumded down General Public, who I see robbed and taken advantage of By lawyers and corrupt judges without oaths of office
    9. Police have been relegated to pimps, who get innocent prey into commercial courts, to be solemnized by Lawyers and Judges whose courts, are really corporations, listed on Dun and Bradstreet and who have FEIN numbers attached to them.
    10. I’m not a lawyer so I cant make legal determinations nor give advise I don’t have a license to practice law, but nether do attorneys. The system is corrupt Jason

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