- Associated Press - Monday, June 23, 2014

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - The city of Columbus is asking a federal judge to thrown out a lawsuit filed by a local minister who argues he was unlawfully arrested during a personhood amendment rally in 2011.

Stephen Joiner, the pastor at First Church of the Nazarene, sued the city in U.S. District Court in May.

Police say Joiner was arrested for “failure to obey a police officer” during the March 30, 2011 rally held to build support for a proposed “Personhood Amendment,” which would have declared “personhood” begins at fertilization.

Joiner argues his arrest was “unconstitutional” and violated his right to freedom of speech. He is asking for, among other things, compensatory damages and for the charge to be expunged from his record.

The Commercial Dispatch reports (http://bit.ly/1nWE3xq ) the city, in a response to the lawsuit filed this past week, denies the allegations and asks a judge to dismiss the lawsuit.

“The actions taken by the city of Columbus and its employees were taken in good faith and in good faith reliance upon then existing law,” the city argues in its response.

The city also argues it and its police officers have immunity from the lawsuit.

No trial date has been set in the case.

U.S Magistrate David A. Sanders has scheduled a case management conference for Aug. 21.

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Information from: The Commercial Dispatch, http://www.cdispatch.com

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