Man "Forbidden" From Contacting City Officials

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Fri, April 26 2013 at 8:04 PM, Updated: Sun, April 28 2013 at 12:47 AM

Josh Brewer's trouble started when he was charged with a medical marijuana related drug crime in 2009. It was a crime he later beat in the state appeals court three years later which reversed the convictions.

But while he was in the middle of it trying to prove his innocence in 2009 he contacted his elected officials for help.

"I tried contacting the mayor. Mayor Wheeler, he hung the phone up on me, he didn't want nothing to do with it," recounted Brewer.

So he kept trying to get a hold of someone, anyone who would listen.

"I called the Governor, I contacted everybody."

But soon he got a letter in the mail.

"From this point forward, you are forbidden from having contact either in person or by telephone with any department of the City of Medford regarding this matter. Be advised your actions could result in your arrest and additional criminal charges being filed against you," Brewer read aloud.

But can police really tell you not to contact city officials about grievances? While Medford Police said they could not speak specifically about the Brewer case due to a pending lawsuit, they were able to speak in general terms.

"A police officer cannot forbid somebody to contact somebody else," began Lt. Mike Budreau with the Medford Police Department.

"The City Manager can trespass somebody from city hall."

"Prohibiting contact with somebody, it typically that has to be a restraining order situation or something like that," he continued.

In addition, can police threaten criminal charges and arrest someone for trying to get in contact with their city officials?

"They can only be arrested if there's a crime," Lt. Budreau said.

However, Brewer and his supporters claim no crime was committed.

"Mr. Brewer wanted to talk to the Mayor about the fact that the police had made a mistake and there seemed to be an injustice going on," said Brewer's attorney Foster Glass.

"Under Oregon law that's not harassment," he continued.

He said it would have been harassment if the calls were continuous and if Brewer was told to stop...which both he and his attorney said never happened.

Lt. Budreau said letters like the one sent to Brewer don't get sent out often.

"Probably less than a dozen times over the last 10-years but it has happened."

Even so, one city councilor we spoke with says elected officials need to be available.

"People have a right to contact their elected officials and to contact city officials. They work for the people, they work for the citizens," said City Councilman Daniel Bunn.

"That's what makes democracy work and that's what makes government work at a local level...If there's a problem, we want people to come talk to us," he said.

Meantime, Brewer and the letter say otherwise.

He and his attorney have filed a lawsuit against the City of Medford, Medford Police Department, the mayor and a slew of police officers...alleging they conspired, acted intentionally or with reckless disregard when it came to his rights, and went on false information to convict him. 

Brewer said if only the mayor or someone had listened to his concerns in the beginning...

"This wouldn't have happened and if it did happen, he would have put all those officers on suspension, figured everything out himself and we would have been done with it," Brewer said.

So even though his conviction was over turned and he is deemed an innocent man, he said the hurt continues.    

"Enough is enough."

Josh Brewer's conviction was reversed, the case is closed and can't be re-opened.

Meantime, Lt. Budreau couldn't speak to Brewer's case specifically because of the lawsuit. However, he did say letters similar to the one sent to Brewer are typically worded differently.   

What do you think? Sound off on our Facebook page and on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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