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A Little Rock man who has been a frequent critic of city officials and was recently convicted of terrorizing the city manager filed a federal lawsuit Friday alleging three city officials have trampled his constitutional rights.

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The three are Mayor Mark Stodola, City Manager Bruce Moore and City Attorney Tom Carpenter.

Plaintiff Luke Skrable, 57, was fined $650 on July 22 after Pulaski County District Judge Wayne Gruber found him guilty of two misdemeanor terroristic threatening charges involving Moore and Sue Hulsey, an administrative assistant in the Public Works Department.

One charge involved an angry email Skrable sent to Moore in January, about an hour after being escorted out of a city board meeting. It said, among other things, "your days are numbered." The other charge concerned a voice message he left with Hulsey in September saying "someone's going to be bleeding today" and if department officials didn't call him back by noon, "I'm going to rain toads down on Public Works."

At his trial, Skrable told Gruber that he didn't mean any harm and was referring to his hope that Moore would be fired and that somebody's wallet would be bleeding.

Skrable's lawsuit, filed without the assistance of an attorney, takes issue with what he contends are four violations of his constitutional rights.

The first, he contends, occurred Jan. 20 when Stodola adjourned a meeting of the city Board of Directors without allowing Skrable to speak. Skrable said the mayor knew he had obtained a yellow Citizen Communication Card indicating he wanted to address the board. He said Stodola's action violated his First Amendment right to speak to the board, "as I have been allowed 78 times previously."

Stodola said in January that he had approached Skrable during a break in the meeting to clarify what topic he wanted to discuss, and Skrable said he wanted Stodola to apologize for incorrect comments. Stodola refused to allow Skrable to speak, but Skrable talked anyway, pounded on the podium and became irate. Stodola had Skrable escorted out by police.

The remaining violations cited in Skrable's lawsuit all stem from that incident. Skrable cited a ban Moore issued prohibiting Skrable from entering any city-owned buildings in response to the email Moore received that night, which led to one of the terroristic-threatening charges.

Skrable's other two claims of constitutional violations both concern ethics complaints Skrable said he tried to file against Stodola but that he said Carpenter refused to let him file. He said Carpenter told him the Code of Ethics applied to campaign conflict issues, and because Skrable wasn't complaining about that, he couldn't file such a complaint.

Skrable noted that he also is appealing his misdemeanor convictions.

Skrable often sends email complaints or records requests to city officials, forwarding copies to dozens of recipients, including members of the media.

None of the defendants immediately responded Friday evening to messages seeking comments about the lawsuit, which was assigned to U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr.

Metro on 08/08/2015

Print Headline: Suit claims 3 at City Hall infringed on critic's rights

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