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Man Goes to Jail for Puting a Sign in his Yard

WAFF | April 2 2004

"You can look through 'em all."

Up to his ears in legal documents, Phillip Dean is fed up with the judicial system.

"That's the kind of court system we've got in Jackson County, Alabama and I want everybody to know," Dean says.

So he put a sign in his front lawn saying "Our Court System Is a Joke."

A message landing him behind bars.

"I was in a cell about four foot wide and six foot long and nothing in it but a toilet," he explains.

Arrest orders signed by Judge Haralson claim Dean to be in direct contempt of court, even though the sign is on County Road 107, not in the county courthouse.

"The signs were so derogatory to the court they could not be ignored," Haralson responds in a local paper.

With Dean locked up, the signs were removed.

"Before they would let me go in front of Judge Haralson," Dean says. "They put leg shackles, they put handcuffs, they put chains from my legs up to my waist. they put a chain around my waist. they put chains from my waist up here and had my hands pulled up like this."

With an apology, Haralson released Dean after a day in jail,but the experience leaves Dean with unanswered questions.

"When it gets to where a man hadn't got any free speech in this world, what has he got?" he asks.

Answers he hopes to find with a message already back in place.

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