A federal judge ruled in favor of the Millard Public School District on Monday, after a jury was unable to decide whether the district violated a student’s First Amendment rights when she was disciplined for wearing “RIP” clothing.
Cassie, Dan and Nick Kuhr were suspended for wearing “Julius RIP” clothing and accessories following the death of a friend in gang-related violence. School officials said they feared the attire would disrupt school.
A jury was charged with deciding whether school officials reasonably anticipated the clothing would cause a substantial disruption. The jury sided with administrators April 13 – but only as to Dan and Nick Kuhr. The jurors were deadlocked as to Cassie’s case, leaving the decision to U.S. District Judge Laurie Camp.
Camp found in favor of the school district Monday, deciding that “no reasonable jury” could side with Cassie Kuhr based on the evidence presented at trial.
“The Court concludes that the Defendants met their burden under Tinker v. Des Moines… demonstrating a specific and significant fear that Cassie’s expressive conduct would cause a disruption of school activities, and that their expectation of disruption was well-founded,” Camp wrote in her decision.
Brian Jorde, attorney for the Kuhrs, said he is inclined to appeal Cassie’s case, and is considering appealing all three cases.
“I wasn’t surprised given some comments that the judge had made previously,” Jorde said. “I was expecting that…. Cassie’s claims are by far the strongest, which is why the jury struggled so hard with her case.”
Jorde has 28 days to appeal the judge’s directed verdict.