Federal Judge Ordering Charlottesville, Draego to Reach Settlement

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A settlement between Charlottesville and a man who says he was unfairly cut off during public comment at a council meeting may be in the works.

Joseph Draego filed a federal lawsuit back in July, saying the Charlottesville City Council denied his right to free speech when they stopped him from making further comments.

Draego had already addressed councilors during a public meeting on July 20. He returned to the podium later that same meeting, saying "the Muslims, monstrous maniacs that they are, read their holy book and then they go out and perpetrate these horrible crimes."

Mayor Mike Signer cut Draego's remarks short, citing council rules prohibiting defamatory attacks on groups or individuals during the public comment period.

Charlottesville police officers ultimately escorted Draego out of the meeting.

A lawsuit was filed on July 28. Draego’s lawyer then filed a motion on September 1, asking a federal judge to temporarily suspend Charlottesville City Council's ban on defamatory attacks on groups.

In November, a federal judge granted an injunction that prompted councilors to take action. Councilors announced at their meeting on November 21 that they would not be enforcing “Rule 9-G,” which states: "Improper comments and disorderly conduct are not permitted. Persons appearing before the council will not be allowed defamatory attack on individuals or groups."

The settlement conference is set for Friday, December 16, in federal court.

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