Michigan Judge Allows Local Artist To Stay Out of Jail During Appeal

Affiliate: ACLU of Michigan
April 4, 2005 12:00 am

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DETROIT – A local artist who was sentenced to 30 days in jail for painting a mural on the exterior wall of his studio will be staying at home as the case moves forward in the appeal process, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan said today.

Edward Stross, a 43-year-old Roseville, Michigan resident, was sentenced by District Judge Marco Santia to serve 30 days in jail, do two years’ probation and pay a $500 fine for violating a city sign ordinance. Stross painted a variation on Michelangelo’s “Creation of Man ” that shows Eve with a bare breast.

“This ruling clearly recognizes that justice would not be served if Edward was required to go jail while waiting for the appeal,” said ACLU of Michigan Executive Director Kary Moss. The ACLU has argued that the sign ordinance violates Stross’ freedom of expression.

In the decision, Judge Peter J. Maceroni’s wrote, “Requiring defendant to serve the 30 days in jail while his appeal remains at issue could result in an injustice to defendant as we would, in all likelihood, complete that term of imprisonment before his issues on appeal were addressed. Defendant would be denied the opportunity for a meaningful appeal, which would be an affront to the proper administration of justice.”

Stross expressed joy over Judge Maceroni’s ruling. “I’m delighted that I’m going to be able keep painting. When I learned about the judge’s decision, I was painting a picture in tribute to the Pope,” said Stross. “He was my hero because he uncensored the works in the Sistine Chapel that had been covered by previous popes.”

To see the mural, go to http://www.aclumich.org/attachments/gonzocloseup.jpg.

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