Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Sent via Electronic Mail Only
Paul Schofield – Manager
Laurie S. Cohen – Village Attorney
Village of Wellington
12300 Forest Hill Blvd.
Wellington, FL 33414
Mr. City Manager:
The services of Siegel Siegel & Wright have been retained by Timothy “Chaz” Stevens in regards to his request to perform an invocation before a regular City Commission meeting.
To date, his formal request remains unanswered.
Obviously, this matter touches upon a bevy of case law and recent decisions, all of which support my client’s position.
Pursuant to Florida Statute 761.03, aka the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1998, free exercise of religion is protected. Specifically:
(1) The government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except that government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person:
(a) Is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
(b) Is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
(2) A person whose religious exercise has been burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and obtain appropriate relief.
It is not my client’s desire to initiate a suit to enforce his rights, which is why this letter has been drafted.
However, should the city fail to respond in a timely manner, improperly restrict or abridge his legal rights, or discriminate against Mr. Stevens in any fashion whatsoever for his religious beliefs or lack thereof, our firm has been instructed to file said action without further notice.
It goes without saying that he shall seek all available remedies, in addition to attorney’s fees and costs.
We trust this matter shall be addressed and resolved without delay.
Govern yourself accordingly,
Thomas H. Wright III, Esq.