ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. – A temporary injunction filed by St. Augustine Beach Mayor Rich O'Brien over allegations of stalking was dismissed by a judge Wednesday.
O'Brien had obtained the injunction against St. Augustine resident Tom Reynolds, ordering him to stay away from O'Brien's family and his places of business.
The temporary injunction prohibited Reynolds from coming within 500 feet of the mayor, his family, his home or workplace, which includes City Commission meetings.
Reynolds' attorney said he believed that the injunction was an effort to silence his client's opinions.
The petition said O'Brien felt threatened and harassed after various incidents involving Reynolds.
O’Brien said police had to remove Reynolds from a City Commission meeting because he was yelling and disruptive. The mayor said in the injunction that Reynolds is “unstable, unpredictable, filled with rage and anger and cannot control his temper. ... I fear for my safety.”
The petition said Reynolds sent emails described as profane to O’Brien earlier this month and that one of the emails targeted O’Brien’s wife. O'Brien wrote that the email was “very, very disparaging, with a lot of name calling.”
The document also said Reynolds went to one of the mayor’s properties and insulted and harassed one of his employees.
Attorney Tom Cushman, who is representing Reynolds, said the mayor is violating Reynolds’ First Amendment rights.
“Mr. Reynolds has apparently said things the mayor doesn’t like and, of course, my question is, so what? He’s got a right to free speech and exercises it,” Cushman said.
Cushman said Reynolds is involved with the city and attends many commission meetings. He said he believes that the injunction is a ploy to silence him.
“He feels like the mayor is doing his best to violate his right to free speech,” Cushman said.
A judge sided Wednesday with Reynolds and denied O'Brien's request for a permanent injunction.
Reynolds is now seeking to have O’Brien pay his lawyers’ fees.