Months after his arrest at City Council, Ben Frazier’s case appears to be at standstill

Frazier and his attorney, John Phillips, blame ‘serial judicial recusals’

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Ben Frazier, of the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, was arrested two months ago during a meeting of the City Council — and his case still hasn’t been heard.

Frazier and his attorney, John Phillips, blame “serial judicial recusals” for the lack of progress. Frazier was charged with misdemeanor trespassing and resisting arrest without violence after he refused to leave the podium during public comment after his allowed time had ended.

Philips provided documents Monday that detail the delays from the legal team’s point of view.

Frazier was arrested Dec. 13. His first court appearance was the following day.

At the next hearing, on Jan. 9, prosecutors asked for more time. Phillips says the judge told the state to drop the case.

Instead, it was postponed to Feb. 6.

Judge Emmet Ferguson recused himself on Jan. 23 and the case went to Judge Robin Lanigan.

Then, Lanigan issued an order of recusal Feb. 6 and the case was reassigned to Judge Michael Bateh.

Bateh then recused himself a day later.

Frazier’s lawyer says they are now waiting for a fourth judge.

Phillips said in a statement he shared with News4JAX:

“This matter is due to be dismissed. It’s wasting judicial resources. Further, while (State Attorney Melissa) Nelson has previously gone on record saying her and her office would recuse itself in a prior case, she hasn’t but three judges have. One judge did so after repeatedly explaining the case was not one to put before a jury. What is going on in this City?”

I asked Frazier for comment. He offered this statement:

“Some city officials have decided to treat me like a political prisoner because I have demanded removal of confederate monuments from public property. However the pen is mightier than the sword!”

Another man was arrested when he tried to defend Frazier at City Council in December. Rob Rutter’s case has faced the same recusals by judges, according to paperwork sent by Frazier’s lawyer.

About the Author:

Kent Justice co-anchors News4Jax's 5 p.m., 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights and reports on government and politics. He also hosts "This Week in Jacksonville," Channel 4's hot topics and politics public affairs show each Sunday morning at 9 a.m.