Timothy “Fuzzy” Timms, a 45-year-old member of the Hells Angels Motorcycle club, stood up Monday for his First Amendment right to freedom of expression.
Timms, a resident of the San Diego community of South Park, refused to take off a black leather vest with the motorcycle club's “death's head” insignia when he reported for jury duty. He's a big burly man, 5 feet 8 inches, 250 pounds, with a full beard and auburn-colored, shoulder-length hair. At 7:45 a.m., Timms' stance got him booted from the San Diego Superior Court's Hall of Justice by sheriff's deputies, along with another Hells Angel who also refused to remove his insignia vest. Nine hours later, representatives of both the Superior Court and the sheriff's department apologized to Timms and club member Mick Rush for “misunderstanding” an order issued April 24 by Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Fraser. Rush also had been reporting for jury duty. “It all boils down to a misunderstanding of Judge Fraser's order by court security,” Karen Dalton, a court spokeswoman, said. “He (the judge) does have a case before him involving Hells Angels members and his order applies only to that case and to his courtroom, not to the entire courthouse.” Court documents show that Fraser has banned four defendants in a felony drug possession case from wearing “Hells Angels clothing in/out of the courtroom for security reasons.” Terri Brewton, the court's jury services manager, called Timms and Rush Monday afternoon to apologize for the misunderstanding and to discuss how each man would like to proceed with their jury service. Lt. Brian Conway, a court security supervisor, said: “Based on that misunderstanding, we certainly regret any inconvenience that we caused to these two men. Everybody has since been informed among our security screeners, so we don't expect any similar problem to be repeated.” Timms said he was happy to get Brewton's apology just before 5 p.m. He also was given credit for showing up Monday and told he fulfilled his service. But, he plans to report to jury duty the next time he is called, he said, and will again wear his Hells Angels vest. “She apologized and said they were embarrassed, and she sounded very sincere,” Timms said. “I told her, I did not have any complaint about jury officials, but rather I was embarrassed to be surrounded by six deputies and told I had to leave because of my attire.” “A lot of people try to get out of jury duty, but I feel that people ought to be proud to serve,” said Timms, who works as a real estate loan officer. “Without a jury, all you have is a judge making a decision. Through the jury process, you can choose a jury of your peers to hear your case and decide what is fair.” Attorney Anthony Colombo, Jr., who represents one of those on trial before Judge Frazer, said he plans to file a written challenge to the judge's order on grounds that the defendants' rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association outweigh the court's security concerns.
A hearing on that dispute has not been scheduled.