Cohoon v. Konrath

Case Name: Cohoon v. Konrath

Type of Case: Free Speech

Court: U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin

Case Number: 20-CV-620

Filed On: April 16, 2020

Current Status: U.S. District Court Judge Brett Ludwig issued a decision declaring a Marquette County Sheriff’s threat to arrest a teenage girl over a social media post in March 2020, violated the teen’s First Amendment rights.

Press Releases

WILL WINS FIRST AMENDMENT LAWSUIT AGAINST MARQUETTE COUNTY SHERIFF

September 24, 2021 | U.S. District Court Judge Brett Ludwig issued a decision declaring a Marquette County Sheriff’s threat to arrest a teenage girl over a social media post in March 2020, violated the teen’s First Amendment rights. The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed the lawsuit on behalf of Amyiah Cohoon, a teen from Oxford, Wisconsin, who was threatened with arrest for posting that she had COVID-19.

WILL SUES MARQUETTE COUNTY SHERIFF FOR FREE SPEECH VIOLATION

April 16, 2020 | WILL filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday against Marquette County Sheriff Joseph Konrath and a Patrol Sergeant for violating the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of an Oxford, Wisconsin teen. The lawsuit results from a March incident where Marquette County law enforcement threatened the teen and her parents with arrest unless an Instagram post was removed.

WILL DEMAND LETTER: SHERIFF, SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR USED COVID CRISIS TO VIOLATE FIRST AMENDMENT

April 3, 2020 | WILL issued letters to Marquette County Sheriff Joseph Konrath and Westfield School District Administrator Robert Meicher demanding recompense after an Oxford, Wisconsin teen was threatened with arrest if she failed to remove a social media post

Rick and Angela Cohoon’s teen daughter, Amyiah, developed a severe respiratory illness in March after a spring break trip to Florida. Doctors at Divine Savior Hospital in Portage indicated to the Cohoons that their daughter likely had COVID-19 but could not be tested due to the testing criteria at the time. She was sent home with instructions to strictly self-quarantine but ended up in the hospital three days later after symptoms worsened. She tested negative for COVID-19 in Madison, but doctors suggested she likely had the virus but had missed the testing window.

While in the hospital, Amyiah posted to Instagram that she was recovering from COVID-19. Westfield School District officials then swung into action to tell district parents that Amyiah was not telling the truth about her COVID-19 experience and complained to the Marquette County Sheriff. On March 27, a Marquette County Sheriff Patrol Sergeant was dispatched to the Cohoon’s home to demand the Instagram post be removed or face arrest for disorderly conduct. The Instagram posts were removed after the threat from law enforcement.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) issued letters to Marquette County Sheriff Joseph Konrath and Westfield School District Administrator Robert Meicher demanding recompense after an Oxford, Wisconsin teen was threatened with arrest if she failed to remove a social media post. WILL is representing the teen and her parents, Rick and Angela Cohoon, after a Marquette County Sheriff’s Patrol Sergeant threatened to cite or jail their teen daughter or them on March 27 for disorderly conduct if she did not remove an Instagram post indicating she was recovering from COVID-19 (despite a negative test).

Current Status: U.S. District Court Judge Brett Ludwig issued a decision on September 24, 2021 declaring a Marquette County Sheriff’s threat to arrest a teenage girl over a social media post in March 2020, violated the teen’s First Amendment rights. Judge Ludwig wrote, “The First Amendment is not a game setting for the government to toggle off and on. It applies in times of tranquility and times of strife. While Defendants in this case may have believed their actions served the greater good, that belief cannot insulate them. Demanding a 16-year-old remove protected speech from her Instagram account is a First Amendment violation.”