pression in this state. Our sister states that have ad-dressed this same issue appear to be fairly split oneither side of the fence.FN2This state has long re-cognized that the exercise of the right to petition isa form of democratic expression at its purest. Art. I§ 5, Fla. Const. This fundamental right is recog-nized in the First Amendment to the United StatesConstitution which states that Congress shall makeno law abridging the freedom to petition the Gov-ernment for a redress of grievances. Florida also re-cognizes the right of its people to petition the gov-ernment.
See Krivanek v. Take Back Tampa Politic-al Committee,
625 So.2d 840 (Fla.1993); Art. I § 5,Fla. Const. Citizens of this state should be entitledto no less protection than citizens of other states.Courts in this state have recognized this generallyaccepted principle that malls and other shoppingcenters are still private property, but have a“quasi-public” nature.
See State v. Woods,
624So.2d 739 (Fla. 5thDCA 1993). This Court holdsthat the Constitution of Florida prohibits a privateowner of a “quasi-public” place from using statetrespass laws to exclude peaceful political activity.FN2.
See Batchelder v. Allied Stores Inter-national, Inc.,
388 Mass. 83, 445 N.E.2d590 (Mass.1983)(finding state right topolitical speech on quasi-public property);
Commonwealth v. Tate,
495 Pa. 158, 432A.2d 1382 (Pa.1981);
Alderwood Assocs.v. Washington Envtl. Council,
96 Wash.2d230, 635 P.2d 108 (Wash.1981);
84 N.J. 535, 423 A.2d 615(N.J.1980); but see
Minnesota v. Wicklund,
589 N.W.2d 793 (Minn.1999)(no right topolitical speech on private property);
Co-logne v. Westfarms Assocs.,
192 Conn. 48,469 A.2d 1201 (Conn.1984).
This still does not end this Court's inquiry.Having held that the Florida Constitution grants cit-izens of this state the right of expression on a shop-ping mall owners's property, this Court must de-termine if the lower court erred in denying Wood'sMotion for Judgment of Acquittal. In reviewing anorder denying a motion for a judgment of acquittal,the appellate court must consider the evidence andall reasonable inferences from the evidence in alight most favorable to the state.
Woods v. State,
733 So.2d 980 (Fla.1999). Put in another light,courts should not grant a motion for judgment of acquittal unless the evidence is such that no viewfavorable to the state by the jury can be sustainedunder the law. The undisputed testimony establishes thatWood was asked to leave the premises solely basedon his desire to conduct political activity in themanner of collecting signatures for his petition torun for office. The only testimony with regards tothe Mall's policy on political activity was that of theMall manager who testified that the policy prohib-ited any solicitation of signatures for any petition.Since the Mall's policy was absolute, this Courtneed not, and cannot, inquire into whether the re-strictions on Wood's right to engage in politicalactivity was reasonably and narrowly tailored suchthat the Mall could restrict Wood and other citizens'peaceful expressive activity. The policy, as estab-lished by the uncontradicted testimony, was thatthere was never a circumstance in which the Mallwould allow an individual or group to conductpolitical activity.FN3Such a policy runs afoul of the right to free speech and right of political expres-sion as set out by the Florida Constitution andamounts to no policy at all. Since Wood was exer-cising his right of political expression, his actionsare constitutionally protected and cannot form thebasis for a conviction of criminal trespass.FN3. If the policy established a specifictime or place that such activity may beconducted then it might not have run afoulof the constitutional protections based on areasonable restriction analysis. The abso-lute nature of the policy is what distin-guishes the instant case from that of
733 So.2d 980 (Fla.1999). It ispossible that a policy that allows citizensto conduct such activity under reasonableFOR EDUCATIONAL USE ONLY Page 3Not Reported in So.2d, 2003 WL 1955433 (Fla.Cir.Ct.)
(Cite as: 2003 WL 1955433 (Fla.Cir.Ct.))
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