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Mich. appeals court rubs out mural artist's jail sentence

By The Associated Press
02.25.08

ROSEVILLE, Mich. — The Michigan Court of Appeals says an artist who got in trouble over a mural on the exterior wall of his studio shouldn't have been sentenced to jail time.

An appeals court panel ruled 2-1 on Feb. 21 that Ed Stross' First Amendment rights were violated. He was ordered in 2005 to serve 30 days in jail for violating a Roseville sign ordinance.

Stross' mural is a take on Michelangelo's "Creation of Man." It depicts Eve with a bare breast and has "love" written on it.

The appeals panel majority wrote in People v. Stross, “There appears to be no dispute that the mural is protected under the First Amendment.”

The majority added, “the restriction prohibiting lettering is an unconstitutional regulation of speech, infringing on defendant’s First Amendment protections.

In his dissent, Judge Bill Schuette wrote that the majority had found the city’s restriction on lettering “is an unconstitutional restraint on defendant’s First Amendment rights. I disagree.”

Stross did not serve time. The 46-year-old told the Detroit Free Press he was "ecstatic" about the ruling.

The city may appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.


Update
Mich. high court reinstates mural artist's conviction
Ed Stross faces 30-day sentence for painting that features bare-breasted Eve, word 'love' after justices rule he raised First Amendment argument too late. 10.08.08

Previous
Artist threatened with jail for painting topless Eve
Edward Stross reproduced part of Michelangelo fresco on the side of his studio in Detroit suburb. 08.12.04

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