HAMBURG, NY-- A Hamburg man will have to wait a while longer, to find out if he will have to remove a sign on his property, which he put up in protest of the New York SAFE Act.
The case is attracting attention, particularly from those opposed to the state's tougher gun control laws, which went into effect last year.
Citing a potential conflict of interest, the second of two Hamburg Town Judges has now recused himself from the case, during a brief court session on Friday.
It will now be re-assigned to a judge in an adjoining town for proceedings on a future date.
When it comes to the SAFE Act, there has been a lot of debate regarding the Second Amendment.
However, this controversy, in the eyes of some, is centered, more on the first amendment.
"You have the conjunction of the two most important constitutional amendments," said attorney Jim Ostrowski, who represents Scott Zawierucha, who is charged with a violation of the town code.
Zawierucha affixed a four by ten foot banner to his backyard fence facing South Park Avenue.
The black banner with yellow lettering proclaims, "NY IS NOT S.A.F.E.!! STOP CUOMO – PRESERVE YOUR RIGHTS!!"
The citation he received from the town's department of code enforcement charges him with violating an existing section of town code, which reads: "No images or language shall be painted, affixed to the outward side of any fence or directed at neighboring properties for any reason."
SAFE Act Sign Analysis
Zawierucha claims there are numerous examples of signs on fences throughout the town. He therefore concludes he is being singled out because of the message on his sign.
"My sign has nothing offensive, there's no profanity, it doesn't hamper public safety, or block any view of traffic," Zawierucha told WGRZ-TV. "I didn't start this war…but I'm not backing down."
"The core of the first amendment is political speech," said Ostrowski. "Restrained political speech is presumptively invalid unless there's an extremely good reason for it which we believe does not exist in this case.
About two dozen opponents of the safe act came to court to lend their support to Zawierucha on Friday.
The town's Chief Code Enforcement Officer declined to speak with 2 on Your Side, but Town Supervisor Steven Walters did, and expressed his belief the case should not have gotten this far.
"I'm going to push to work on amending the law to make sure this doesn't happen again, and at the same time hopefully the court dismisses this case against Mr. Zawierucha," Walters said.