A New Jersey supporter of Republican White House hopeful Donald Trump can keep displaying Trump flags above his home, his attorney said on Wednesday, noting a judge dismissed a complaint that resulted in a municipal citation and fine for his client.
Joseph Hornick had faced a $2,000 fine and up to 90 days in jail for flying two blue flags emblazoned with the billionaire candidate's name over his home in West Long Branch, New Jersey, about 50 miles south of New York City, after police cited him for a code violation in March.
On Wednesday, prosecutor Gerald Massell asked Municipal Court Judge Louis Garippo Jr. to dismiss the complaint on the basis that the flags are not political signs, and the judge agreed, according to Hornick's lawyer, Eric Sherman.
The town ordinance prohibits the display of political signs more than 30 days ahead of New Jersey's primary on June 7.
Sherman, who had argued that the ordinance violated his client's constitutional right to free speech, said the town's city council recently agreed not to enforce the ordinance on the recommendation of the town's attorney.
"There will be no more enforcement of this ordinance and the borough will go about the business of coming up with a different ordinance that does not offend the First Amendment," Sherman said in an interview.
For weeks, the former firefighter had displayed the flags that featured Trump's "Make America Great Again!" campaign slogan on a pole outside his two-story house at a busy intersection near Monmouth University in a show of his support for Trump.
Another resident of the coastal town complained to police, and Hornick was issued a summons on March 25. A court date was scheduled, but a defiant Hornick refused to remove the flags.
Hornick received support from the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey.
"I'm very pleased, and the flags were going to stay up no matter what," Hornick said Wednesday after the hearing.
On Thursday, Trump, who is likely to face Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 election, is scheduled to appear with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at a fundraiser in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.
In 2006, Trump faced his own flag controversy when his sprawling Mar-a-Lago property in Palm Beach, Florida, was cited for flying an oversized American flag 20 feet higher than a town ordinance allowed. Ultimately, Trump agreed to relocate and lower the flag in a compromise.