The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

TCC hit with more than $240,000 in attorneys’ fees after lawsuit

By Shelly Williams/editor in chief

TCC will have to pay more than $240,000 in attorneys’ costs following the end of a lawsuit where two students fought for their First Amendment rights to hold an empty gun holster protest.

After student Clayton Smith and former student John Schwertz Jr. took the school to court earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Terry Means on Oct. 13 ordered the college to pay $236,329 in attorney’s fees and $7,114 in expenses.

“I hope that this is kind of an eye-opener for other schools that have similar policies — kind of like a warning,” Smith said.

Smith and Schwertz Jr. sued the college after TCC refused to let the students conduct the protest on campus.

The protest was aligned with Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, a national organization that supports carrying concealed handguns on campus as a means of personal protection.

Chancellor Erma Johnson Hadley argued during the trial in January that preventing the protest was meant to protect students against any possible threats, but Means said that TCC had an “undifferentiated fear and had no tangible reason to have that fear.

Means ruled in favor of the two students in a March decision. Since the lawsuit ended, TCC has removed designated free-speech zones from all five campuses and has revised its student handbook in accordance to the ruling.

“During the litigation, we did amend the policies and procedures,” said Angela Robinson, TCC’s attorney. “With those policies and new guidelines, I think that takes care of addressing any of the conflicts between our concern of public safety and the court’s concern of constitutional rights.”

At this moment, Robinson said the district will not appeal the decision.

Robinson also said taxpayers will not directly foot the bill because the college’s insurance will cover the costs.

“I’m glad that students on campus will be able to express their opinions freely, without being censored,” Smith said.

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