Claremont Insider: Halls of Justice

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Halls of Justice

Former Three Valleys Municipal Water District board member Xavier Alvarez made the news today. Alvarez, you'll recall, pleaded guilty last year to a charge of having violating the federal Stolen Valor Act by falsely claiming to have been a Medal of Honor recipient.

Alvarez has since been in court appealing the conviction on the ground that the Stolen Valor Act violated Alvarez's First Amendment rights. Alvarez's attorney argued that Alvarez's lies harmed no one.

Yesterday, a three-judge panel in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Alvarez in a 2-1 decision, saying the law is unconstitutional. A federal judge in Colorado made a similar ruling last month in another Stolen Valor case.

Alvarez remains in state prison on a fraud conviction stemming from false statements he made that allowed his ex-wife to receive health benefits while Alvarez was on the Three Valleys board.

Here is a copy of the opinion by Judge Milan D. Smith, Jr., and the dissent by Judge Jay S. Bybee: