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PARMA, Ohio (WJW) – A Northeast Ohio man made headlines when he was arrested for lampooning Parma Police in a fake Facebook page. He’s now asking the U.S. Supreme Court to re-instate a lawsuit he filed against the arresting officers for violating his constitutional rights. 

The story began to unfold in March 2016, when Anthony Novak created the phony Parma Police Facebook page, on which he posted several parodies of police.

Novak deleted the page a short time later, but by then, a number of Facebook users had reported the fake page to police.

Three weeks later, Novak was arrested and police then executed a search warrant at his home.

In an interview posted by the legal organization Institute for Justice, Novak said, “They took my laptop, my roommate’s laptop, they took hard drives, they took game consoles, they took phones.”

Novak was charged with disrupting public services based on calls that police dispatchers took from concerned citizens about the fake Facebook page.

Then in August 2016, a jury found him not guilty, and that’s when he decided to sue the Parma Police Department.

“My mugshot is blasted all over the news and I didn’t do anything wrong, and I can’t let them think that’s OK,” said Novak.

When attorneys at the Institute for Justice heard about Novak’s case, they say they were outraged.

“As Americans, it’s one of our core principles that not only do you have the freedom of speech, but that speech when used to make fun of public figures is sort of a core idea of the First Amendment,” Attorney Patrick Jaicomo told FOX 8.

Novak’s lawsuit against Parma Police was eventually dismissed by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, on the grounds that the Parma police officers he sued had qualified immunity.

His attorneys are now asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the lawsuit.

“Anthony cannot enforce his obvious First and Fourth Amendment rights in this case because the courts have applied a legal doctrine that shields the police from liability regardless of whether Anthony’s constitutional rights were actually violated and that’s the question we’re asking the Supreme Court to address,” said Jaicomo.

The case has drawn the attention of the satirical online website, The Onion, which has filed a legal brief in support of Novak’s appeal before the Supreme Court.

Attorneys for The Onion wrote, “The Onion’s professional parodists were less then enthralled with a legal ruling that fails to hold government actors accountable for jailing and prosecuting a would-be humorist simply for making fun of them.”          

In response to Novak’s appeal, the City of Parma issued a statement that reads, in part: 

“The courts which have dismissed Mr. Novak’s lawsuit did not base their opinions on parody, freedom of speech, or the need for a disclaimer. The courts concluded that the police, who acted in keeping with the advice of city and county legal advisors and judges, did not violate Mr. Novak’s rights. Indeed, Mr. Novak went beyond mimicry when he copied verbatim onto his fake Facebook page the warning posted by the City of Parma about his page, including the false claim that his was the “official” Facebook page: ‘The Parma Police Department would like to warn the public that a fake Parma Police Facebook page has been created… This is the Parma Police Department’s official Facebook page. The public should disregard any and all information posted on the fake Facebook account.’ Falsely copying an official warning along with a claim to be the authentic Facebook page is not parody. Mr. Novak also deleted comments from people who realized that his page was fake. The United Stated District Court and a unanimous Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals uniformly ruled against Mr. Novak. The city maintains, and the courts have held, that his suit is groundless.”         

Attorneys for Novak argue that the use of satire is not just a laughing matter, it’s protected speech.

“Parody was used to make fun of George Washington and it’s been used consistently since then and so anything that allows parodists to be thrown in jail for their parody should be something that we guard against jealously in this country,” said Jaicomo.        

Both sides are now waiting to see if the Supreme Court will consider Novak’s appeal, and his attorneys believe there could be an answer by the end of the year.