Education
Jared Marcum. Photo: WOWK-TV screenshot  Jared Marcum. Photo: WOWK-TV screenshot   

Podunk prosecutors seek gag order against eighth-grader arrested over NRA shirt

The case of the rural West Virginia eighth-grader who was suspended and arrested in late April after he refused to remove a t-shirt supporting the National Rifle Association just keeps getting weirder.

According to local CBS affiliate WOWK-TV, the student, 14-year-old Jared Marcum, was back at the Logan County Courthouse on Monday for a hearing because prosecutors Christopher White and Sabrina Deskins were seeking an emergency gag order.

Earlier this month, Marcum had been formally charged with obstructing an officer. He was also suspended from school for one day. His crime was refusing a teacher’s request to take off the shirt, which was emblazoned with a hunting rifle and the statement “protect your right.”

“She said, ‘Are you supposed to wear that in school?’” Marcum had previously explained in an interview with WOWK. “I said, ‘I don’t see why I shouldn’t.’”

In court papers, the arresting officer, James Adkins, reportedly asserts that the criminal obstruction occurred because he couldn’t get Marcum to stop talking.

The school district’s policy doesn’t prohibit shirts promoting Second Amendment rights. Audaciously, Marcum returned to school after his suspension wearing exactly the same shirt. (RELATED: Eighth-grader arrested over NRA shirt returns to school in same shirt)

The 14-year-old now faces a $500 fine and a maximum of one year in prison or juvenile confinement.

In seeking the emergency gag order, the podunk prosecutors argued that Marcum’s interest would best be served if he, his attorney and his father are prevented from speaking about the case in the press.

Marcum’s attorney, Ben White, and his father, Allen Lardieri, both say they find the argument strange.

“We were here because the prosecution filed a motion for a gag order,” Marcum’s attorney Ben White told WOWK.  “My opinion is because, seemingly, they want to take it out of the court of public opinion.”

“It was for Jared’s better interest is what I was told, which seems to be a bit odd to me,” Lardieri told the station. “These are the same individuals that are trying to prosecute him, so as far as them knowing what is in his better interest, I have a lot of questions about that.”

At the end of the day, the motion for the gag order was likely a strategic maneuver by the state’s lawyers against the newly-minted middle-school graduate. They withdrew their petition provided that Marcum’s father agreed to waive the confidentiality that prevents the prosecutors from also speaking about the criminal case.