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Press Release

Texas Man Sentenced to 21 Days in Prison on Federal Charge Stemming from Disturbance at U.S. Supreme Court

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia
Man's Repeated Shouts Disrupted Proceedings

            WASHINGTON – Rives M. Grogan, 50, of Mansfield, Texas, was sentenced today to 21 days of incarceration on a federal charge stemming from a disturbance that he caused on April 28, 2015, at the United States Supreme Court, U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips announced.

            Grogan pled guilty on Sept. 25, 2015, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to a charge of picketing or parading in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1507, which covers illegal demonstrations within federal court buildings. He was sentenced by the Honorable Randolph D. Moss. Upon completion of his prison term, Grogan will be placed on one year of supervised release. During that time, he is ordered to stay away from the Supreme Court.

            Grogan has a history of convictions for disorderly conduct and similar offenses, including cases involving other disturbances over the years at the U.S. Capitol and the Supreme Court and on Capitol grounds during the 2013 Presidential inauguration. The guilty plea in this case stems from his actions on the morning of April 28, 2015, as the Supreme Court was in session, with all nine Justices present and presiding.

            According to a statement of offense submitted as part of the guilty plea, on the date of the disturbance, the Justices were considering whether a state’s constitutional and statutory bans on recognition of marriages of same-sex couples validly entered in other jurisdictions violate the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution and whether a state’s refusal to recognize a judgment of adoption of a child issued to a same-sex couple by the courts of a sister state violates the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

            Due to the historical significance of the issues before the Supreme Court that day, the courtroom was full with civilians, members of the Supreme Court bar, and other professional attendees.

            Grogan entered the courtroom at about 10:30 a.m., as arguments were under way.  A short time later, he stood and began yelling statements in a very loud, forceful voice toward the front of the courtroom, where the Justices were seated at the court bench. Among other things, he stated that “the Bible teaches if you support gay marriage, you could burn in hell for eternity.” Police officers attempted to detain him, but Grogan refused to leave his bench. Then, as officers attempted to grab him and take him out of the courtroom, he continued to shout statements. This continued as he was escorted through the building and to a holding area. He could still be heard by attendees in the courtroom.

            In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Phillips expressed appreciation for the work of the Police Department of the U.S. Supreme Court, which investigated the case. He also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Criminal Investigator Derek Starliper; Paralegal Specialist Carolyn Carter-McKinley, and Legal Assistant Holly Crouse. Finally, he commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela S. George, who prosecuted the case.

Updated February 4, 2016

Press Release Number: 15-237