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Results of the Defoe Hearing

Brookwood student voted today in the case of Tommy Defoe. Two class sections ruled in favor of Defoe (by a vote of 9-3 and 7-5), while the third section found in favor of the school (by a vote of 7-5).

Here are a couple of students talking about why they voted for the school:

And two others on their vote for Defoe:


61 Comments

  1. As a judge in my Section (GHI), I think that the school should have won. I feel that although their case wasn’t as strong as the Defoe lawyers’ case, their points were very well thought out.

    • I agree with MacKenzie. I was a school lawyer in Section GHI, and my side lost 7-5 to Defoe. I realize that Defoe’s lawyers had a very strong case, but I feel that our points were better. I will say that I think that the other lawyers informed the Supreme Court a little better than we did, but their case will not change the fact that it is wrong to wear the Confederate flag in a mixed race school. Whether or not it was Defoe’s intention to put down black people, the symbol can be considered extremely insulting. I believe that the Confederate flag is now just a racist symbol, while there are many other symbols that represent the South that aren’t racist.

      • I feel the same way, but I don’t think that they should make him take it off until AFTER there is a problem. He had been wearing the shirt since middle school, and there had been no problems then.

        • I agree with Brian, but in middle school, I think that there would’ve been a lot less chance of violence, unlike when he wore the belt. Because of this increased risk of danger, I agree that they should of made him take off the belt.

  2. In Mr. Jenkins first class section, the Supreme Court ruled that Tom Defoe’s right to free speech does not apply. This is due to multiple threats, racial slurs, and hit lists within Anderson County high school. The safety of the students is more important than Tom’s right to freedom of speech. The prosecution began stating how the first amendment was violated by the school board. Though it’s obvious that Tom’s rights to speech and expression were taken away from him by the school, if he were still allowed to wear the confederate flag T-shirt, the safety of the students would have been endangered. This was a very tough case for me to come to a conclusion on. The defense and prosecution made very strong arguments but the defense just barely beat the prosecution. The Supreme Court was divided 5:1.

  3. In Mr. Jenkins second class, we ruled in favor of the Defense six to zero. We ruled in favor of the defense for several reasons. One of them being the disorganization of the prosecution. The prosecution was so disorganized they didn’t even know which school Defoe went to. Also the prosecution was unable to make any of their points stick. The defense quickly and skillfully attacked each point the prosecution tried to make and made the prosecution unable to prove their point. The Defense clearly made more research into past cases before the Defoe and case and the Defoe case itself. For example, the prosecution made the sluggish remark that there is no history of racial violence at the school that Defoe went to when in fact there was plenty of racial tension and violence. Another example being when the prosecution brought up a quote from the Tinker Case that said, “Students are not expected to shed their rights at the school house gate.” The prosecution apparently didn’t bother to read the rest of the quote because if they would’ve they would notice that the rest says, “Unless they create a substantial and material disruption to the learning environment.” In our class the prosecution had trouble getting anything going.

  4. In my section (GHI) the judges decided that Defoe should win. Although I was a lawyer for the school, the Defoe lawyers said some things that changed my mind. For example, one of the Defoe lawyers brought up that The Bill of Rights block the government’s power. In this case the government is the school. They also said that Defoe was trying to show his Southern heritage by wearing the Confederate Flag. As the school, I tried to prove that the flag could cause racial threats and issues. We brought up precedents about recent fights because of racial tension in the school. I think the judges disagreed with us because the recent fights didn’t involve the Confederate Flag.

    • Like Katie, I had been on the schools side for the beginning of the hearing, but near the end, the Defoe lawyers made some good points that made me change my mind. One of their precedent had been a black person hanging a flag outside of his dorm window. They school hadn’t made him take it down. That made me think that if blacks don’t find it racist, then there is no need to worry about it.

  5. As a judge, in section (BDF) the majority of the judges voted for the school. I personally voted for the Defoe, because I thought they had better points, and they pointed out good precedents, and readings to support their points along the way. Although the school lawyers did have some very good things they pointed out, that made me think, I still had to agree with the Defoe lawyers points that they made. Though in our class, we did have more question for the Defoe lawyers, so I think that they got to say more good points that they had, with the answers. Overall, it was very close in our class, and they both did very well!

    • I agree with you, Ellis, but I think that the school was right to have won. We did ask the Defoe lawyers a lot of questions, and I think that they could have kept themselves quiet during the last part of the discussion a little more, but I thought that the Defoe lawyers really just brought up the same point over and over, and expected us to maybe change our minds. I thought that the school lawyers brought up some better/more points, and discussed them a little better.

      • I agree with Alexa about how the Defoe lawyers always kept bringing up the same points over and over again. I was a lawyer for the school, so obviously I would want the school to win, but I do think we made a strong argument. The school had more precedence and more point than the Defoe lawyers did, so that made kind of a better argument. Also, looking at this case from my own perspective and not a lawyer’s, I probably would have gone with the school. The Confederate Flag is pretty controversial and the school has the right to keep people safe.

        • I also agree with Alexa. I think that the Defoe lawyers made some good points, but they kept stating the same points over and over again. The Defoe lawyers kept making the point about how Tom Defoe was only wearing the flag to show his pride in his Southern heritage, and he wasn’t trying to be offensive. But as a lawyer for the school, we made the point that other people will see that symbol and be offended. It only matters that other people are going to be offended by the symbol. Although the school won this case, during this trial I feel like the Defoe lawyers had a lot more opportunities to talk and make points. But, like Vanny said, I feel like the school lawyers made better points and had a stronger argument overall.

          • In our section the trial went the complete other direction from yours. The Defoes made a much stronger case because they had recent precedents while on the other hand the school only had precedents from the 60 and below. The school kept on stating that the Confederate flag was a symbol of hatred and COULD cause racial tension but then they clearly stated Tommy Defoe waring his Confederate flag actually never caused and disturbances but there had been some recent racial tension at the school. I was a member of the Supreme Court in this trial and I had to side with the Defoes because I felt that there argument was much stronger and they had many points to back them up.

  6. I feel like either of the sides could win, because of what the lawyers say. If the school lawyers made their points stick, then I would have sided with the school, and vice versa. Both sides had good points, but as a lawyer I would say it is easier to find evidence supporting Defoe.

  7. In section BDE, Defoe won (9-3), and I understood the ruling, but I’m still conflicted if I think it’s right or not. Defoe didn’t cause any violence, so he should be able to wear it. Also, if he’s allowed to wear it outside of school, he should be able to wear the Confederate flag inside of school, too. But, as Jessica said, if there was violence in the school, then everyone would probably blame the school for the incident. People would say that the school should’ve stepped in to stop the violence from happening. I understand why he’s allowed to wear it, I just don’t think it’s right for the school. I do believe that the flag could/will cause violence, and in the Tinker case, they said that if there was enough evidence, then the school could step in and stop the violence from happening. I do believe that there was enough evidence because of all the precedents concerning not only the Confederate flag, but in Anderson High School, too.

  8. My Class (ACE) I Voted in favor of Defoe 9:3. I did this because his lawyers made a much stronger case. I felt that the school had good points but after a lot of them they said “Due to the school’s history of racial tension, this is probably true.” This influenced my thinking because the case should not be decided based on guesses, it should be based on facts, which Defoe’s lawyers had. So overall, what really steered me away from the school’s lawyers was their “educated guesses.”

  9. In our section (ACE) the vote ended up being 9-3, in favor of Defoe. I voted for Defoe for a few reasons. The first reason being that overall, the Defoe lawyers just made a better case. Also, his rights don’t disappear when he enters school, and I think that that’s what confuses a lot of people. His rights were being violated and there’s no way to say they weren’t.

    • Well, nobody really said that his rights disappeared when he entered the school. But when he did enter the school, the school had to think about the other students and how it would effect them. In this case, the symbol Defoe used was offensive to some of the students.

  10. In my section BDE the supreme ruled in favor of the school 7-5. I did not vote so I have no opinion but would probably say that Tommy Defoe could wear the belt until a 40% chance of violence (a few threats).

    • I am in Austins class to and I was a lawyer for defoe. I think the case was really close and could have went either way. I also disagreed with the 7-5 decision not because I was a Lawyer for Defoe, but because I thought we had a stronger argument and some of the jury was bias (impartial jury).

      • I am also in BDE and was a lawyer for Defoe. I completely agree with Ben here. Many people came into the case knowing who they wanted to vote for, and I think that they didn’t really take into consideration both arguments and really think about how they should make their decision. Also I think that the certain judges basically took over the conversation, and those judges happened to be the ones who were for the schools case. Another thing that I think was overlooked, is the first amendment. There was absolutely no talk about the first amendment, which I think could have really changed this cases outcome, and with the judges somewhat unable to talk, we could not really tell the judges to talk about the first amendment.

      • I completely agree with Ben here. Many people came into the case knowing who they wanted to vote for, and I think that they didn’t really take into consideration both arguments and really think about how they should make their decision. Also I think that the certain judges basically took over the conversation, and those judges happened to be the ones who were for the schools case. Another thing that I think was overlooked, is the first amendment. There was absolutely no talk about the first amendment, which I think could have really changed this cases outcome, and with the judges somewhat unable to talk, we could not really tell the judges to talk about the first amendment.

        • I believe many people came into the case knowing who they wanted to vote for, and I think that they didn’t really take into consideration both arguments and really think about how they should make their decision. Also I think that the certain judges basically took over the conversation, and those judges happened to be the ones who were for the schools case. Another thing that I think was overlooked, is the first amendment. There was absolutely no talk about the first amendment, which I think could have really changed this cases outcome, and with the judges somewhat unable to talk, we could not really tell the judges to talk about the first amendment.

          • I disagree. As one of the judges, I did vote for the school, but I would not say that the jury was biased. The day before, none of the judges (that I know of) were definitely going to vote one way or the other. I certainly came into it not knowing which side I was going to vote for. I think both sides made some very good points, but I still agree with the school.

  11. In my section, Defoe won 7-5. I voted for Defoe because I thought that they had a stronger argument and made better points. I liked their precedents and that they had an answer for almost all of the questions that we asked, and they always gave a good explanation for their answer.

    • Defoe won in my section(7-5). I agree with Libby, Defoe had a much better argument. At some points I agreed with the school lawyers. I did because they made good points about racial tension. Except, they could not prove that Tommy had anything to do with the racial tension. In the end, Defoe lawyers made a better case all around.

  12. As a judge for section GHI I voted for Defoe. Defoe ended up winning 7 to 5. I voted for him for a few reasons. The first reason is that overall the lawyers just made a better more convincing case which led me to vote for him. Secondly I voted for him because his rights do not go away once he enters his school he still has them and his rights should not be violated. Lastly I voted for him because the lawyers really convinced me that the flag is mostly seen as a symbol of your heritage and not a symbol of hatred against African Americans.

    • In my class ACE Defoe won 9 to 3. I voted for the school because they had a lot of really good facts and other examples of the flag being a hateful sign. Also even if Defoe really wanted to wear this shirt it could be a potential threat to the school and other kids. If fights are breaking out, it gives a horrible idea of what the school is like. I think that one boy and his ridicules shirt shouldn’t be given the privilege to screw around with the other kids in school. If he gets into fights and other trouble, then he shouldn’t have to wear the shirt.

      • Even though the school lawyers used better facts in their argument, they failed to cite a crucial point. Neither side knew what the exact wording was in the Tinker ruling and the school paid the price because in the wording it said, “In order to justify the suppression of speech, the school officials must be able to prove that the conduct in question would “materially and substantially interfere” with the operation of the school. In this case, the school district’s actions evidently stemmed from a fear of possible disruption rather than any actual interference.” So Tinker won because they had not caused any problem within the school which means Defoe should be able to wear the Confederate flag because he did not cause any commotion within the school.

  13. In our class, ACE, I voted for Defoe who won 9-3. First of all, the Defoe lawyers brought up key points that changed my opinion. At the beginning of the case, I was somewhat biased towards the school. Once we heard both sides arguments, my opinion was completely changed, to the Defoe side. I agree with what Hannah said, that once he goes into school, he still has rights. These rights were being violated and that’s a fact. The school lawyers were unable to find (or bring up) any evidence that Defoe was causing a disruption in school. Finally, both sides fought a decent argument, but Defoe’s rights were violated; the school had no evidence otherwise, and that’s why Defoe won.

  14. I voted for the Defoe side because of the precedents that the lawyers made. They were much stronger than those provided by the school lawyers. The school lawyers assumed many things such as, that the fight between the black student and Defoe was because of racism. They did not state as many clear facts in their case as the Defoe lawyers did. Our class voted for Defoe.

  15. In my class we were the only class that voted for the school. My vote as a judge was for the school. The school’s lawyers didn’t get to talk as much as Defoe’s lawyers but I thought that the school made a lot of good points in the small amount of time they were able to talk. In the beginning of the case I was on Defoe’s side but in the end the school pointed out good points and has good precedents and guided me to their side.

  16. In section ACE, the Defoe side won their case, with only having three people vote for the school side. I voted for the Defoe side because I think they made a much stronger argument and I also think the school side said a few things that could’ve possibly killed their argument. One thing that the Defoe side said, that made me want to vote for them, was that anything symbol can be interpreted differently and those interpretation can be either positive or controversial. I know that the Confederate Flag can be interpreted to something very bad and racist but a lot of people believe it just symbolizes their heritage. And that doesn’t mean they are bad people.

  17. In my section, the school won the case. There was a lot of back and forth argument about each side’s case, but in the end I decided to vote for Defoe. I think the case could have gone either way because of how strong each argument was. The school made many great points, but I believed that the Defoe lawyers also had great points that pulled me to their side when we voted. A lot of the Supreme Court’s questions were directed towards Defoe’s lawyers, and maybe that’s why I thought the had a lot of great points, but the school’s lawyers made the most out their time with some good ideas. In the end the vote was 5 for Defoe and 7 for the school.

  18. I voted for the Defoe lawyer in our section because they had clear points and good thought out precedents. Although the school had some very good points the Defoe side was more organized and concise. The main reasons I voted for the Defoe side is because he has the freedom to wear that shirt and belt buckle because of the 1st amendment the freedom of speech, and abridging their rights is unconstitutional.

  19. Again in section ACE Defoe won. As a lawyer for Defoe one of our main points was that many symbols have duplicate meanings. And after all isn’t the confederate flag a symbol of the south? Also a lot of the school’s points were based on assumptions rather than complete facts.

    • I am in section ACE and a point that I found was brought up most often was the point that it could cause violence. Many people felt that it wasn’t right to suspend someone for something that COULD lead to violence. Others sided with the School Lawyers and were saying that taking a chance and waiting to make a decision until a kid got hurt was a bad idea and they should stop it before anything bad happened.
      In the end, Defoe won. However, it wasn’t a unanimous vote. I think it was 10-3, but i’m not sure the exact numbers.

      • Also, I forgot to say who I voted for, oops. So I voted for the School because I think that even though violence didn’t happen, you don’t want to take a chance and have a kid getting hurt because he was offended. You would want to stop something badd before it happened, right? Anyways, thats what I thought.

  20. Because of the Defoe hearing my opinion of the flag has changed in many ways. At first I looked at it as a symbol of the confederates and of slavery in the times of the civil war but now it’s much more than that. Some of the kids from BGA have showed me that it can be seen as a symbol of their southern heritage. Defoe lawyers said the same thing about how Tommy Defoe was trying to show the same thing.

  21. In my section, the school won. I think this was because many people in the court understood that it did not matter what Defoe wanted the Confederate flag to represent, but whether other people found it offensive and if it caused a ‘substantial and material disruption’. I think this helped the school win.

  22. In the section BDF the Schools side won the case. Myself, I, voted for Defoe’s side. They made many interesting points that drew me closer to their side. One being made by Ben Gibson, “You can’t just go off an assumption in order to suspend someone.” He is talking about the school and how he believes, as do the other Defoe lawyers, they assumed something would happen, so they suspended Tommy. There was another point the Defoe lawyers made that was, “Symbols are meant to be controversial.” The School had said that people viewed the Confederate Flag in different ways that caused them to say this. I thought this was a strong point because if everyone agreed on everything we wouldn’t get anywhere. The School didn’t make strong enough arguments to make me really believe that suspending him was the right choice. So following this, the final vote was 7-5, in favor of the school.

  23. In my class the school won. I was also in favor of this, as they had a very convincing argument. I agree that the Confederate flag is a symbol of heritage, but symbols are not seen the same by everyone. Also, a big argument was that the Confederate flag was only assumed that it would cause issues, and there is not enough room in Freedom of Speech to have maybes. I do not fully agree with this statement because there was evidence for the school to believe that the Confederate flag has been a past issue if you look back at the schools past precedents. There was clear evidence of forecasted disturbance with issues in the past, and the school was trying to prevent a bigger issue from happening. Also, if the school cannot tell Defoe to not wear a flag after a clear warning, than what rights do they have? Are students allowed to do whatever they please if it falls under an amendment? If Defoe should have won this case, than maybe so.

  24. I agree with Brian. I think that the school should have waited until after there was a problem. I think this because the school never would have known if there was a problem, they can’t just assume there will be one. I ended up voting for Defoe. This is because I think that the Defoe lawyers made a stronger case and had better precedents. I disagree that it is wrong to wear a confederate flag at a mixed race school because the flag doesn’t just represent hatred, it also represents heritage which we have to keep in mind when we are discussing things like the Defoe case.

  25. In section ACE Defoe won. I think that one of the main reasons why they won was because of the fact that there had been no violence yet at Anderson High. Judges in the Supreme Court, including my self, went back and forth about how there could have been violence. The school had taken Tommy about before anything could happen. That is probably the biggest reason why the Defoes won their case.

  26. I am in section ACE, in our section the Defoe side won. Both sides had really good arguments, but at the end we (the Supreme Court ) decided that Defoe had the right to wear his shirt. During the hearing we had more questions for the School lawyers then the Defoe side because we had to find out the history of racial tension in the school. Even though we decided in favor of Defoe, if any fights broke out during his wearing of the flag then it could be band.

  27. I’m in section BDF. In our case, the School won. I thought that Defoe should’ve won because I don’t think that the Confederate Flag represents Slavery. For a much longer period than the Confederacy was around, the Union had slaves. Also, Lincoln clearly stated that if had plantations and needed slaves to run them, they would be the same as the South and secede because of them being worried that slavery will be abolished. Also, everyone was saying that there was forecasted violence in this case, which is part of the Tinker ruling. But in the Tinker case, there was lots of forecasted violence, wasn’t there? On every case about free speech, it will have the potential to have violence. And just because the Confederate Flag is very contraversal, doesn’t mean it has to be banned from sight. Just about any flag can be contraversal, because every country has done something wrong. And someone brought up a point that was saying that they were preventing future violence, when there was no disruption at school yet, and in this case, I don’t think that there is enough forecasted violence to say that it is okay to suspend him. And also, he didn’t mean to show the sign of slavery, he was wearing it to show that he was proud of where he came from and wanted others to know it. And just because the teacher told him not to wear it, doesn’t mean that it was disrupting the school. There are many people who don’t obey certain rules because they want to show what they believe in.

    • Also, in our case. The school had no evidence that there was disruption in school. Whenever you asked them if it made anybody feel unsafe while he was wearing the flag, or if there was any disruption in school. They would say “not that I know of”. They didn’t know any facts that would make this case go against the Tinker ruling, other than the “potential” for violence, when in life, everything has a potential to attract violence.

  28. In my section, GHI, Defoe won. our ruling was very close. If one more person voted for the school instead of Defoe it would have been a tie. I voted for Defoe because of the fact that there hadn’t been any violence because of Defoe’s clothing. I also voted for Defoe because the school suspended him because of “potential” violence which I think is dumb because what if there wasn’t going to be any violence? Then they suspended an innocent person. Overall, the Defoe lawyers just had a better argument.

  29. In Mr. Jenkins’ 1st class section the Supreme Court’s verdict was 5:1 defense . I was the one who was in favor for Defoe. The main point that made me disagree with the defense was when they said the Confederate Flag was a symbol of hatred. Even before we started the whole case I felt like the Confederate Flag is a symbol of Southern heritage. As Tommy Defoe claimed he thought it was a symbol of Southern heritage as well. Although I do not think he should have worn it just out of decency for the African Americans in his school I think he should be able to wear it to express his love for the South, but he could have done it in a more discreet way. The night after the case I researched the Flag a little more and found that I had been wrong about the Flag being a symbol of heritage. In fact it is the South’s battle flag to lead them into battle just like any other battle symbol or tune. There is another flag called the Bonnie Blue that ever since the war it has been the true symbol of Southern heritage. It is just a blue flag with a large single star in the middle. When I found this I realized that I was thankful our battle flag had been turned into a symbol of hate and not our true heritage flag. Another thing I realized is that it is very sad that the South is remembered for it’s biggest sin in history. It’s true that slavery was a horrible thing, but everything has its faults and short comings. I am not asking for us to just dismiss what the South did but, we are a very strong Nation who has done some very good things and fought over and over for what we believe in. All in all I do not think that the Confederate Flag is not purely a symbol of hate. It has been turned into something it shouldn’t be and it’s not. The flag was not meant to hurt people or be a symbol for hatred, and I am sorry it is such a symbol for some people.

  30. I was a lawyer for Defoe in section ACE. The judges voted in favor of Defoe 9 to 3. I think one of the reasons they voted this way was because one of the school’s main points was that Defoe had been involved in a fight with a black man in the past. The school’s lawyers had no proof that the fight had been about anything having to do with race. They were assuming that this fight had involved racism on Defoe’s part, but in reality there was no proof, so this hurt them in the end.

  31. In my class (ACE) the final result was 9 to 3 because Defoe’s lawyers had a strong argument and had proof on their behalf but the school lawyers had some great points but they didnt have a lot of proof and they were stating things off of “what ifs” and not using direct facts

  32. I agree with Erin on her point about the school’s arguments. I feel like Defoe’s lawyers just kept on making the same point over and over again, but not reinforcing it with other precedents. The school’s lawyers made a precise points. I have to congrats both sides of the arguments.

  33. My was judge in section (GHI) and we voted in favor of Defoe. I think this is because the Defoe lawyers and they had better precedents thats supported their case. They also brought up how the Constitution and Bill of Rights helped their case. The school lawyers barely brought up the Constitution, and that is why I think that the Defoe lawyers won the case.

  34. In my section (BDF) I was a judge and the school ended up winning the case. At the beginning of this project, I was more in favor of Defoe but as the case went on, I realized that the Defoe lawyers stated the same point over and over again which was that Defoe wore the flag as a symbol of heritage and not hatred. I also voted for the school because they had more evidence of past “racial smoke” and things that could cause violence. In conclusion, I voted for the school because they made better points and had more evidence.

  35. In my section (GHI) Tommy Defoe’s lawyers (Katharine H., Conor W., and myself’s team) won the case. I think we won because of our precedents and our timing. Our precedents were key because they showed how other courts/cases have ruled and that convinced the judges. Our timing was a big part, too. As some of the judges were turning more towards the school, we would throw in some more precedents or quotes from the Constitution to challenge their thinking, which helped us in the end. We were very prepared, too, which was also very helpful.

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