Watch sheriff's deputies arrest Ohio county commissioner Niki Frenchko who criticized sheriff

Ohio's Trumbull County commissioner Niki Frenchko was arrested in the middle of a public meeting in July 2022 when she criticized the sheriff. In a video (watch below), you can see Frenchko sitting at the dais speaking, when a deputy walks up behind her and says, "Miss Frenchko, please stand up."

She asks him why, and he replies, "Because I'm requesting you to stand up, please. We're not gonna deal with this. You're being very disruptive. You're disrupting the meeting."

Frenchko says, "I'm not—" but the deputy cuts her off and orders her to stand up. She gets up and is taken to another room, where she is handcuffed and arrested.

Frenchko was charged with the misdemeanor crime of "preventing or disrupting a lawful meeting" with speech that "outrages the sensibilities of the group." The charge was dropped, and Frenchko filed a federal lawsuit against the other county commissioners for conspiring to have her arrested.

U.S. District Judge J. Philip Calabrese ruled this week that Frenchko's right to free speech was violated. In his 81-page opinion, he wrote:

"Here in America, we do not arrest our political opponents. This case tests that longstanding norm as well as our Constitution's robust protections for free speech that allow us to criticize our representatives and public officials. Plaintiff Niki Frenchko won election to the three-member Board of County Commissioners of Trumbull County, Ohio. She was an outsider, and the only member of County government from her political party. As a public official, she used her position to needle the incumbents and, in her view, hold them accountable for their decisions. For their part, they viewed her as ignorant of the basic workings of county government and a nuisance, to put it mildly."

Frenchko's attorney told FOX 8 News that "The judge also stripped them of their sovereign immunity, which means they can be held individually liable for monetary damages."


A federal judge says an Ohio elected official's constitutional rights were violated when her colleagues on a county board of commissioners had her arrested for criticizing the county sheriff during a public meeting. The judge ruled in favor of Trumbull County Commissioner Niki Frenchko in her lawsuit against several county officials. "I felt compelled to make sure I file something because the government officials don't have the ability to treat someone as they did to me," Frenchko said. Frenchko was arrested in 2022 and charged under an Ohio law that makes it a misdemeanor to "prevent or disrupt a lawful meeting." The law prohibits obstructive conduct or speech that "outrages the sensibilities of the group." The charge was later dropped. Frenchko subsequently filed a federal lawsuit. U.S. District Judge J. Philip Calabrese ruled Tuesday that Frenchko was arrested for exercising her right to free speech. Damages will be awarded later.

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Previously, "A New Mexico county commissioner has been removed from office over his participation in the January 6th insurrection."