Federal judge rules against Del Gallo

Posted
Wednesday, April 02
PITTSFIELD — A federal judge has ruled that Pittsfield Postmaster Robert Parent was within his rights to bar an office-seeker from collecting nomination signatures on the Fenn Street post office walkway.

In a 49-page decision, U.S. District Court Judge Michael A. Ponsor stated that Rinaldo Del Gallo III was "campaigning for political office" on April 21, 2004, while standing on federal property, which is against the law.

"The postal sidewalk constitutes a nonpublic forum, and the regulation banning political campaigning within it is reasonable," Ponsor wrote, drawing the distinction between that and a public sidewalk.

Del Gallo contended that the federal regulation was not consistently enforced before, and that he was the victim of bias.

Ponsor disagreed.

"No reasonable jury could conclude ... that the decision to enforce the regulation arose from bias against the content of (the) plaintiff's views or expressions," Ponsor wrote.

Del Gallo was seeking signatures in a bid for the Governor's Council.

When customers complained that he was bothering them and blocking the entrance, post office supervisors called police. Del Gallo, who is also a Pittsfield attorney, was arrested after he refused to leave.

Del Gallo later was ordered to pay a $25 fine after being found responsible for trespassing. He then sued Parent, which led to Ponsor's decision.

At the time of Del Gallo's arrest, another candidate running for political office said that she had gathered signatures at area post offices, and that it appeared post office officials were selectively enforcing the law.

"I don't believe that people really believe that one day in 2004, for no particular reason, the U.S. Post Office had an epiphany and decided to enforce a regulation that they haven't enforced in decades," Del Gallo said. "Some people didn't like me, and they went into the post office and complained."

Del Gallo said he has not decided whether to appeal Ponsor's decision in federal appeal's court.

"I don't know," he said. "It's so much work."

U.S. Postal Service spokesman Robert Cannon could not be reached for comment.

Although pleased with the amount of time that Ponsor took in deciding the case, Del Gallo said he would have preferred his case went to trial. However, he said that when the state's Supreme Judicial Court transferred the matter to the U.S. District Court in Springfield, it prevented him from using a section of case law to present his case.


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