This Morning! Ventura County Denied Additional TRO to Direct Sheriff to Close Church for Continuing to Exercise 1st Amendment

Today, the County of Ventura sought an additional restraining order from the Superior Court against Godspeak Calvary Chapel because the church continued its worship services last Sunday despite an emergency restraining order that was issued last Friday, August 7, 2020.

Today’s ex parte request asked the court to not only hold Pastor Rob McCoy in contempt of court for exercising his First Amendment right to practice his religion freely, but it also sought to authorize and direct the Sheriff of Ventura County to take all actions reasonable and necessary to close the church property.

Correction:  The Court scheduled a hearing on the County’s motion for contempt for August 28, 2020 but denied the County’s request to order the Sheriff to close the church.

Judge O’Neill mentioned the importance of the balance between the First Amendment and the health risks as well as his concern with escalation and allowing the Sheriff to maintain a neutral, peace keeping position.   

On Sunday morning, August 9, 2020, the County of Ventura sent two officials to surveil Godspeak Calvary Chapel and its individual members when the church held its regular Sunday morning worship services.

Pastor Rob McCoy has expressed the church’s belief that neither the state or county has any business prohibiting indoor worship services based on irrational fear of COVID-19. Godspeak hosts a “Fireside Chat” that is livestreamed every evening where Pastor McCoy has interviewed numerous physicians and other experts, which provides a basis for the Godspeak’s belief that the infringement on the free exercise of religion and liberty in general is unjustified.

The County sought a restraining order against the church, its congregation and any person acting in concert with them by authorizing and directing the Sheriff’s Office “to immediately take all actions reasonable and necessary to close the Property to prevent any further indoor worship services at the Property, until further order of court.”

The two officials signed declarations upon which the County based its argument stating they conducted surveillance from their car in the parking lot for approximately 6 1/2 hours.

The Director of Code Compliance said, “At one point while we were parked in the parking lot on the Property, a woman approached from the driver side of our car and asked if we had ‘signed the Newsom recall petition yet.’ She approached numerous other individuals in the parking lot with the same request; she was not wearing a mask or face covering.”

A Senior Code Compliance officer said, “Throughout my time observing the people in the parking lot and sidewalk areas on the Property, I saw no obvious attempts at social distancing and behavior and comments overheard suggested that many were friends, rather than household members. Many people were seen hugging and shaking hands, and standing in close groups talking together for extended periods of time.”

Godspeak Calvary Chapel and Rob McCoy are being represented by Tyler & Bursch, LLP and Advocates for Faith & Freedom, a nonprofit legal organization. Attorney Robert Tyler, Partner and President respectively, said, “I never thought I would see the day where local officials give testimony in the American court system that has the ring of a communist inquisition more than a fair judicial process where the defendant is allowed to prepare and present his evidence. We believe that basic principles of due process requires a trial on evidence before a single Governor can suspend constitutional liberties for such an extended period of time.”

Godspeak desires to conduct a full evidentiary trial where it is able to present experts who will prove that the underlying basis for the continued state of emergency and that the quarantining of healthy people is unjustified and irrational. Some of the evidence was argued in the briefing previously filed. Read our opposition to this motion for temporary restraining order HERE.

About Tyler & Bursch, LLP:  With offices in Murrieta and Anaheim, the lawyers and advisors at Tyler & Bursch, LLP have been serving clients throughout Southern California for over 20 years. Tyler & Bursch, LLP (www.tylerbursch.com)  provides legal and financial support to the non-profit law firm, Advocates for Faith & Freedom (www.faith-freedom.com), in defense of constitutional liberties.


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Bruce Boyer, candidate for VC Sheriff
Bruce Boyer, candidate for VC Sheriff
8 months ago

Any doubt that they have an agenda? Well if they going to lock up Pastor Rob I and others will join him!
Anyone think thta a Constitutional sheriff would allow this for one minute?

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
9 months ago

The REAL question is, why would leftist government employees and their (numerous) civilian supporters in the Conejo Valley >not< surveil others in the community they disagree with?

Especially Christians and Torah-following Jews.

Again — Neither the State of California, nor Ventura County, have considered churches and synagogues essential community services since at least 2008. Look at what LED UP to this, folks.

C. Collier
C. Collier
9 months ago

Surveillance of people attending church. I guess the County is channeling Chairman Mao.