Giving cops the finger constitutionally protected: Second Circuit

Posted on January 3rd, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Police can't pull you over and arrest you just because you gave them the finger, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York ruled Jan. 3. In a 14-page opinion, the court found that the "ancient gesture of insult is not the basis for a reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or impending criminal activity." John Swartz and his wife Judy Mayton-Swartz had sued two police officers who arrested Swartz in May 2006 after he flipped off an officer who was using a radar device at an intersection in St. Johnsville, NY. Swartz was charged with a violation of New York's disorderly conduct statute, although the charges were dropped on speedy trial grounds.

A federal judge in the Northern District of New York granted summary judgement to the officers in July 2011, but the Court of Appeals overturned that decision and ordered the lower court to take up the case again. Richard Insogna, the officer who stopped Swartz and his wife when they arrived at their destination, claimed he pulled the couple over because he believed Swartz was "trying to get my attention for some reason." The Second Circuit didn't buy that explanation, ruling that the "nearly universal recognition that this gesture is an insult deprives such an interpretation of reasonableness." (Huffington Post, Jan. 3)

Image by Zalo1989



Saying "fuck you" to the judge...

Bill Weinberg's picture

...assuredly is not constitutionally protected, but we say that Penelope Soto is a free speech hero anyway, even if a completely clueless one. The vague report on Mediaite Feb. 5 only tells us this took place in Florida (no city or date), but gloats:

18-year-old Penelope Soto taught an important lesson to millions of young Americans when she was called before a Florida judge yesterday on a drug possession charge. Soto laughed when the judge asked if she had consumed any drugs in the last 24 hours and then said “adios” after he set her bail at $5,000. She stopped laughing when he asked her to return and raised the bond to $10,000.

“Are you serious?” Soto asked. The judge replied, “I am serious. Adios.”

At that point, Soto apparently gave the judge the finger and shouted an expletive at him. He then asked Soto point blank, “Did you say ‘fuck me’?” When she said she did, he found her in criminal contempt of court and sentenced her to 30 days in a county jail.

However, if you watch the video on YouTube it is clear that the judge (who the report doesn't even name!) richly deserved it! He was acting like a vindictive little creep, gratuitously doubling Penelope's bail to $10,000 because she sweetly and inoccently responded "adios" to his "'bye." WTF!?

NBC Miami on Feb. 8 tells us the pig in question was Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat, and that he (thank goodness!) dropped the 30 days in the clink for contempt of court he had slapped her with after Penelope apolgized for flipping him off. Good that she didn't get the 30 days, but bad that her bail wasn't dropped back down to $5,000—and that she had to apologize. She was the one who was owed an apology!


Comment by Bill Weinberg on Feb 8th, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Court: flipping off cops protected by First Amendment

Global Ganja Report's picture The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld a district court decision finding for a plaintiff who sued a Michigan police officer for upgrading her traffic violation to a more serious speeding violation after she raised her middle finger at the cop. (Jurist)
Comment by Global Ganja Report on Mar 15th, 2019 at 11:45 pm

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