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Nuclear Unicorn

(19,497 posts)
Tue Sep 15, 2015, 05:20 PM Sep 2015

Scrawling 'F**k Your S**tty Town Bitches' On Speeding Ticket Is Free Speech, Judge Finds

Scrawling 'F**k Your S**tty Town Bitches' On Speeding Ticket Is Free Speech, Judge Finds

-- snip --

On May 4, 2012, Barboza, then 22, was driving through the small, scenic town of Liberty when he was given a speeding ticket.

Clearly sore about the incident, Barboza crossed out "Liberty" on the payment form and replaced it with "Tyranny." He then scrawled the offending phrase across the top, pleaded guilty to speeding and put the form in the mail.

Justice Brian P. Rourke informed Barboza in September of that year that his payment had been rejected and he'd have to make the two-hour trek from Connecticut to appear in court.

There, Rourke lectured Barboza over his use of foul language, before prosecutors from the Sullivan County district attorney's office instructed police officers to arrest Barboza on a charge of aggravated harassment. Barboza was taken to the Liberty police station, where he was booked, fingerprinted and handcuffed to a bench. After being shuffled between courts, he was eventually released when he paid a $200 bail.


Too many with power don't like having their power questioned, mocked or denigrated. Yet, it's their own conduct that undermines them the most.
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(5,417 posts)
11. I had somebody try that on me once
Tue Sep 15, 2015, 06:22 PM
Sep 2015

They came in 5 minutes before close to pay a university parking ticket. I told them we don't accept loose change and they will have to roll it themselves. They left to get rolls, and we closed for the day.

Came back the next day, and the fine was doubled since it was now late. They were not to happy.



(33,688 posts)
12. I remember a story about a farmer whitewashing a check
Tue Sep 15, 2015, 06:29 PM
Sep 2015

onto the side of a cow. It was held to be negotiable.

That seems appropriate, if he can find a cow to paint.



(62,444 posts)
5. Depends. The intent is unclear
Tue Sep 15, 2015, 05:44 PM
Sep 2015

Perhaps that town is known for its fine social companions.

This person may have been premising an insult on the quality of social companions in that town, or merely expressing a desire for the ones who are less than excellent.



(11,843 posts)
13. Well, let's be precise, the 'S**tty Town B******s'
Tue Sep 15, 2015, 08:23 PM
Sep 2015

Not the normal ones, the S**tty ones. But it still unclear on who the subject is. Is it a command? A desire? Who knows what he wants?

What I want to know is if he is free to say it, what happens with the time and money the city took away from him for saying it.


(53,339 posts)
14. City should have ignored the comments, took the money and run
Tue Sep 15, 2015, 08:28 PM
Sep 2015

Trying to criminalize it was downright stupid.


(26,632 posts)
9. I like that the district attorney is liable for damages (personally, I hope), but would that
Tue Sep 15, 2015, 06:11 PM
Sep 2015

also apply to the judge who dragged him back there in the first place? Hopefully the damages will be in an amount that causes some sting and sends a wider message.

This is interesting as well:

"Seibel also ruled that Liberty will have to stand trial for failing to train police officers regarding the First Amendment."

If the police officers weren't liable because they were just following instructions, what would be different if they had been trained? Were they supposed to refuse the instruction to arrest, but because they weren't taught that the town will be put on trial and perhaps punished for the training failure? If they had been trained, would they then be liable for the arrest?


Jim Lane

(11,175 posts)
16. As to your questions about the police training, that's probably what's going to a jury.
Tue Sep 15, 2015, 11:10 PM
Sep 2015

The general rule under section 1983 (the federal statute that was presumably the basis for the judge's ruling) is that a governmental entity isn't automatically liable for every deprivation of rights by one of its minions. The minion is personally liable. To recover against the town, though, Mr. Barboza will have to show that the town failed to train its police properly and that this failure was a proximate cause of his injury.

Your post outlines one argument the town can make in its defense -- that proper training wouldn't have made a difference here.

Just from the brief news report, I interpret the judge as holding that the DA is clearly liable but that the town's liability is unclear, so that issue must be tried to a jury (or possibly before a judge if it's going to be a bench trial).



(3,457 posts)
10. My friend, George, hit this speed bump a few years ago and won...
Tue Sep 15, 2015, 06:18 PM
Sep 2015

MORRISTOWN, N.J. — The court battle was ignited by two words — “legal extortion.”
George Goodwin wrote the powerful words on the memo line of a $153 check for three overdue parking tickets and mailed it to the Morristown court in 1993.
Municipal Court Judge Michael Noonan, known for demanding respect for his court, took offense. Noonan charged Goodwin with contempt and issued a warrant for his arrest.
Goodwin faced off with Noonan in court Monday and walked away with what could be described in two words — legal vindication.

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