A man in Connecticut has been cleared to continue his suit for being arrested for his response to a ticket:U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel in White Plains ruled last week that Willian Barboza's rights were violated when the Fairfield County, Connecticut, resident was arrested on an aggravated-harassment charge three years ago. The New York Civil Liberties Union publicized a transcript of the proceeding Tuesday.Barboza protested his speeding ticket by writing three curse words on his payment form. He also replaced the village's name, Liberty, with "Tyranny."The village, 100 miles northwest of New York City, refused to let him pay by mail after one of its clerks, who were all women, told a local judge his profane phrase, which referred to them as "bitches," upset and alarmed them, according to court records. The judge referred Barboza's speeding payment form to a prosecutor and ordered Barboza to appear in court.When Barboza showed up, the local judge reprimanded him for his comments on the form and told him he would be arrested, Seibel said in her ruling. Barboza was handcuffed and taken away before his release on $200 bail.Seibel said the arrest violated Barboza's First Amendment rights, and she noted the criminal charge eventually was dismissed on those grounds. She said Barboza's phrase was crude and offensive to some but "did not convey an imminent threat and was made in the context of complaining about government activity."
This is similar to the Amy Barnes case here in Cobb, where she was arrested for voicing her opinion and later received a hefty civil settlement. What's different is that Mr. Barboza's statements were written and directed not at police but court personnel. Nevertheless, no matter how crude his response, it is Constitutionally protected.
But never forget one of the Steakley Golden Rules that just because something is Constitutional, that doesn't make it a good idea.