Hello Officer, read my middle finger!!

In a 14-page opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled that the “ancient gesture of insult is not the basis for a reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or impending criminal activity.” Read this: giving a cop the finger!

This case all started when John Swartz  flipped off an officer who was using a radar device at an intersection in St. Johnsville, N.Y. Swartz was later charged with a violation of New York’s disorderly conduct statute. Swartz and his wife Judy Mayton-Swartz sued the two police officers who arrested him.

The officer’s record and explanation as to why he pulled over the couple on this case is classic! Richard Insogna, the officer who stopped Swartz and his wife claimed he pulled the couple over because he believed Swartz was “trying to get my attention for some reason.” The officer further claimed: “I thought that maybe there could be a problem in the car. I just wanted to assure the safety of the passengers,” and “I was concerned for the female driver, if there was a domestic dispute.”

Thankfully the appeals court didn’t buy that crap, ruling that the “nearly universal recognition that this gesture is an insult deprives such an interpretation of reasonableness.”

This opinion is awesome. In a wonderful analysis of the standard of “reasonable suspicion” the Court lamented

Perhaps there is a police officer somewhere who would interpret an automobile passenger’s giving him the finger as a signal of distress, creating a suspicion that something occurring in the automobile warranted investigation. And perhaps that interpretation is what prompted Insogna to act, as he claims. But the nearly universal recognition that this gesture is an insult deprives such an interpretation of reasonableness. This ancient gesture of insult is not the basis for a reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or impending criminal activity. Surely no passenger planning some wrongful conduct toward another occupant of an automobile would call attention to himself by giving the finger to a police officer.

Hey officer Krupke, Krup you!

indexHere’s the opinion.

Comments:

  1. Reblogged this on Life and everything that goes with it and commented:
    I gotta print this out and keep it in my car for when I give a special salute to a police officer

    Comment by izzyjsmom on January 3, 2013 at 4:50 pm

  2. […] Here’s the opinion. […]

    Pingback by Hello Officer, read my middle finger!! « The Legal Satyricon on January 3, 2013 at 5:28 pm

  3. […] the finger didn’t amount to reasonable suspicion to warrant an investigation by that officer.  (See Hello Officer, Read my Middle Finger!).  Yesterday, the New York Judge Court of Appeals declared swearing at a police officer equally […]

    Pingback by Because sometimes the finger just isn’t enough… « ContiFazz on February 8, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Submit a comment: