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Speeding and speech

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tranquility

Senior Member
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? FED, MO

A person traveling on the highway passes a radar set up by the police to catch speeders. To warn drivers heading into the set up, he flashed his lights. Police arrest him for interfering with an investigation. (Later dropped.) ACLU sues anyway. Federal judge says person has a first amendment right to warn other motorists of a speed trap or police.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/02/05/federal-judge-rules-drivers-allowed-to-warn-other-motorists-speed-traps/?cmpid=cmty_twitter_fn

While I agree with this as a general theory, I wonder what the holding actually is specifically. For example, a case in CA had a person validly arrested for the same obstruction-type offense. What happened was a person was about to sell drugs to an undercover officer when the person's friend came up to him and said something to the effect of "That's 5-0" with the clear intent to inform the person the buyer was an undercover officer and warn the person to not sell drugs. I don't know how the judge distinguished such an act here and would want to know how he did so. Theoretically, each act of speech prevented a crime from happening although one gave very specific information to a specific person while the other gave general information to general people. Why would one be protected speech while the other not?
 


TigerD

Senior Member
Elli. v. City of Ellisville, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12859

While I agree with this as a general theory, I wonder what the holding actually is specifically. For example, a case in CA had a person validly arrested for the same obstruction-type offense. What happened was a person was about to sell drugs to an undercover officer when the person's friend came up to him and said something to the effect of "That's 5-0" with the clear intent to inform the person the buyer was an undercover officer and warn the person to not sell drugs. I don't know how the judge distinguished such an act here and would want to know how he did so. Theoretically, each act of speech prevented a crime from happening although one gave very specific information to a specific person while the other gave general information to general people. Why would one be protected speech while the other not?
The judge distinguish the scenarios because one was expressive conduct to communicate a need to conform oneself with the law (RSMo. 575.030) and the other (your scenario above) was conduct to warn of impending discovery or apprehension. The city ordinance is nearly identical to RSMo. 307.100. Hence the need to grant the injunction. Even though the City chose to not enforce the city ordinance, 375.100, officers were empowered to enforce the statute RSMo. 307.100.

The result is a continued chilling effect on legal speech.

I agree with the decision. - not that my agreement means much

DC
 

tranquility

Senior Member
Thanks for the cite. I just read The Volokh Conspiracy article on the issue at:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/02/05/flashing-headlights-to-warn-drivers-of-a-speed-trap-constitutionally-protected-speech/

I will read the case that is linked. He uses other examples of the type I mentioned.
 
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