TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Court Uses First Amendment To Reverse Conviction Of Man Who Flipped The Bird At His Pastor During A Sermon

ABA Journal, Man Who Flipped the Bird At His Pastor Gets His Conviction Overturned On First Amendment Grounds:

A churchgoer convicted of disorderly conduct for flipping the bird at his pastor was engaging in speech protected by the First Amendment, according to the Georgia Supreme Court.

The court reversed the conviction of David Justin Freeman in a decision on Monday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

The incident occurred in August 2014. Pastor Jason Berry of 12 Stones Church in Flowery Branch asked teachers in the congregation to stand so congregants could pray for a successful school year. Freeman also stood, stared angrily at the pastor, and raised his middle finger, causing the pastor to feel afraid. At the end of the prayer, the church service ended and Freeman began yelling about sending children to evil public schools where they would be raised by Satan. ...

The Georgia Supreme Court said that the disorderly conduct law is not unconstitutional on its face because it reaches only expressive conduct that amounts to fighting words or a true threat. But Freeman’s conduct didn’t amount to fighting words or a true threat, and his raised middle finger constituted constitutionally protected expression, the court said.

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2017/10/court-reverses-conviction-of-man-who-flipped-the-bird-at-his-pastor-during-a-sermon-on-first-amendme.html

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Comments

"Afraid"? I cannot believe the pastor pressed criminal charges against this nut unless he'd been expelled from the congregation and was trespassing.

New York has a law contra disrupting religious services but it's hard to see how you can be deemed to have violated it if (at the time of the incident) the service was over.

This is the pastor:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xs3JjCCNHtc


Evangelicals have their own sensibility. For those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing that they like. Something cheesy and crass about it all.

Posted by: Art Deco | Oct 15, 2017 11:47:24 AM