Recent Broward Law Blog Features

Friday, November 27, 2009

Four Letter 'F' Word Faces Constitutional Challenge After Colorado Arrest

Free Speech is my thing, so this story is a natural for the Broward Law Blog, even though it emerges from a high school in Colorado. This piece, and I have no intent to be offensive, is about a 'Fucking' Motion to Dismiss. Stay till the end and you will find the Broward connection.

Here is the deal. A teenager with a Marlboro ran into a problem with smoking in the boys room of a local school, and he was charged with a crime, a class three misdemeanor, but apparently not for smoking or lighting up.

Instead, the student was faced with the charge of 'interference with staff, faculty, or students of an educational institution' by engaging in a verbal torrent of expletives towards the principal of the school after the incident. He proceeded, in anger, to call out the principal thusly: "you 'fucker,' you 'fucking fag'." Do not know if the student was suspended or expelled but he was criminally prosecuted.

That is where our hero of the day, Colorado Public Defender Eric Vanata comes into the picture. Charged with the responsibility of defending the student on the bogus charge, he writes a sophisticated brief on the historical and routine use of the word 'fuck', and how it is so much a part of the American culture, it cannot be deemed constitutionally offensive, illegal, or prohibited. He does so by tracing the origin of the word, and discussing, in a literate, sardonic, and accurate way, how pervasive the word is in our culture. How it permeates all walks of life, as an adverb, noun, or adjective.

As other bloggers have already picked up on this, I have to steal their line- that there is no way I can do this f-ing justice.

So here it is, the entire Motion to Dismiss the Constitutionality of Fuck, "Fucker" and "Fucking Fag"- in pdf form, from Colorado v. C.L., a Child (Dist. Ct. of Larimer County, Co.)

Johnny Carson once said there is no such thing as an original joke. So here is your Broward County anecdote, with a dedication to the late jurist, Judge John King. I know that both Public Defender Howard Finkelstein and I are old enough to remember him. And years ago there was a motorcylce cop in Fort Lauderdale, the late Charley Bruce, who arrested one of our clients for cursing him out and shouting expletives at him- which was an easy thing to do if you knew Charlie. But this ponytailed young PD named Finkelstein came up with a motion to dismiss the arrest on free speech grounds, and Judge King agreed. I guess Broward is just a few years ahead of Colorado on this one. I will post Howard's motion next week on this blog, thirty years later.

1 comment:

  1. Finklestein was a head of his time. So was King. Need more judges like that today.