Freedom to bark denied

Freedom to bark denied

03 March 2012 By Lawyers Weekly

Raising the question of whether law enforcement in Mason, Ohio, has anything better to do than prosecute somebody for barking at a dog, a judge this week has rejected a man's First Amendment…

Raising the question of whether law enforcement in Mason, Ohio, has anything better to do than prosecute somebody for barking at a dog, a judge this week has rejected a man's First Amendment defense, reports Lowering the Bar.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Ohio man Ryan Stephens is facing trial for barking at Timber the police dog after a judge deemed Stephens' argument that "prosecuting him for barking violated his First Amendment rights" invalid.

Stephens was arrested for "assaulting a police dog", after he allegedly walked up to the window of a police cruiser and barked at a police dog inside. When arrested, Stephens reportedly argued that "the dog started it" but will now have to make that argument to a jury.

SPONSORED CONTENT

Stephens didn't make contact with the dog (luckily for him), but the law also provides that no person shall "recklessly ... [t]aunt, torment, or strike a police dog or horse ...."

The prosecution argued that even if the barking was speech, it would constitute "fighting words" because it upset Timber.

The judge held that the barking was conduct, not speech, and that even if it was speech, the law was aimed at conduct and any "impairment of a First Amendment right is incidental."

Freedom to bark denied
Intro image
lawyersweekly logo
The Women in Law Awards is the benchmark for excellence, recognising the empowering women influencing the Australian legal profession, celebrating the female leaders, role models and future champions of the industry. Register for the waitlist today for the opportunity to attend this remarkable awards ceremony and network with top legal professionals and fellow peers.
Visit womeninlaw.com.au