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  • Writer's pictureMatt Bunch

Cruse-Gulyas vs Minard - Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals - Decided March 13, 2019 in favor of Driver

Updated: Apr 6, 2019

Officer Minard pulled over a lady named Cruise-Gulyas for speeding in Michigan. The officer decided to write her a ticket for a non-moving violation (not a speeding ticket). However, when Cruse-Gulyas drove away, she gave Minard "the middle finger", oblivous to the kindness that he offered her by lowering the penalty against her!  Officer Minard then chased her down in his police car and stopped her a second time.  He CHANGED the ticket from a non-moving violation to a speeding ticket.

Cruise-Gulyas sued Officer Minard in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 lawsuit alleging unconstitutional stop & seizure, restriction of her liberty, and retaliation. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the U.S. District Court that Cruise-Gulyas DID NOT BREAK ANY LAW that would permit Officer Minard to stop her a second time becuase she was exercising her First Amendment right of free speech. The Court said that a reasonable officer of the law understands that a person who "flips off" an officer with her middle finger is engaging in constitutionally-protected free speech. 

Usually, police officers are protected from lawsuits by qualified immunity, but in this case, Officer Minard violated Cruise-Gulyas’ free speech. The Sixth Circuit found that Minard’s authority to pull her over for speeding had ended when he let her go the first time.  Getting "flipped off" by Cruise-Gulyas did not give the police officer a new, justifiable reason to pull her over a SECOND time and give her a speeding ticket for the original infraction. Officer Minard may have not had proper justification for giving Cruise-Gulyas a more severe ticket.  The U.S. District Court remanded the case for further proceedings (meaning, sent it back to the lower court).  In other words, Cruise-Gulyas can proceed with her lawsuit against Officer Minard for violating her constitutional rights. THIS IS A PRIME EXAMPLE OF FAILING TO LEAVE THE SCENE AS NON-MEMORABLE AS POSSIBLE, as explained in this video

Link to the opinion: Cruse-Gulyas vs Miniard, Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals

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