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Woman Arrested for Cursing at Cops Gets $100K Settlement

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on December 15, 2014 9:16 AM

A woman who was arrested after she "F-bombed" police officers is getting what she deserves... $100,000.

Cobb County, Georgia, is set to pay that amount to Amy Elizabeth Barnes to settle her claims in federal court. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Barnes is a "well-known political activist" who was jailed after a 2012 incident where she shouted "f--- the police" and gave two officers the finger.

How did this ordeal end with Barnes getting paid $100,000?

Shouting Expletives at the Police

As a general rule, we caution against insulting the police, but that doesn't mean it can't be completely legal. The Journal-Constitution reports that Barnes was arrested and jailed on charges of disorderly conduct and breaching the peace after shouting expletives at two Cobb County officers.

These charges were eventually thrown out by a judge in 2013, but Barnes was still steamed about being arrested in the first place. The judge who dismissed her criminal charges laid it out best: "The defendant's statements, although offensive to this court, clearly constitute political speech."

Free speech protections can allow political expressions which may be off-color -- like Barnes' F-bomb. But dropping expletives in certain settings can still get you in legal trouble -- like cursing in open court. Barnes' saving grace may have been that her expression was seen as political rather than simply obscene or violent.

Settlement Means 'Sorry, Not Sorry'

You might think it's unusual that Barnes received such a large sum for criminal charges that were later thrown out. But legal analyst Page Pate tells Atlanta's WABE Radio that since there was no legitimate cause to arrest Barnes (she wasn't actually breaking any laws) the settlement really reflects her unlawful arrest and jailing.

Plus, it would have been just as easy for cops to have issued Barnes a citation instead of having her spend the night in jail. By settling with Barnes for the large sum, Cobb County doesn't have to admit fault.

Perhaps Barnes doesn't care. WABE reports that she'll be using the money to go to law school.

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