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First Amendment

Jury Trial Planned re $445 Obscenity Ticket Issued Over Plastic Dangling Bull Privates

Posted Jul 27, 2011 6:37 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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At least three states have considered banning the fake plastic bull testicles some drivers hang on the back of their pickups, but haven't yet done so.

So that puts a South Carolina town that issued Virginia Tice, 65, a $445 obscenity ticket earlier this month on the front lines of a cutting-edge constitutional issue. Represented on a pro bono basis by Savage & Savage, she was going to ask for a jury trial but discovered that Bonneau's police chief had already done so, according to the Post and Courier and Reuters.

"She's such a sweet lady and she just says 'I don't want to pay the fine.' We'll let a jury decide whether this is really criminal behavior. I don't want to take away from the importance of free speech, but it's really comical," attorney Scott Bischoff of the Savage firm tells the newspaper, explaining that he plans to pursue a First Amendment defense.

Tice was ticketed under a state law banning bumper stickers that describe, in an offensive manner, "sexual acts, excretory functions, or parts of the human body." She could be fined a maximum of $445 but faces no jail time, if convicted.

"This is certainly not a staple of my ticket writing in Bonneau," the city's chief of police, Franco Fuda, told Reuters today. However, if the fake testicles pose a free-speech issue, he says, "I don't know what they would be trying to express."

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Fla. Senate Seeks to Ban ‘Truck Nutz’"

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