'Get your [bleep] out of the way': Judge tries to jail man for offending cop

 June 9, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

The Institute for Justice has expressed outrage after a judge tried to jail a man for what he said – an insult to a police officer.

"Judges are supposed to uphold and defend the Constitution, not violate and ignore it," charged IJ attorney Tori Clark. "Judge Bull's actions violated basic notions of free speech and due process—and they are far outside the realm of judicial functions."

The controversy erupted when Nicholas Bull, a municipal judge in Ozark, Alabama, tried to jail a citizen for "simply offending a police officer."

It happened when Reginald Burks, an aircraft mechanic, was stopped by an officer for going 28 mph in a zone marked with a 25 mph limit while taking his kids to school.

"The officer’s radar gun was broken, so he allegedly used his cruise control to estimate Burks' speed. After issuing a speeding ticket, the police officer stepped in front of Burks' car, blocking him from leaving. Burks asked the officer to move, but he refused. Finally, frustrated by the situation, Burks told the officer to 'Get your a** out of the way so I can take my kids to school,'" IJ reported.

When Burks later appeared before Bull to pay a $211 fine Bull "issued an unusual order."

In addition to fines and court costs, Bull demanded that Burks write an apology to the officer. He threatened Burks with jail time if he did not submit the apology within 30 days.

Bull shortly later rescinded his order, at the request of the city prosecutor, when the circumstances of the case started gaining attention, and Burks never apologized.

But the IJ pointed out Bull's threat "is an outrageous violation of the First Amendment, and his attempt to punish Burks for a crime with which he was not charged flies in the face of due-process protections."

In America's judicial system, however, there mostly is no way to hold rogue judges accountable for their "unconstitutional conduct" as they are protected by "judicial immunity," which is a shield for them while "performing their role as a judge."

There have been cases where that immunity, however, does not protect misbehaving judges. One case involved a West Virginia judge who personally carried out a warrantless search of a man's home and another who "personally jailed two children" during their parents' divorce proceedings.

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