Reginald Burks, a father and aircraft mechanic, was pulled over in December for going 28 MPH in a 25 MPH zone while taking his kids to school. After issuing a speeding ticket, the police officer stepped in front of Burks’ car, blocking him from leaving. Frustrated by the situation, Burks told the officer to “Get your a** out of the way so I can take my kids to school.”

Four months later, Burks appeared before Judge Bull to plead guilty and pay the $211 fine. But during the hearing, Judge Bull issued an unusual order. In addition to imposing the fine and court costs, Judge Bull mandated that Burks issue a written apology to the officer who pulled him over. Burks had 30 days to write the apology or face 10 to 30 days in jail. Burks never issued an apology, and after the situation gained national attention, Judge Bull rescinded his order in May at the request of the city prosecutor. 

Judge Bull’s threat to imprison Burks for his speech 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. That’s why the Institute for Justice (IJ) issued a statement condemning the actions of Judge Bull.

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Tori Clark

PIA and 4th Amendment Intake Attorney

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