No First Amendment Right to Bark at a Police Dog

So an Ohio trial court judge held last Friday in State v. Stephens. There had been an earlier case on the subject in Ohio, State v. Gilchrist (Ohio Ct. App. 2003), and the Gilchrist trial judge found that applying the law to the defendant did violate the First Amendment, a decision that the state apparently didn’t properly challenge on appeal. But the judge in the most recent case concluded that Gilchrist was limited to situations where the defendant was quite far from the dog. In a case where the defendant was much closer to the dog, the law (here, a city ordinance banning “willfully and maliciously taunt[ing], torment[ing], [or] teas[ing] … any dog used by the Police Department in the performance of the functions or duties of such Department”) could constitutionally be applied to him.

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