Cruise-Gulyas v. Minard, No. 18-2196 (6th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Officer Minard pulled over Cruise-Gulyas for speeding. He wrote her a ticket for a lesser, non-moving violation. As she drove away, she made a vulgar gesture at Minard, who then stopped her again and changed the ticket to a speeding offense. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the denial of Minard’s motion for dismissal of Cruise-Gulyas’s 42 U.S.C. 1983 suit, in which she alleged unconstitutional seizure, restriction of her liberty, and retaliation. Cruise-Gulyas did not break any law that would justify the second stop and at most was exercising her free speech rights. Qualified immunity protects police from personal liability unless they violate a person’s clearly established constitutional or statutory rights; the rights asserted by Cruise-Gulyas meet that standard. Minard’s authority to seize her in connection with the driving infraction ended when the first stop concluded. Cruise-Gulyas’s crude gesture could not provide that new justification. Any reasonable officer would know that a citizen who raises her middle finger engages in speech protected by the First Amendment. An officer who seizes a person for Fourth Amendment purposes without proper justification and issues her a more severe ticket clearly commits an adverse action that would deter her from repeating that conduct in the future.