Margeson v. Scott

Lawsuit filed against a Blossburg Borough police officer for issuing a criminal citation for using mild profanity in a verbal dispute.

Court/Assoc.: US District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania

Attorneys/Firms: Mary Catherine Roper & Witold Walczak (ACLU-PA), Power of Dechert LLP

In June 2015, Lance Margeson, a resident of Horesheads, NY, was driving through the borough as part of his employment when he was flagged down by a woman. The two got into an argument about an earlier incident in which the woman’s children had shouted profanities at Margeson. The discussion grew heated, and Margeson, in frustration, called the woman a “bitch.” She then reported the incident to Blossburg Police Officer Robert Scott. Officer Scott charged Margeson with disorderly conduct because of his use of the word “bitch.” Margeson was convicted of disorderly conduct at his first court appearance, but the charges were thrown out on appeal.

On March 3, 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and Dechert LLP filed a federal lawsuit against a Officer Scott for issuing a criminal citation to Lance Margeson, who used mild profanity in a verbal dispute with a borough resident. The suit was filed after Blossburg refused to train its officers on First Amendment rights.

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