Thursday, October 16


'Shooting the bird' rude, crude but legal
Appeals court overturns conviction

Using the hand signal rooted in ancient times and popularly known today as "shooting the bird" may be rude, but it's not necessarily disorderly conduct, a Texas appeals court has ruled.

At issue for the 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin was whether Robert Lee Coggin incited "an immediate breach of the peace" when he allegedly gestured at a motorist with his raised middle finger two years ago as the former Lockhart resident tailgated a slow-moving vehicle in the left lane of U.S. 183.

Coggin was charged under an obscure state law that says "a person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly makes an offensive gesture or display in a public place, and the gesture or display tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace."

A jury last year convicted Coggin, 34, and fined him $250 for making "an offensive gesture by raising his middle finger in a public place," a finding that the appeals court reversed.