SWARTZ v. INSOGNA

Full story: FindLaw

Elmer Robert Keach, III, Law Office of Elmer Robert Keach, III, PC, Amsterdam, N.Y., for Appellants.Catherine Ann Barber, Murphy, Burns, Barber & Murphy, LLP, Albany, N.Y. , for Appellees.
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1 - 20 of 23 Comments Last updated Dec 31, 2013
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The Pitbull

Johnstown, NY

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#1
Jan 18, 2013
 
I think that Mr. Insognia is an upstanding officer. He was always a joy to work with and had the patience of a saint. Good luck my brother.

Since: Dec 12

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#3
Jan 18, 2013
 

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Ham is a very salty meat. Now, don't get me wrong; I enjoy a nice slice of ham or two during the holidays, but I certainly don't make it a staple of my diet.

I particluarly enjoy a nice baked ham with a brown sugar and pineappe glaze. Served with potatoes au gratin, it certainly makes a festive holiday feast!

Yes, I think that it's fair to say that I'm as much a ham-fan as the next person.
factchecker

Johnstown, NY

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#4
Jan 18, 2013
 
The Pitbull wrote:
I think that Mr. Insognia is an upstanding officer. He was always a joy to work with and had the patience of a saint. Good luck my brother.
Mr. insognia, a fine upstanding officer? Its my understanding that Mr. Insognia was fired as a Sheriff's deputy due to conduct unbecoming an officer. I believe the reason was he was having sex with inmates in exchange for use of his cell phone! I guess you see nothing wrong with that which give us an insight to the kind of officer YOU are.
johns story

Clifton Park, NY

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#5
Jan 18, 2013
 

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In his deposition John gave the following account of the incident. In May 2006, he and Judy were driving through the Village of St. Johnsville on their way to the home of Judy's son. Judy was driving; John was in the passenger seat. At an intersection, John saw a local police officer, Defendant Insogna, in a police car using a radar device, of which John became aware because he had a radar detector. John expressed his displeasure at what the officer was doing by reaching his right arm outside the passenger side window and extending his middle finger over the car's roof. The Plaintiffs, who were not speeding or committing any other traffic violation, continued to the home of Judy's son. Upon reaching their destination on Monroe Street, the Plaintiffs got out of the car and saw a police car with its lights flashing approaching from the corner of the street they were on, ultimately stopping behind Judy's car. When John walked to the trunk of the car, Insogna ordered him and Judy to get back in the car. John initially refused, telling Insogna that he had not been driving the car. Insogna again told John to get back in the car, stating that this was a traffic stop. Judy then urged John to reenter the car, and they both did so.
Insogna then asked to see Judy's license and registration. John then told her not to show the officer anything, prompting Insogna to say,“Shut your mouth, your ass is in enough trouble.” Insogna then collected Judy's license and registration, returned to his police car to check the documents, and called for backup. Three other officers soon appeared.
Insogna returned to Judy's car, gave her back the documents, and told the Plaintiffs they could go. John then got out of the car and asked if he could speak to Insogna, saying “I'd like to speak to you man to man.” As he started walking toward Insogna, who was more than 20 feet away, three other officers stepped in front of him. John stopped, walked away from the officers, and said to himself in a voice apparently too low for his words to be understood,“I feel like an ass.” One of the other officers asked John what he had said, and John repeated his remark loud enough to be heard. At that point Defendant Collins said,“That does it, you're under arrest,” but did not say for what.
John was then handcuffed, placed in a police car, and driven to the police station, where he was given an appearance ticket and released. At the station, he was told he had been arrested for disorderly conduct. Insogna subsequently swore out a complaint, which he filed in the local criminal court, charging Swartz with violation of New York's disorderly conduct statute. Under New York law, such a complaint “[s]erves as a basis ․ for the commencement of a criminal action.” N.Y.Crim. Proc. Law § 100.10(1). After he returned home, John retained an attorney. The charge remained pending for several years, during which John made three court appearances. The charge was ultimately dismissed on speedy trial grounds.
cops story

Clifton Park, NY

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#6
Jan 18, 2013
 

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The officers gave a different account. In his deposition, Insogna said that after he saw John give him the finger, he decided to follow the car “to initiate a stop on it.” As reasons he stated:(1) John's gesture “appeared to me he was trying to get my attention for some reason,”(2)“I thought that maybe there could be a problem in the car. I just wanted to assure the safety of the passengers,” and (3)“I was concerned for the female driver, if there was a domestic dispute.”
Insogna said he followed the car and attempted to have it stop, but it continued to Monroe Street and did not stop until he drove up behind it. At that point John got out of the car, ran at Insogna, and called him various vulgar names. After John and Judy got back into their car, Insogna obtained and checked Judy's license and registration, and then called for backup “for my safety.” Other officers arrived. One of them, Officer Cuddy, approached John in the car and identified himself after John asked who he was. John started yelling and described Insogna to Cuddy with some of the vulgar terms he had previously used. After Insogna told John and Judy they were free to go, John got out of the car and told Insogna he wanted to talk to him “man to man.” Insogna told him that would not be a good idea, at which point John walked away shouting that he, John,“felt like an asshole.” At that point, Insogna arrested John.
Collins in his deposition essentially confirmed Insogna's account of the episode preceding the arrest.
johns story

Clifton Park, NY

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#7
Jan 18, 2013
 

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In his deposition John gave the following account of the incident. In May 2006, he and Judy were driving through the Village of St. Johnsville on their way to the home of Judy's son. Judy was driving; John was in the passenger seat. At an intersection, John saw a local police officer, Defendant Insogna, in a police car using a radar device, of which John became aware because he had a radar detector. John expressed his displeasure at what the officer was doing by reaching his right arm outside the passenger side window and extending his middle finger over the car's roof. The Plaintiffs, who were not speeding or committing any other traffic violation, continued to the home of Judy's son. Upon reaching their destination on Monroe Street, the Plaintiffs got out of the car and saw a police car with its lights flashing approaching from the corner of the street they were on, ultimately stopping behind Judy's car. When John walked to the trunk of the car, Insogna ordered him and Judy to get back in the car. John initially refused, telling Insogna that he had not been driving the car. Insogna again told John to get back in the car, stating that this was a traffic stop. Judy then urged John to reenter the car, and they both did so.

Insogna then asked to see Judy's license and registration. John then told her not to show the officer anything, prompting Insogna to say,“Shut your mouth, your ass is in enough trouble.” Insogna then collected Judy's license and registration, returned to his police car to check the documents, and called for backup. Three other officers soon appeared.

Insogna returned to Judy's car, gave her back the documents, and told the Plaintiffs they could go. John then got out of the car and asked if he could speak to Insogna, saying “I'd like to speak to you man to man.” As he started walking toward Insogna, who was more than 20 feet away, three other officers stepped in front of him. John stopped, walked away from the officers, and said to himself in a voice apparently too low for his words to be understood,“I feel like an ass.” One of the other officers asked John what he had said, and John repeated his remark loud enough to be heard. At that point Defendant Collins said,“That does it, you're under arrest,” but did not say for what.
Curious

Saint Johnsville, NY

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#8
Jan 18, 2013
 

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If you know John Swartz it's highly doubtful that he said HE felt like an ass. Why would any mature adult give a police officer the finger? It seems he was confrontational right from the start. What kind of treatment do you expect acting like that?!

Since: Dec 12

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#9
Jan 18, 2013
 

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Curious wrote:
If you know John Swartz it's highly doubtful that he said HE felt like an ass. Why would any mature adult give a police officer the finger? It seems he was confrontational right from the start. What kind of treatment do you expect acting like that?!
I would give a cop the finger.
Crap man

Canajoharie, NY

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#10
Jan 18, 2013
 

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Most of police account are lies, there was no reason for back up from FT Plain and County for this . They both came speeding over unsafe situations for other people on highway. A good cop could have defused a finger incident with less than this fiasco, I care less about Swartz, however, if these loser cops can't handle small incedients like this , why are they working in one horse towns.? I watched this shit, Swartz is right.
HBOMB

Fort Plain, NY

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#11
Jan 18, 2013
 

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Sounds winey to me. Show some respect for the people who protect the public.
WTF

Hadley, NY

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#12
Jan 18, 2013
 
You have to get back in the car as a passenger on a traffic stop because as a passenger, you create just as much risk to the officer as the driver.

Here's some case law for that: Arizona V. Johnson US: 129 S. Ct. 781 (2009) AND Michigan V. Long 463 U.S. 1032, 1047 (1983)

A passenger in a vehicle is seized within the meaning of the Forth Amendment, just as the driver is seized, at the initiation of the stop until it is over, and the passenger is not free to end the encounter or move about as he wishes.

On the other hand...

Case law: Duran V. City of Douglas, Arizona #89-15236, 904 F. 2d 1372 (9th Cir. 1990)

Profanities and obscene gestures directed at a police officer by a car passenger were speech and conduct protected by the First Amendment.

Protected speech motivated the arrest, which could hold the officer liable under the 1983 provision.
bernie

Bolton, Canada

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#13
Jan 18, 2013
 

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What about the Swartz credibility? Wasn't he fired by our greater President?
Curious

Fort Plain, NY

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#14
Jan 18, 2013
 
He still acts like a pompous jerk!
Really now

Fort Plain, NY

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#15
Jan 18, 2013
 
His credibility isn't in question. The officer is entrusted to uphold the law and act according to the law. The problem is that our local law enforcement isn't up on the current laws. They operate by the principle - "you got to give him a ticket for something...." Once it is done, the citizen then holds the financial obligation to prove their innocence!!! Wrong it is and it happens one to many times.
Good for John for seeing Justice through. I hope he gets money to cover his legal expenses - Plus!!!! The officers then might be obliged to actually learn the law in this little soap opera town!
bubba

Rensselaerville, NY

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#16
Jan 18, 2013
 

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I went to school with Swartz, he's a idiot I believe the police , John was I idiot in school and he's probably still a idiot, they're allot more things going on in today's world,let it go John.
st johnsville citizen

Fort Plain, NY

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#18
Jan 18, 2013
 

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knowing swartz's personality i can see him giving police a hard time and mouthing off to them. i side with the police on this one. it just goes to show arguing with police mouthing off and giving them a hard time gets you no where.
Really now

Fort Plain, NY

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#19
Jan 19, 2013
 

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LOL
Hey Bubba and St. J citizen----
Didn't you read the paper??? Swatrz won THE COP WAS WRONG -Just because you don't like him doesn't mean that he doesn't deserve justice.
You are members - rank and file of St. J-----
Fulton County Resident

Constableville, NY

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#23
Apr 19, 2013
 

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Latest and final court ruling is that this ridiculous lawsuit was thrown out by a jury. Right or wrong, and I don't know either party, it shows a real lack of common sense to give a Police Officer the finger. The arrogance and waste of taxpayer money and time associatred with filing a suit further speaks to the plaintiff's character. After actual testimony was heard,this was thrown out by a jury in a matter of two hours.Swartz now looks like a fool and a liar.

“We R Watching U”

Since: Dec 11

Albany, NY

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#24
Apr 20, 2013
 

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John is a dumbass,wth did he think would happen when he flipped the bird to a cop? Stupidity should be painful.
Local girl

Canajoharie, NY

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#25
Apr 20, 2013
 

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Jonh tried to get his step kids to lie on the stand and back him up by promising them a new car if they won.
Yeah John is a real upstanding citizen!!!!

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