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NC Court May Revisit Opinion Regarding Traffic Stop After Passenger Gives Middle Finger

A North Carolina appeals court could revisit a ruling earlier this month that a state trooper acted lawfully when he chased and stopped a vehicle after its passenger flashed an obscene hand gesture.

The ruling by a divided Court of Appeals panel was missing from the court's web site Friday. An order this week by Chief Judge Linda McGee withdrew the ruling, but gave no explanation why.

Judge Chris Dillon' wrote for the court that while Shawn Patrick Ellis's middle-finger wave at the trooper was protected free speech, the trooper had reason to believe that the crime of disorderly conduct was being committed. Dillon wrote that it's illegal to make gestures plainly intended to provoke violent retaliation and cause a breach of the peace.