Court: Profanity-laced tirade was protected free speech

Connecticut Supreme Court Building (Image: jud.state.ct.us)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled that a woman’s profanity-laced tirade against a grocery store manager was protected free speech.

The court on Friday ordered that Nina Baccala, of Vernon, be acquitted of a misdemeanor breach of peace charge. Four justices voted in favor of acquittal and three voted for a new trial.

Related: Grocery store customer: Insults were not ‘fighting words’

Vernon police said Baccala became angry at an assistant manager at a Stop & Shop in 2013, after being told it was too late to process a Western Union money transfer. She called the manager various expletives.

Baccala was convicted by a jury in 2014 and sentenced to 25 days in jail.

The Supreme Court ruled that Baccala’s profanity and name-calling did not fall within the “fighting words” exemption to constitutional free speech rights.

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