During rush hour on the evening of September 21, 2015, Heather Baker was driving home from work when a Johnson County Deputy Sheriff stopped and ticketed her for flashing her headlights to warn on-coming drivers of the speed trap located at the bottom of the hill. On November 24, 2015, the ACLU-KS’s Legal Director sent a demand letter to the city prosecutor asking that the case be dismissed because Ms. Baker’s conduct was speech protected by the First Amendment. Because the prosecutor never responded to that letter, cooperating attorney Alex Edelman represented Ms. Baker at her trial in DeSoto Municipal Court on December 14, 2015, at which time the prosecutor dismissed the case “without prejudice,” meaning that the City could refile the charge against Ms. Baker. At that point, ACLU-KS lawyers drafted a complaint to institute a First Amendment lawsuit in federal court. On January 15, 2016, the ACLU-KS emailed the draft complaint to the city attorney and the attorney for the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department. In March 2016, in order to resolve this issue and avoid a lawsuit, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department agreed to stop ticketing drivers for flashing headlights to warn other drivers of speed traps.
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