An Iowa Man Wins His Free Speech Suit After Being Charged for a Facebook Rant Against a Cop

Jon Goldsmith was charged with third-degree harassment after calling Deputy Cory Dorsey a "stupid sum bitch" online.


Jon Goldsmith of Red Oak, Iowa, was charged with third-degree harassment after calling Adams County Sheriff's Deputy Cory Dorsey, among other things, a "stupid sum bitch" on Facebook. Nearly a year after the incident, Goldsmith has won his free speech lawsuit against the sheriff's office.

As Reason previously reported:

According to the lawsuit, Jon Goldsmith of Red Oak witnessed Adams County Sheriff's Deputy Cory Dorsey stop a motorist and conduct a drug dog search on a vehicle at a festival in July 2018. No drugs were found. Goldsmith also said he saw Dorsey body-slam another man. When Goldsmith later saw the man's mugshot on Facebook, he shared the picture in a post criticizing Dorsey.

Goldsmith called Dorsey out by name and accused him of being "butthurt" that the drug search was fruitless. He also called him a "stupid sum bitch" and offered to hire Dorsey to walk his dog and "pick up his shit" if he were fired over the incident.

A few weeks later, Goldsmith was accused of writing "a threatening and vulgar statement about Cory Dorsey on Facebook" by an affidavit. Sergeant Paul Hogan, Dorsey's supervisor, had filed charges of third-degree harassment against Goldsmith on behalf of his subordinate.

The charges were short-lived after Goldsmith's attorney managed to get them dropped for violating the First Amendment. A year later, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit on his behalf against the county, Dorsey, and Hogan, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa.

Goldsmith won his case, according to a Monday press release.

The Adams County Sheriff's office will pay Goldsmith $10,000 in damages, which includes the cost of the lawyer he hired to defend himself in court. A judge also ordered the deputies to stop charging civilians for criticizing its law enforcement, as they've done at least two other times.

Officers will be receiving ACLU-approved training on free speech and implementing an ACLU-approved social media policy.

"As the Court's injunction today confirms, people have a constitutional free speech right to criticize their government. Police are not allowed to charge people with crimes because they annoy the police or say things the police disagree with—on social media like Facebook, or otherwise. There is no exception because someone expresses anger in inartful ways, causes offense, or uses curse words," said Rita Bettis Austen, the ACLU of Iowa's legal director.

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53 responses to “An Iowa Man Wins His Free Speech Suit After Being Charged for a Facebook Rant Against a Cop

  1. I like his orange shirt. Thank you sir for defending yourself and us all.

    1. Fortunately, the ACLU has limited itself in recent years to litigating “easy” cases of the sort, but even so, rather than dropping the charges, the state should have been a bit more creative and looked for additional criminal statutes that could have been used to apply just a little bit of pressure to this man and help put an end to his inappropriate “speech.” If a similar situation arises in the future, I would recommend seeking our assistance here at NYU, as we are quite experienced with such matters and can give a good deal of advice on how to get around the “first amendment” that everyone keeps touting as if it were some kind of a rule that can never be avoided. Really, do reach out to us if there’s ever a problem with some form of “expression” that nobody likes. For a good example of how we’ve handled such delicate little matters in the past, see the documentation of our nation’s leading criminal “satire” case, in which we are glad to have played a role, at:


  2. Seems like there should be more of a direct consequence to arresting a person for an act that isn’t criminal.

    1. You’re not from around here, are you?

      1. (Apparently he’s not–he thinks the act “isn’t criminal.”)

    2. You’d think so…but the government has never been effective at policing itself. Weird how that works.

    3. But they have a new policy in place. Problem solved.

    4. If “ignorance of the law is no excuse”, then they should absolutely be charged with false imprisonment at the very least. How is arresting someone for something that is not criminal any different from me locking someone in my basement for no reason?
      But it seems that it doesn’t apply to police.

    5. It should be punished by summary execution. It is “punished” by the department covering expenses.

    6. Look, they slapped the taxpayers on the wrist. What more do you want??

    7. Really, you think? Next you’ll be asking why the LEOs aren’t punished for bringing self-serving unConstitutional charges that would increase their policing powers, as if …

    8. What? Don’t you think having to spend a couple of hours in a conference room with a bunch of other cops, having to listen to some ACLU commie blather on about free speech rights is punishment enough?

      Can cops bring these charges all by themselves, or do prosecutors have to sign off on them? Any lawyer that signs such charges should be disbarred as either incompetent, or willingly breaking fundamental laws.

  3. Respect. Dah. Authoritah!

  4. rock on dude. well played.

  5. A judge also ordered the deputies to stop charging civilians for criticizing its law enforcement, as they’ve done at least two other times.


    1. After all, arresting someone IS an art form as much as exotic dancing. Lying on the reports and as a witness IS pure speech.

      1. I like to think of what cops do as a kind of performance art. They’re the 2LiveCrew of public servants.

        1. Nice. I might have to borrow that.

    2. How is using the law to suppress and exploit “free speech”? It’s free authoritarianism, granted by all who vote to their rulers.

      When will the self-enslaved get it? When they vote they forfeit their sovereignty to politicians, bureaucrats, LEOs. It’s like saying: “Permission to be forced, exploited, and lied to, Master, but remember to protect me and limit your power to whatever you think is reasonable.

      1. Look up “sarcasm” and “satire” in the dictionary.

  6. The Adams County Sheriff’s office will pay Goldsmith $10,000 in damages

    Time to seize someone’s assets.

    1. “seized asset” was my nickname for my former wife.

  7. Someone please ask Elizabeth Warren if people should be allowed to use the world “bitch” on Facebook. If she says “no”, the follow-up question writes itself, “What exactly would you do as president to stop it?”

  8. Did Dorsey lose his job? Did Goldsmith follow through on his promise to hire Dorsey to scoop dog poop?

  9. Adam County has about 4,000 residents. Do you think this is the first or last interaction between Goldsmith and Dorsey?

    1. Yeah, but now Dorsey can’t fuck too badly with Goldsmith as it is easy to pin a retaliation charge on the cop.

  10. Is Reason moderating comments now?

    1. Doesnt’ seem to be.

      1. Submitted a comment and it appeared with:

        “You comment is awaiting moderation” above it.

        It contains two Youtube links re Moultrie, GA cops arresting Jeff Gray for exercising his First Amendment right to protest on July 3rd.

        1. Must be links. I can’t remember if I’ve posted any links with the new system yet.

        2. I believe it’s the multiple links in one post.

        3. Yes, multiple links in a post throws you into moderation hell.

    2. Do you see any moderation? I sure as hell don’t see any moderation.

      1. Tried again, same deal.
        I think the Youtube links are causing the problem.

      2. i was going to post like 1000 comments but decided to only post 10

  11. I wonder why cops are so fat, but more than that, I wonder why they’re so fat in such a particular way. Their necks and heads are fat. They are so fucking fat. Is it donuts?

    1. They probably once were muscular and it’s all turned to flab since they started spending 8 hours a day sitting in a car eating donuts.

    2. Their necks and heads are fat.

      They’re meatheads.

    3. It used to be a Marine thing and people called them “Jarheads”. I know some cops and a lot are that way. I know someone who hasn’t been a cop in about ten years. He’s that way, so it can’t be the donuts. It’s weird.

  12. Wanna see how the Moultrie, GA City Manager and Moultrie cops react to a citizen exercising his First Amendment rights.

    Go to Youtube and search on “honorYourOath”, it’s Jeff Gray’s latest two videos.
    Lawsuit to follow and hopefully qualified immunity revoked.

    1. It’s piss-ants like that, who try to claim that one’s freedom of speech includes using a profane expression – that makes no real sense – that detract from real efforts to protect peaceable petitioning to the government for a redress of grievances, which is what the First Amendment was intending.
      Not being able to act like a child and use language that one wouldn’t use with one’s mother.
      P.S. you had to get to the end to see that what his idea of free speech was, was holding a sign that said “fuck city hall”.
      This little twerp needs to grow up.

  13. I assume Goldsmith didn’t have a dog for them to shoot.

  14. Yes, Mr. Goldsmith has a right to free speech by calling Cory Dorsey a name.
    Just like Corey Dorsey has a right to sue Mr. Goldsmith for libel (and/or slander).
    Funny how that works.
    Being held accountable for your actions can be a bitch.

    1. Dorsey has a right to try to sue for libel or slander, but as a public official he will surely fail to win such a case.

      1. Getting a job with the government doesn’t make one a “public figure”.

    2. Do you know how libel & slander cases work?

  15. Twitter have locked out John Lott Jr. over one of his tweets.

  16. “As the Court’s injunction today confirms, people have a constitutional free speech right to criticize their government.”

    Unless you insult Frederica Wilson, the rodeo clown who moonlights as a congresswoman.

  17. Someone sees police overreach, brutality, and reports it on facebook. He gets arrested, then gets off.
    What about the US police state? What about the “Dorseys” who are out there everyday, thriving, and retiring with benefits? Why isn’t that the top story?
    Of course not. That would be too deep, too probing for the masses to take. Let’s keep it simple, concrete, so nothing really changes.

  18. Iowa man gets to rant about police injustice, but police continue to give us something to rant about. They just can’t stop our complaining about it. Why? That’s what makes us free.

    If Dorsey had confronted Goldsmith with “Are you the one who made me look like an asshole?” Dorsey, taking a cue from Picasso, could have said: “No, you did!”

    Why aren’t more people reporting the police state?

  19. Sounds as if some law enforcement types need a hell of a lot more than remedial lessonsin the rights of the citizenry.

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