Pa. Superior Court reverses conviction for man giving ex the middle finger
The Superior Court of Pennsylvania on Monday overturned a Pittsburgh man’s disorderly conduct conviction for giving his ex-wife the middle finger during a 2014 custody exchange.
Jason Roy Waugaman, 35, of Troy Hill, had been charged in November 2014 because his ex-wife said they had a confrontation when he dropped their children off at her apartment. She stood in front of his truck and he accelerated toward her, swerving with about a “yardstick” worth of space between them and giving her the finger as he squealed out of the parking lot.
In September 2015, Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Anthony Mariani found Waugaman not guilty of reckless endangerment but guilty of disorderly conduct for the gesture, and sentenced him to 90 days of probation.
Waugaman appealed the ruling to the Superior Court, which reversed the conviction on Monday because other cases have held that giving someone the middle finger is not “obscene” or sexually prurient under the courts’ interpretation of state law.
“Unless the First Amendment was repealed when I was not looking, giving someone the finger should not constitute a crime,” wrote Senior Justice Eugene B. Strassburger in a short concurring opinion.
District Attorney’s Office spokesman Mike Manko declined to comment and Mariani was not available.
Matthew Santoni is a Tribune-Review staff writer.