BERRIEN COUNTY. Mich. — A woman is free on bond after spending 11 days in jail.
Her alleged crime: cursing.
Hours after a circuit court judge ordered the bond for a woman jailed for swearing reduced to the $500 she already paid, LaRue Ford walked out of the Berrien County Jail.
The ACLU filed an emergency appeal to get Ford released from the jail, where she's been since Dec. 18 for cursing in the court clerk's office.
She said her first thoughts when she walked out shortly before 4 p.m. were, "I'm free. You know, free." She added, "I guess right now I'm just speechless, I'm tired. I've just been through so much."
The ACLU maintains Ford's 1st Amendment rights were violated and they allege District Court Judge Dennis Wiley abused his authority in jailing Ford and revoking her bond.
She admits cursing, but said it was to herself as she left the clerk's office frustrated after getting the runaround while trying to clear up an old traffic ticket. When she returned with $50 to finally clear it up, Judge Dennis Wiley ordered her arrested.
But it was the last day on the bench for Judge Butzbaugh, who is retiring. Her case will be heard at a later date by a different circuit court judge.
Ford, who holds a master's degree in social work, is 49 and has no criminal record.