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City appealing $3,000 award in obscene gesture arrest

MOBILE (AP) — The city of Mobile is appealing a judge's decision to award $3,000 to a motorist who was arrested for making an obscene hand gesture to a police officer.

City attorney Ashton Hill said Wednesday the city is seeking to have Addison DeBoi's civil suit heard in circuit court.

On July 31, District Court Judge Michael McMaken ruled in favor of DeBoi in his wrongful arrest suit and ordered the Police Department to pay $3,000.

DeBoi, 56, of Mobile was arrested by Officer Bristol Hines on Sept. 2, 2005, on a charge of disorderly conduct after he made a hand gesture while the two men were in their vehicles. He was acquitted last year and sued the city for $10,000 in damages, citing time lost from work, the threat of losing his engineering job, which requires a government security clearance, and the embarrassment of being put in jail.

In awarding him $3,000, the judge said police officers must have "thicker skin" than the general public.

The decision attracted national attention, with Fox News Channel talk show host Bill O'Reilly calling McMaken "a pinhead judge" during a show Aug. 7.

Hill, the city attorney, said that while he may disagree with the judge's decision, "Judge McMaken is not a pinhead."

DeBoi said he wished the officer would have accepted his apology rather than pursuing prosecution, and money was not an issue in filing the suit.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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