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Court Baltimore can’t stop settlement winners from speaking

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RICHMOND, Va. — An appeals court has ruled that Baltimore’s practice of reducing financial settlements to alleged victims of police misconduct when they speak out about their experience is unconstitutional.

The 2-1 ruling Thursday from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond reverses an earlier ruling against Ashley Overbey. She negotiated a $63,000 settlement with the city after suing three police officers whom she said beat and shot her with a stun gun after she reported a burglary in her home.

But she only got half the money because the city said she violated a non-disparagement clause in her settlement by responding to online comments in an article about her case.

The ACLU of Maryland sued on her behalf.

The judges said the non-disparagement clause violated Overbey’s First Amendment rights.

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