Law School Case Brief
Commonwealth v. Jones - 880 S.W.2d 544 (Ky. 1994)
The disorderly conduct statute, Ken. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 525.060 (1984), provides as follows: (1) A person is guilty of disorderly conduct when in a public place and with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or wantonly creating a risk thereof, he: (a) Engages in fighting or in violent, tumultuous, or threatening behavior; or (b) Makes unreasonable noise; or (c) Refuses to obey an official order to disperse issued to maintain public safety in dangerous proximity to a fire, hazard, or other emergency; or (d) Creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act that serves no legitimate purpose. (2) Disorderly conduct is a Class B misdemeanor.
Jones was in attendance at the 1991 Pegasus Parade. It was Derby Week in Louisville, Kentucky, and General Schwartzkopf was performing as the Grand Marshal of the event. City Police Officer Phillips received a complaint from a mother, who was accompanied by four infant children, regarding Jones shouting obscenities at the military components of the parade. The officer investigated and then told Jones that such language was impermissible and to move out of the red-lined "safety zone" designated around the judges' stand located at the Floyd/Broadway intersection. Jones refused to move from the zone and called the officer a "Nazi pig ***." Jones was charged with disorderly conduct and placed under arrest. During trial the district court jury was instructed that it would find the defendant guilty ". . . only if, you believe from the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that . . . she, [Jones] with the intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or wantonly created a risk thereof, did (a) Make an unreasonable noise or (b) Created a hazardous or physically offensive condition by an act that served no legitimate purpose." The language of the instruction followed Ken. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 525.060(1)(b) and (d). The verdict of guilty, however, did not specify under which subsection Jones’ conduct fell. The commonwealth appealed a judgment from the Court of Appeals (Kentucky), which reversed Jones’ disorderly conduct conviction under Ken. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 525.060 (1984). The Commonwealth claimed that the content of Jones’ speech was not in issue, and that substantial evidence supported the jury's verdict.
Was there substantial evidence from which the jury could find that Jones’ conduct violated Ken. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 525.060 (1984)?
In reversing the judgment that overturned Jones’ disorderly conduct conviction, the court held that there was substantial evidence from which the jury could find that Jones’ conduct violated Ken. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 525.060(1)(b)and (d). The court noted that it was not the content of the speech that was criminalized, but the fact that Jones had been unreasonably loud and had created a physically offensive condition without legitimate purpose.
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