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COA finds portion of public intoxication statute unconstitutionally vague

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has found that the portion of the public intoxication statute enacted in 2012 that uses the term “annoys” is void for vagueness. As such, it reversed a man’s conviction for public intoxication that was based on annoying behavior.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officer Brycen Garner arrested Rodregus Morgan after believing him to be intoxicated. Garner found Morgan’s brother yelling at Morgan at a bus stop after Morgan would not wake up. Garner woke Morgan up to have him leave the shelter and saw his eyes were blood shot and glassy, and he was unsteady.

While Garner completed paperwork, Morgan yelled and continued to be agitated. The state charged him with Class D felony intimidation and Class B misdemeanors public intoxication and disorderly conduct.

The officer identified Morgan’s behavior as “annoying” when he placed him under arrest.

Morgan was convicted of the misdemeanor charges.

On appeal in Rodregus Morgan v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1304-CR-386, he argued that I.C. 7.1-5-1-3, which states that it is a Class B misdemeanor if an individual is intoxicated while in a public place and harasses, annoys or alarms another person, is unconstitutionally vague. The statute doesn’t define “annoys” and there is no objective standard for evaluating what “annoys” constitutes, Morgan claimed.

“ … we find the challenged portion of Indiana’s public intoxication statute to be unconstitutionally vague. Namely, the statute neither requires that a defendant have specifically intended to annoy another, nor does it employ an objective standard to assess whether a defendant’s conduct would be annoying to a reasonable person,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote. “Furthermore, the statute does not mandate that the defendant have been first warned that his behavior was considered annoying conduct. Instead, this section of the statute enables arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement because the illegality of any conduct — no matter how trivial or how substantial — is based solely on the subjective feelings of a particular person at any given time.”

The judges emphasized they are only holding the term “annoying” void for vagueness and removing that from the section does not inhibit the statute’s execution, so the remainder of the section stands.

They also affirmed his conviction for disorderly conduct based on sufficient evidence.
 

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  1. A sad end to a prolific gadfly. Indiana has suffered a great loss in the journalistic realm.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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