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Woman’s comments to police considered political speech, COA rules

June 25, 2015

The Indiana Court of Appeals overturned a woman’s misdemeanor disorderly conduct conviction, which was based on her comments to police that she was pulled over because she was black, finding the comments were political in nature.

Lakisha Jordan was convicted of Class B misdemeanor disorderly conduct and Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement after police pulled over the car she was driving in because the license plate did not match the vehicle registration.

According to the record, Jordan was belligerent toward Officer Christopher Nieves and yelled at him after he asked if she had any weapons in the car. She questioned if she was being pulled over because she was black. Another officer responded to the scene and the car was towed. Jordan refused to leave the scene, and after continuing to yell at the officers, Nieves decided to arrest her. She turned and began to run. A scuffle ensued, and Nieves handcuffed her.

In Lakisha Jordan v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1410-CR-467, the Court of Appeals determined that Jordan’s overall complaint and statements to police were critical of them, and thus her speech was political. They noted that the state didn’t prove that the statements and Jordan’s shouting – which caused people in the area to pay attention to the situation – rose to the level of anything beyond fleeting annoyance. As such, the judges reversed her disorderly conduct conviction.

But there was enough evidence to support the resisting law enforcement conviction, the judges held. They remanded for acquittal on the disorderly conduct charge.

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