Putting the brakes on disorderly conduct prosecutions

Aug 21, 2008 Putting the brakes on disorderly conduct prosecutions

Bill of Rights. (From the public domain.) 

Too often, police arrest for disorderly conduct when they cannot think of any other crimes to charge. That is beyond unjust.

Fortunately, the Oregon Supreme Court recently put some strong limits on disorderly conduct prosecutions where a suspect allegedly tailgated another car, and called out some choice words to passersby, all over around a five-minute period. Oregon v. William Johnson, ___ P.3d ___ (Oregon August 14, 2008). Oregon’s Supreme Court relied on Oregon’s version of the First Amendment in reaching its decision, so it is not clear about the extent to which a similar victory can be achieved in other states.  Jon Katz

ADDENDUM: Thanks to the person who sent me this Oregon v. William Johnson case.

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