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Friday, August 26, 2016

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 1 opinion(s) today (and 4 NFP memorandum decision(s))

For publication opinions today (1):

In Dorothy Williams v. State of Indiana , a 14-page opinion, Judge Najam writes:

Dorothy Williams appeals from her conviction for disorderly conduct, as a Class B misdemeanor, following a jury trial. She asserts on appeal that there is insufficient evidence to support her conviction because her conviction was based on political speech, which Williams raised as an affirmative defense under article 1, section 9 of the Indiana Constitution. Where, as here, the defendant is not the original subject of a police investigation, the defendant demonstrates that her expression was unambiguous political speech when she shows that the focus of her speech exclusively concerned government action. Such speech must both be directed at state actors and refer to state actors or their conduct. Speech directed toward a private party or that refers to a private party, or the conduct of a private party, is politically ambiguous for purposes of an affirmative defense under art. 1, sec. 9. And when the focus of speech is politically ambiguous, a reasonable fact-finder may reject the asserted affirmative defense.

If the defendant does not meet her burden of showing that her speech was unambiguously political, the State’s impairment of her speech—e.g., the defendant’s arrest for disorderly conduct—is constitutional so long as the State acted rationally in impairing the speech. However, if the defendant meets her burden of showing unambiguous political speech, the burden shifts to the State to demonstrate that the defendant’s exercise of her speech was an abuse of her right to that expression. While the words used by the defendant do not matter to this analysis, the State can meet this heightened burden in either of the following circumstances: (1) the defendant’s volume had more than a fleeting interference with a private interest, or (2) the defendant interfered with an ongoing police investigation.

Here, during her encounter with police at her home, Williams directed some of her speech toward her neighbors, and she repeatedly referred to herself and her own conduct during the encounter. Accordingly, the focus of her speech was politically ambiguous for purposes of the art. 1, sec. 9 affirmative defense, and the fact-finder was free to reject Williams’ affirmative defense. As her speech was politically ambiguous, the State’s impairment of her speech was constitutional so long as it was rational. And it was here: the State presented evidence that some of her neighbors, while in their homes, were actually alerted to Williams’ encounter with police by the volume of her speech, and the State further showed that numerous officers diverted their attention away from the task at hand because of Williams’ speech. Accordingly, we affirm Williams’ conviction for disorderly conduct, as a Class B misdemeanor.

NFP civil decisions today (2):

In re the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of: E.M., Minor Child, T.R. v. Indiana Department of Child Services (mem. dec.)

In the Matter of the Involuntary Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of C.F. and A.F. (Minor Children), and C.H. (Mother) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services (mem. dec.)

NFP criminal decisions today (2):

D.T. v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Micah Ormsby v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 26, 2016 01:12 PM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions