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Stahl v. State

665 P.2d 839 (1983)

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Stahl v. State

Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals

665 P.2d 839 (1983)

Facts

The Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) owned Black Fox Station (Black Fox), a large tract of land, and agreed to use the land as a site for developing nuclear-power facilities. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a government agency, issued authorization for development to begin and oversaw the site. Black Fox implemented visitor-access policies for the public and the press. Visitors were only permitted to enter through gates to access a designated viewing area. To access other parts of the site, visitors had to obtain permission and were given an escort. The restrictions were implemented to protect visitors from injury as well as to protect the site and equipment from vandalism. A group who opposed building nuclear facilities at Black Fox planned an occupation protest. The PSO posted signs and played loudspeaker messages warning that anyone who entered the property improperly would be arrested. Nine members of media organizations (the protest reporters) (defendants) crossed the fence and entered the property with the protesters and were arrested. The protest reporters were convicted at trial of trespass under Oklahoma state law (the trespass statute), which prohibited willfully entering a property after being expressly forbidden from doing so. The trespass statute did not require any damage to the property. The protest reporters appealed, arguing that their conduct did not violate the trespass statute because they entered Black Fox intending only to gather news, not violate laws or cause harm, and because they did not cause actual damage to any Black Fox property. The protest reporters also argued that the prosecution unconstitutionally interfered with their right to gather news under the First Amendment.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cornish, J.)

Dissent (Brent, J.)

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