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State v. Anonymous

Appellate Division of the Superior Court of Connecticut
389 A.2d 1270 (1978)


Facts

The defendant was following the complainant in her car. When the complainant pulled into a parking lot and exited her car, the defendant drove up close to the her and yelled from the car window that the complainant was a tramp, her mother had gone to bed with the defendant’s husband, and the defendant was “going to get” the complainant. That night, the defendant called the complainant at her job and repeated the same insults. The defendant was charged with, and convicted of, violations of General Statutes § 53a-182(a)(2), which prohibits disorderly conduct, and General Statutes § 53a-183(a)(3), which prohibits harassment. Section 53a-182(a)(2) provides that a person is guilty of disorderly conduct when he intentionally or recklessly interferes with another person by offensive conduct, intending to cause “inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm.” In the jury instructions, the judge provided definitions of “intentionally” and “recklessly,” and stated that the test of the statute was what people of ordinary intelligence would understand to cause annoyance or interference with another person. Section 53a-183(a)(3) provides that a person is guilty of harassment if he makes a telephone call in a manner “likely to cause annoyance or alarm,” intending to harass or annoy the listener. The jury instructions provided definitions of “harass,” “annoy,” and “alarm.” The defendant moved to set aside the verdict. The court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed, claiming that her convictions violated her First Amendment right of free speech, because the statutes were overbroad, and the trial court failed to instruct jurors that they could not convict unless they found she had used “fighting words,” defined in Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 (1942), as words that by their very expression inflict injury or potentially cause an immediate, violent response.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Shea, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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