Saturday, December 7, 2013

Hess v. Indiana case brief

Hess v. Indiana case brief summary
414 U.S. 105 (1973)

Appellant was convicted of violating the Indiana disorderly conduct statute. The Supreme Court of Indiana affirmed appellant's conviction. Appellant challenged the judgment that affirmed his conviction.

Appellant was arrested and convicted of disorderly conduct based on a statement he made during an antiwar protest at a state university. Appellant argued that his conviction should be reversed because the statute was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad because it forbade activity that was protected under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and because the statute abridged his constitutionally protected freedom of speech.

  • On appeal, the court held that there was no evidence or rational inference that the defendant's words were intended and likely to produce imminent disorder. 
  • Therefore, defendant could not be punished for his statement on that basis. In so holding, the court determined that 
  • (1) the disorderly conduct statute had been applied to punish only spoken words; 
  • (2) the uncontroverted evidence showed that defendant's statement was not directed to any person or group of persons and it could not be said that he was advocating, in the normal sense, any action; and 
  • (3) the statement did not fall within any of the limited classes of constitutionally unprotected speech.
The judgment was reversed and the motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted.

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