Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Maryland Supreme Corporation v. The Blake Company case brief

Maryland Supreme Corporation v. The Blake Company case brief summary
279 A.2d 1017 (Md. 1977)

Defendant appealed from a judgment of the Superior Court (Rhode Island), which found him guilty and fined him for violating Providence, R.I., Ordinances ch. 30 §§ 10, 11 (1914). The ordinance prohibited, among other things, standing on a sidewalk and disturbing or annoying passers-by or persons residing or doing business in the vicinity thereof.

Two police officers responded to a complaint that a group of youths were congregating near a bus terminal. When they arrived, the officers saw 20 to 25 persons, including defendant, standing and talking in various groups. Some were on the sidewalk and they were interfering with and obstructing the free passage of pedestrians. The officers ordered them to disperse and warned them that they would be charged with "loitering and loafing" unless they dispersed. The officers left the scene. The officers returned. Defendant remained there talking to a companion. The officers arrested defendant and his companion.

  • The superior court found that the ordinance was constitutional
  • The court held that: 
  • (1) the complaint charged defendant in a single count with obstructing the free passage for foot passengers and with disturbing and annoying passers-by and persons residing in the vicinity; 
  • (2) part of the ordinance was vague because it did not specify the type of conduct that would result in an arrest; the statute was vague; 
  • (3) the trial justice did not state whether he found defendant guilty of "obstructing" or of "annoying and disturbing," therefore, defendant was entitled to a new trial.
The court reversed defendant's conviction and remanded the case for a new trial.

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