240 N.E.2d 595 (Ill. 1968), 40596, People v. Raby

Docket Nº:40596.
Citation:240 N.E.2d 595, 40 Ill.2d 392
Party Name:The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee, v. Albert A. RABY, Appellant.
Case Date:September 24, 1968
Court:Supreme Court of Illinois

Page 595

240 N.E.2d 595 (Ill. 1968)

40 Ill.2d 392

The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee,


Albert A. RABY, Appellant.

No. 40596.

Supreme Court of Illinois.

September 24, 1968.

Page 596

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[40 Ill.2d 393] Leo E. Holt, Chicago, and Jack Greenberg and James M. Nabrit, III, New York City, for appellant.

William G. Clark, Atty. Gen., Springfield, and John J. Stamos, State's Atty., Chicago (Fred G. Leach, Asst. Atty. Gen., and Elmer C. Kissane and Joel M. Flaum, Asst. State's Attys., of counsel), for appellee.

[40 Ill.2d 394] SCHAEFER, Justice.

A jury in the circuit court of Cook County found the defendant, Albert A. Raby, guilty of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He was fined $500 on the disorderly conduct charge, and was sentenced to three months in the county jail for resisting arrest. On this direct appeal, he contends that his constitutional rights were violated in several respects.

The facts are undisputed. On June 28, 1965, the defendant and several other persons conferred with the mayor of the city of Chicago about problems of racial segregation in the Chicago public schools. During the conference a number of persons marched around the City Hall block, carrying banners and signs protesting racial segregation in the schools. At the conclusion of the conference, the defendant made a brief speech at the LaSalle Street entrance to the City Hall. After the speech, about 5:00 P.M., at the peak of the evening rush hour, the defendant and about 65 others went to the intersection of Randolph and LaSalle Streets where they either sat down or lay down, completely blocking traffic through the intersection. Police officers asked that they leave the intersection. They refused, and approximately twenty minutes later the officers began placing them under arrest. To arrest the defendant, the officers had to untangle him from others with whom he had intertwined his arms and legs. He then 'went limp' and had to be carried to a police van.

The sections of the Criminal Code under which the defendant was convicted are:

Section 26--1(a). 'A person commits disorderly conduct when he knowingly: (1) Does any act in such unreasonable manner as to alarm or disturb another and to provoke a breach of the peace * * *.' (Section 26--1(b) provides that 'a person convicted of a violation[40 Ill.2d 395] * * * shall be fined not to exceed $500.') Ill.Rev.Stat.1967, chap. 38, par. 26--1.

Section 31--1. 'A person who knowingly resists or obstructs the performance by one known to the person to be a peace officer of any authorized act within his official capacity shall be fined not to exceed $500 or imprisoned in a penal institution other than the penitentiary not to exceed one year, or both.' Ill.Rev.Stat.1967, chap. 38, par. 31--1.

The defendant's first contention is that 'on their face, and as applied to defendant's conduct sections 26--1(a) and 31--1's proscriptions are vague and overbroad in violation of the first and fourteenth amendments of the United States Constitution and Article II, sections 2 and 4 of the Illinois Constitution.'

As to the validity of section 26--1(a), it is said that to be guilty of an offense 'a defendant need only commit an act which subjectively alarms or disturbs another and thereby provokes a breach of the peace,' and that the statute 'subjects citizens' right to engage in certain undefined conduct to the unfettered discretion of the police.' But these arguments overlook the words of the statute which qualify the frame of mind of both the actor and of those affected by the actor's conduct. That conduct must be engaged in 'knowingly' and 'in such unreasonable manner' as to provoke a breach of the peace. The word

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'knowingly' describes a conscious and deliberate quality which negatives accident or mistake. 'Unreasonable' is not a term that is impermissibly vague. As used in the fourth amendment it furnishes the governing standard by which the legality of police intrusions upon privacy are measured. (Terry v. State of Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889.) As used in this statute it removes the possibility that a defendant's conduct may be measured by its effect upon those who are inordinately timorous or belligerent. The well recognized common-law [40 Ill.2d 396] term 'breach of the peace' appears in section 6 of article 1 of the Constitution of the United States.

By a process of selection from among various dictionary definitions of the words used in the pertinent portion of section 26--1(a), the defendant concludes that if those words are read literally, 'a person is guilty of disorderly conduct when he engages in 'conduct which constitutes a breach of the public peace or violates the standards of public morality when he does any act in an irrational, foolish, unwise, absurd, silly, preposterous, senseless, stupid manner so as to frighten, terrorize, apprehend or throw into disorder another and to provoke a violation of public order'.' Such a method of interpretation could, of course, be applied to drain the sense and meaning out of any constitutional or statutory provision, for there are few words that have a constant meaning regardless of their context. In no case has the statute been applied or construed in the irrational manner the defendant suggests, and we foresee no possibility that any court would so construe it.

It is true...

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