McCoy v. State, 102120 INCA, 20A-CR-723

Docket Nº:20A-CR-723
Party Name:Lorraine McCoy, Appellant-Defendant, v. State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.
Attorney:Attorney for Appellant Victoria Bailey Casanova Casanova Legal Services, LLC Indianapolis, Indiana Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Angela N. Sanchez Assistant Section Chief for Criminal Appeals Indianapolis, Indiana
Judge Panel:Riley, J., and Vaidik, J., concur.
Case Date:October 21, 2020
Court:Court of Appeals of Indiana

Lorraine McCoy, Appellant-Defendant,


State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

No. 20A-CR-723

Court of Appeals of Indiana

October 21, 2020

Appeal from the Noble Superior Court The Honorable Steven C. Hagen, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 57D02-1908-CM-584

Attorney for Appellant Victoria Bailey Casanova Casanova Legal Services, LLC Indianapolis, Indiana

Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Angela N. Sanchez Assistant Section Chief for Criminal Appeals Indianapolis, Indiana


Statement of the Case

[¶1] Lorraine McCoy appeals her conviction of disorderly conduct, a Class B misdemeanor.1 We reverse her conviction.


[¶2] McCoy presents two issues, which we consolidate as one: whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain her conviction of disorderly conduct.

Facts and Procedural History

[¶3] On August 10, 2019, Sergeant Nathaniel Stahl of the Kendallville Police Department was dispatched to a residence for a domestic dispute. When Sergeant Stahl arrived, he learned that Shawn Fritz rented the residence and that he had allowed Shay Bell to move in a few days prior but that he now wanted her to leave. Bell began packing up her belongings, and Fritz went to a nearby residence to obtain his landlord's name and phone number from the occupant of that residence, McCoy. Fritz returned to his residence with the information and shared it with Sergeant Stahl and other officers that had arrived on the scene.

[¶4] McCoy then came out of her residence and began asking questions, advising Fritz and the officers as to the legal implications of the situation, and arguing with the officers about how to handle the situation with Bell. Sergeant Stahl told McCoy, "This over here does not involve you." Ex. 1 (Officer Pegan's body camera footage) at 20:11:44. McCoy argued with the Sergeant, stating that she became involved when Fritz knocked on her door for the landlord information. The sergeant repeated that the situation did not involve her. McCoy then marched up to Sergeant Stahl, looked at the tag on his uniform to obtain his name, and began to walk away. As she did so, the sergeant instructed her, "You stay over there." Id. at 20:11:55. McCoy stopped, turned around, and began walking back toward Sergeant Stahl and yelled, "No! You don't need to talk to me disrespectfully!" Id. at 20:11:55-58. Sergeant Stahl replied, "Ma'am, you've got a disorderly conduct warning. Go to your residence." Id. at 20:11:57-20:12:00. McCoy remained where she was and yelled at Sergeant Stahl: "Really?! Really?! Cuz I . . . I . . . I . . . my right . . ." Id. at 20:11:59-20:12:02. Sergeant Stahl pointed to McCoy's residence, possibly grazing her arm with his finger as he pointed, and ordered, "Ma'am, go to your residence." Ex. 2 (Officer Stahl's body camera footage) at 20:12:02. McCoy screamed, "Get your hands off of me!" Ex. 1 at 20:12:03-05. The sergeant replied, "I'm going to tell you one more time . . .", but he was interrupted by McCoy screaming, "No! My right. Free speech!" Id. at 20:12:05; 20:12:06-08. At that point, Sergeant Stahl put McCoy in handcuffs.

[¶5] Based upon this incident, the State charged McCoy with disorderly conduct, a Class B misdemeanor, and resisting law enforcement, a Class A misdemeanor.2Following a trial to the bench, the court found McCoy guilty of disorderly conduct and not guilty of resisting. The court sentenced McCoy to 180 days, suspended to four days and ordered no probation. She now appeals her conviction.

Discussion and Decision

[¶6] In reviewing McCoy's challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence to support her conviction for disorderly conduct, we neither reweigh the evidence nor judge the credibility of the witnesses. See Sandleben v. State, 29 N.E.3d 126, 131 (Ind.Ct.App. 2015), trans. denied. Instead, we consider only the evidence most favorable to the judgment and any reasonable inferences drawn therefrom. Id. If there is substantial evidence of probative value from which a reasonable fact-finder could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the judgment will not be disturbed. Labarr v. State, 36 N.E.3d 501, 502 (Ind.Ct.App. 2015).

[¶7] To show that McCoy committed disorderly conduct, the State needed to prove that she recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally made unreasonable noise and continued to do so after being asked to stop. See Ind. Code § 35-45-1-3(a)(2). Within McCoy's challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, however, is a question of constitutional dimension: whether she was engaged in protected political expression when she interacted with Sergeant Stahl such that her conviction of disorderly conduct violates article 1, section 9 of the Indiana Constitution.

[¶8] Article 1, section 9 provides: "No law shall be passed, restraining the free interchange of thought and opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write, or print, freely, on any subject whatever: but for the abuse of that right, every person shall be responsible." Because a person's conduct or expression may constitute free speech protected under article 1, section 9, application of the disorderly conduct statute must pass constitutional scrutiny. Barnes v. State, 946 N.E.2d 572, 577 (Ind. 2011), adhered to on reh'g, 953 N.E.2d 473. We employ a two-step inquiry to review the constitutionality of an application of the disorderly conduct statute. Whittington v. State, 669 N.E.2d 1363, 1367 (Ind. 1996). We must first determine whether state action has restricted a claimant's expressive activity. Id. If it has, we...

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