People on Complaint of Simmons v. Morris

CourtNew York Magistrate Court
Citation23 Misc.2d 242,201 N.Y.S.2d 739
Decision Date13 April 1960
PartiesPEOPLE of The State of New York on the Complaint of Ptl. Calvin SIMMONS v. William MORRIS, Defendant. City Magistrates' Court of City of New York, Borough of Manhattan, Lower Manhattan Summons

Page 739

201 N.Y.S.2d 739
23 Misc.2d 242
PEOPLE of The State of New York on the Complaint of Ptl. Calvin SIMMONS
v.
William MORRIS, Defendant.
City Magistrates' Court of City of New York, Borough of
Manhattan, Lower Manhattan Summons.
April 13, 1960.

Page 740

Ellsworth A. Monahan, Director of Legal Bureau of Police Dept., New York City (Frederick Watts, Jr., New York City, of counsel), for the People.

Emanuel Redfield, New York City, for defendant.

WALTER J. BAYER, City Magistrate.

The defendant is charged with violation of Article 3, Section 21, Subdivision A, of the Rules and Regulations of the Department of Parks, 'in that he did recite an oration' in Washington Square Park on July 12, 1959 without first obtaining a permit.

People's sole witness Patrolman C. Simmons testified that he observed the defendant on the date in question with a group of persons gathered about him, that he did not hear what the defendant was saying or reading, but did observe that the defendant's lips were moving and that the group gathered about the defendant was listening to him. That the defendant was reciting an 'oration' and, not having first obtained a permit, was doing so in violation of the Regulations in question.

The defendant, self-styled 'visual chronicler' of the Beat Generation (Time Magazine, June 22, 1959, p. 62), takes umbrage at the charge that 'he did recite an oration.' Nothing of the sort, claims the defendant. Rather, he says, he merely read some poetry of his own creation to friends and others in the park who chose to listen. The reading took place without pre-arrangement. The poetry in question was placed in evidence at the hearing, but the Court does not deem it necessary for the purposes of this decision to comment upon or judge its literary merit.

However, the Court must determine whether the reading of such poetry constitutes the recitation of an 'oration' within the meaning of the Regulations. The Court has looked to the statute and regulations, as well as the decided cases, and finds [23 Misc.2d 243] no sufficient definition of the term 'recite an oration' to control the instant fact situation. Accordingly, the Court has delved into classical authorities for assistance in resolving this question.

Page 741

While puzzling over the term 'oration' the Court was referred to Plutarch, who warns: 'It is a thing of no great difficulty to raise objections against another man's oration * * * nay, it is a very easy matter; but to produce a better in its place is a work extremely troublesome.' (Of Hearing, 6.) The People of course, do not complain of the content of the defendant's 'oration.' Their complaint, rather, is addressed to his bold effrontery in making it without a permit.

The People's complaint is more akin to that of Aristophenes, who wrote in The Trial of Euripedes: 'I commend the old proverb, 'For we must look about under every stone, lest an orator bite us.'' They would refer us also to Cicero, who claimed that 'loud-bawling orators were driven by their weakness to noise, as lame men to take horse.' (Plutarch, Roman Apophthegms.) I do not hear the People...

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1 practice notes
  • United States v. Bronstein, Case No. 15-cr-00048 (CRC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • December 22, 2015
    ...and Milton in holding that reading one's poetry aloud did not constitute “recit[ing] an oration.” 151 F.Supp.3d 44 People v. Morris , 23 Misc.2d 242, 201 N.Y.S.2d 739, 740–43 (1960) ; see also id. at 740 (“The Court has looked to the statute and regulations, as well as the decided cases, an......
1 cases
  • United States v. Bronstein, Case No. 15-cr-00048 (CRC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • December 22, 2015
    ...and Milton in holding that reading one's poetry aloud did not constitute “recit[ing] an oration.” 151 F.Supp.3d 44 People v. Morris , 23 Misc.2d 242, 201 N.Y.S.2d 739, 740–43 (1960) ; see also id. at 740 (“The Court has looked to the statute and regulations, as well as the decided cases, an......

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