R.I.T. v. State, CR-94-1603

CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals
Writing for the CourtCOBB
Citation675 So.2d 97
PartiesR.I.T. v. STATE.
Decision Date29 December 1995
Docket NumberCR-94-1603

Page 97

675 So.2d 97
R.I.T.
v.
STATE.
CR-94-1603.
Court of Criminal Appeals of Alabama.
Dec. 29, 1995.

Page 98

Julius H. Hunter, Jr., Phenix City, for Appellant.

Jeff Sessions, Atty. Gen., and David Bjurberg, Asst. Atty. Gen., for Appellee.

COBB, Judge.

The adjudication of delinquency of the appellant, R.I.T., based on the trial court's finding of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest must be reversed and a judgment rendered in favor of the appellant.

Russell County Deputy Sheriff Chance Corbett testified that while on patrol he was dispatched to the house of the father of the 13-year-old appellant. The appellant's father had requested assistance in investigating an allegation that the appellant had run away while on weekend visitation with his father, who was the noncustodial parent. Corbett stated he was standing in the father's driveway discussing the matter when the appellant and his brother walked up. R. 6. Corbett testified that "when [the appellant] got close enough ... I started talking to him and told him he was going to have to stay home with his father and listen to his father and he started backing away from me.... I went to approach him to talk to him again and he said 'fuck you' and then turned to go away from me. That's when I grabbed his arm then and he started resisting [arrest] then." R. 7. Corbett testified that the appellant was "walking away from [Corbett] when he said ['fuck you']" and that the appellant "never threatened" him. R. 9. Corbett testified that he remembered three people, the father, the stepmother, and a brother, "standing around" at the time of the incident. R. 8. He testified that he arrested the appellant for saying "fuck you."

One of the underlying offenses in the delinquency petition was disorderly conduct.

"A person commits the crime of disorderly conduct if, with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, he:

"....

"(3) In a public place uses abusive or obscene language or makes an obscene gesture."

"...."

Ala.Code 1975, § 13A-11-7(a)(3). The "abusive or obscene language" provision of the disorderly conduct statute "is very narrow and applies only to 'fighting words.' " Mosley v. City of Auburn, 428 So.2d 165, 166 (Ala.Cr.App.1982), superseded on other grounds, Mason v. City of Vestavia Hills, 518 So.2d 221 (Ala.Cr.App.1987), and commentary to § 13A-11-7. What language constitutes "fighting words" was discussed in Judge Bowen's concurring opinion in Shinault v. City of Huntsville, 579 So.2d 696, 699-700 (Ala.Cr.App.1991) (Bowen J., concurring). A portion of that discussion follows.

" 'This Court has defined "fighting words", in light of the United States Supreme Court decisions in Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568, 62 S.Ct. 766, 86 L.Ed. 1031 (1942), and Gooding v. Wilson, 405 U.S. 518, 92 S.Ct. 1103, 31 L.Ed.2d 408 (1972), as follows:

" ' "[T]hey are those words which have a likelihood of causing a violent response by the person to whom they are addressed. They are words that by their very utterance provoke a swift physical retaliation and incite an immediate breach of the peace."

" 'Skelton v. City of Birmingham, 342 So.2d 933, 936-37 (Ala.Cr.App.), remanded [on other grounds], 342 So.2d 937 (Ala.1976).

" '... As we observed in Skelton, construing a similar Code provision:

" ' "[T]he statute requires that the words be calculated to cause an immediate breach of the peace. It is not enough ... they merely arouse anger or resentment. "

" '342 So.2d at 937 (emphasis added) [in Shinault ].' "

579 So.2d 696, 699-700. In B.E.S. v. State, 629 So.2d 761, 764 (Ala.Cr.App.1993), this court acknowledged that,

" '[W]ords may or may not be "fighting words," depending upon the...

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19 practice notes
  • State v. Baccala, SC 19717
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • July 11, 2017
    ...context based view is a logical reflection of the way the meaning and impact of words change over time. See R.I.T. v. State , 675 So.2d 97, 99 (Ala. Crim. App. 1995) ; People v. Stephen , supra, 153 Misc.2d at 387, 581 N.Y.S.2d 981 ; State v. Harrington , 67 Or.App. 608, 613 n.5, 680 P.2d 6......
  • Bailey v. State, No. CR
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arkansas
    • July 9, 1998
    ...words" doctrine has evolved to the point that we no longer have per se "fighting words." See, e.g., R.I.T. v. State, 675 So.2d 97, 99 (Ala.Cr.App.1995)("Words must be evaluated in the era in which they are uttered--words that constitute fighting words change from generat......
  • Ruffino v. City of Hoover, Case No. 2:08–CV–0002–SLB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • August 29, 2012
    ...was limited to “fighting words.” See, e.g., [891 F.Supp.2d 1267]Conkle v. State, 677 So.2d 1211 (Ala.Crim.App.1995); R.I.T. v. State, 675 So.2d 97 (Ala.Crim.App.1995); B.E.S. v. State, 629 So.2d 761 (Ala.Crim.App.1993); Robinson v. State, 615 So.2d 112 (Ala.Crim.App.1992). “[Fighting words]......
  • Walker v. Briley, No. CV 00-BU-2145-E.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • April 18, 2001
    ...any laws when officer asked to see license, and passenger's statement did not constitute "fighting words"); R.I.T. v. State, 675 So.2d 97, 98-100 (Ala.Cr.App.1995) (juvenile's statement of "fu* * you" to police officer, spoken in front of only family members and as juven......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 cases
  • State v. Baccala, SC 19717
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • July 11, 2017
    ...used.").This context based view is a logical reflection of the way the meaning and impact of words change over time. See R.I.T. v. State , 675 So.2d 97, 99 (Ala. Crim. App. 1995) ; People v. Stephen , supra, 153 Misc.2d at 387, 581 N.Y.S.2d 981 ; State v. Harrington , 67 Or.App. 608, 613 n.......
  • Bailey v. State, No. CR
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arkansas
    • July 9, 1998
    ...that the "fighting words" doctrine has evolved to the point that we no longer have per se "fighting words." See, e.g., R.I.T. v. State, 675 So.2d 97, 99 (Ala.Cr.App.1995)("Words must be evaluated in the era in which they are uttered--words that constitute fighting words change from generati......
  • Ruffino v. City of Hoover, Case No. 2:08–CV–0002–SLB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • August 29, 2012
    ...was limited to “fighting words.” See, e.g., [891 F.Supp.2d 1267]Conkle v. State, 677 So.2d 1211 (Ala.Crim.App.1995); R.I.T. v. State, 675 So.2d 97 (Ala.Crim.App.1995); B.E.S. v. State, 629 So.2d 761 (Ala.Crim.App.1993); Robinson v. State, 615 So.2d 112 (Ala.Crim.App.1992). “[Fighting words]......
  • Walker v. Briley, No. CV 00-BU-2145-E.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • April 18, 2001
    ...not broken any laws when officer asked to see license, and passenger's statement did not constitute "fighting words"); R.I.T. v. State, 675 So.2d 97, 98-100 (Ala.Cr.App.1995) (juvenile's statement of "fu* * you" to police officer, spoken in front of only family members and as juvenile was w......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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