State v. Taylor

CourtNew Jersey District Court
Writing for the CourtHUOT
Citation121 N.J.Super. 395,297 A.2d 216
Decision Date09 November 1972
PartiesSTATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff, v. Robert B. TAYLOR, III, Defendant.

Page 395

121 N.J.Super. 395
297 A.2d 216
STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff,
v.
Robert B. TAYLOR, III, Defendant.
District Court, Bergen County,
New Jersey.
Nov. 9, 1972.

Page 396

Theodore Carron, Asst. Prosecutor, for plaintiff.

Louis J. Dinice, Hackensack, for defendant.

HUOT, J.D.C.

This is a complaint charging defendant with violating N.J.S.A. 2A:170--29(2) (b).

On August 1, 1972, at about 2 P.M., defendant Robert B. Taylor, III was observed by police officers to be standing on Shaler Boulevard, Ridgefield, New Jersey and holding a yellow cardboard sign on which the words 'RADAR AHEAD' were plainly visible. Upon these facts defendant was subsequently arrested and charged as a disorderly person in violation of N.J.S.A. 2A:170--29(2)(b). The pertinent section of that statute reads as follows:

2. Any person who in any place, public or private,

b. Obstructs, molests or interferes with any person lawfully therein; or

Is a disorderly person.

It is alleged that defendant, in the act of displaying the above-described sign, is a disorderly person in that he obstructed and interfered with the right of motorists who were driving on Shaler Boulevard at that time, and the right of the police officers to control, through the operation of radar equipment, the rate of speed of motorists driving on Shaler Boulevard. The issue to [297 A.2d 217] be resolved by this court, therefore, is whether or not the act of holding a sign stating 'RADAR AHEAD,' while standing in the field of vision of passing

Page 397

motorists, should be construed as a disorderly act within the purview of the statutory language expressed in N.J.S.A. 2A 170--29(2)(b).

' Disorderly conduct' is not an offense known to common law. Convictions for acts constituting disorderly conduct must be for some offense prohibited by statute. State v. Labato, 7 N.J. 137, 80 A.2d 617 (1953); Breisia v. Court of Common Pleas, Hudson County, 11 N.J.Misc. 937, 169 A. 335 (Sup.Ct.1933). Statutory offenses are characterized as being either Mala in se or Mala prohibita. An act is Malum in se if it is inherently and essentially wrong and injurious. Those acts which do not fall within the category of Mala in se but which are proscribed by the Legislature, such as the statute involved in the instant case, are Mala prohibita: it is not the nature of the act that renders it wrong, but rather the fact that its commission is expressly forbidden by law. Since the illegality of a Malum prohibitum act results from positive law, it becomes naturally incumbent upon the courts to construe the statute proscribing the act in conformance with legislative intent and to avoid those constructions which render any part of the statute superfluous. State v. Wean, 86 N.J.Super. 283, 206 A.2d 765 (App.Div.1965); State v. Rullis, 79 N.J.Super. 221, 191 A.2d 197 (App.Div.1963). Case law construing the Disorderly Persons Act has indeed been solicitous of the intent of the Legislature and supportive of the position that such intent is to be discerned from the language of the statute; hence the condemned act must be plainly and unmistakably within the penal statute and not within an arbitrary expansion of the scope of the statute. State v. Leonardo, 109 N.J.Super. 442, 263 A.2d 725 (App.Div.1970); State v. Wenof, 102 N.J.Super. 370, 246 A.2d 59 (App.Div.1968); State v. Smith, 46 N.J. 510, 218 A.2d 147 (1966); State v. Gibson, 92 N.J.Super. 397, 400, 223 A.2d 638 (App.Div.1966); State v. Wean, Supra, State v. Rullis, Supra, State v. Caez, 81 N.J.Super. 315, 195 A.2d 496 (App.Div.1963); Neeld v. Giroux, 24 N.J. 224, 229, 131 A.2d 508 (1952); Halsted v. State, 41 N.J.L. 552, 597 (E. & A. 1899).

Page 398

With these precepts in mind, we now turn to an examination of the statute in question. It is indisputable that the protection of the statute does extend to prolice officers who were controlling the rate of speed of motorists on Shaler Boulevard. Cf. State v. Furino, 85 N.J.Super. 345, 204 A.2d 718 (App.Div.1964). What is questionable is whether or not defendant, by the act of displaying the sign in question, did 'obstruct' or 'interfere' with these police officers and the motorists on Shaler Boulevard.

Black's Law Dictionary (4th ed. 1968) defines 'obstruct' as to hinder or prevent from progress, check, stop, also to retard the progress of, or make accomplishment of difficult and slow; and the word 'interfere' as to check,...

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5 practice notes
  • State v. Lashinsky
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • July 23, 1979
    ...v. Smith, 46 N.J. 510, 520, 218 A.2d 147, Cert. Den. 385 U.S. 838, 87 S.Ct. 85, 17 [404 A.2d 1126] L.Ed.2d 71 (1966); State v. Taylor, 121 N.J.Super. 395, 398, 297 A.2d 216 (Cty.Dist.Ct.1972). A number of cases have held that interference does not require actual or total physical Page 10 fr......
  • State v. Ramos, No. 33,217.
    • United States
    • New Mexico Supreme Court of New Mexico
    • June 27, 2013
    ...in its nature is not intrinsically wrong, except for “the fact that its commission is expressly forbidden by law.” State v. Taylor, 121 N.J.Super. 395, 297 A.2d 216, 217 (N.J.Dist.Ct.1972). This is not a crime malum in se—or a crime exhibiting an “evil mind,” such as an inherently immoral a......
  • State v. Manning
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • January 28, 1977
    ...17 L.Ed.2d 71 (1966); State v. Guillotte, 10 N.J.Super. 502, 77 A.2d 65 (Cty.Ct.1950)) none of them, except perhaps State v. Taylor, 121 N.J.Super. 395, 297 A.2d 216 (Cty.Ct.1972), Hold that the statute is applicable only where there is conduct which impedes another's physical' movement or ......
  • State v. Doss
    • United States
    • Superior Court of New Jersey
    • February 19, 1992
    ...of his duties, an individual toward whom such instructions are directed has a correlative duty to obey them." See also State v. Taylor, 121 N.J.Super. 395, 297 A.2d 216 (Cty.Dist.Ct.1972). When defendant continued his flight from the pursuing police officers despite their shouted orders to ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • State v. Lashinsky
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • July 23, 1979
    ...v. Smith, 46 N.J. 510, 520, 218 A.2d 147, Cert. Den. 385 U.S. 838, 87 S.Ct. 85, 17 [404 A.2d 1126] L.Ed.2d 71 (1966); State v. Taylor, 121 N.J.Super. 395, 398, 297 A.2d 216 (Cty.Dist.Ct.1972). A number of cases have held that interference does not require actual or total physical Page 10 fr......
  • State v. Ramos, No. 33,217.
    • United States
    • New Mexico Supreme Court of New Mexico
    • June 27, 2013
    ...in its nature is not intrinsically wrong, except for “the fact that its commission is expressly forbidden by law.” State v. Taylor, 121 N.J.Super. 395, 297 A.2d 216, 217 (N.J.Dist.Ct.1972). This is not a crime malum in se—or a crime exhibiting an “evil mind,” such as an inherently immoral a......
  • State v. Manning
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • January 28, 1977
    ...17 L.Ed.2d 71 (1966); State v. Guillotte, 10 N.J.Super. 502, 77 A.2d 65 (Cty.Ct.1950)) none of them, except perhaps State v. Taylor, 121 N.J.Super. 395, 297 A.2d 216 (Cty.Ct.1972), Hold that the statute is applicable only where there is conduct which impedes another's physical' movement or ......
  • State v. Doss
    • United States
    • Superior Court of New Jersey
    • February 19, 1992
    ...of his duties, an individual toward whom such instructions are directed has a correlative duty to obey them." See also State v. Taylor, 121 N.J.Super. 395, 297 A.2d 216 (Cty.Dist.Ct.1972). When defendant continued his flight from the pursuing police officers despite their shouted orders to ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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