ANDERSON, J., delivered the opinion of the Court.
On April 19, 1966, the appellants were tried in the Municipal Court of Baltimore and convicted of disorderly conduct in violation
Appellants raise seven allegations of error on appeal:
The evidence adduced below established that on Monday, March 28, 1966, at approximately 3:00 p.m., a group comprised of 30 to 40 demonstrators, evidencing dissatisfaction with the United States policy in the Vietnam conflict, congregated outside the United States Recruiting Station at 3328 Greenmount Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland. Subsequently, three of the appellants entered the Recruiting Station and demanded, through their spokesman, Harding, that their protest posters be displayed inside. This request was rejected and the appellants refused to leave until there was compliance with their demand. Thereafter, the three additional appellants also entered and joined the original three.
Mr. Frank Udoff, United States Marshal for the District of Maryland, approached the appellants shortly before the usual 5:00 p.m. closing time, identified himself, and requested them to leave peacefully. This request was rejected and it became necessary for Mr. Udoff to deputize several Baltimore City policemen to assist in the physical removal of the appellants to the sidewalk outside. By stipulation, there was no dispute as to the authority of the Marshal to so remove the appellants.
Some appellants were carried outside and deposited in a prone position upon the sidewalk while others were escorted out. Two appellants attempted to crawl back to the doorway and thus bar its closing.
Appellants then assumed either a semi-circular sitting or prone position, fully blocking the ten to twelve foot sidewalk for picketers and pedestrians alike. This performance attracted a gathering of between 80 and 100 onlookers. Some of the gathering became hostile and hurled statements at the demonstrators inclusive of "let's get them," "we'll take care of them." As the crowd increased its discontent, the police found it necessary to hold the crowd back and to intercede between the two elements. As the situation grew more tense and the anger grew, additional sentiments were hurled from the crowd, such as, "Bomb Hanoi," "let's get them, I'll bust him in the mouth." The resultant turmoil was such that the police found it necessary to fend off
At this juncture, the appellants were ordered by police to get up, but they declined to abide by the order. As the possibility of violence increased the order was repeated three times, but appellants continued to refuse to respect the order. Subsequently, the officers arrested the appellants and charged them with disorderly conduct directly arising out of the obstruction of the sidewalk which consequentially was causing a public disturbance and the specific refusal to comply with three lawful commands of the police officers.
I and II
The thrust of the appellants' first and second contentions is that Article 27, section 123, Maryland Code Annotated (1967 Repl. Vol.), fails to afford sufficient fair warning that the conduct herein engaged in was subject to criminal sanctions and is therefore unconstitutionally vague and indefinite; and that, furthermore, the application of the statute infringed upon the rights protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
All statutes come before this Court cloaked in a presumption of constitutionality. Therefore, any challenge levied at the constitutionality of a duly enacted statute must clearly establish that said statute plainly contravenes the Federal or State Constitutions, otherwise the presumption remains unrebutted and the statute will not be declared unconstitutional. See Woodell v. State, 2 Md.App. 433, 437, 234 A.2d 890 (1967). Clearly, a statute is within the guidelines of the constitutional safeguards only if persons of ordinary intelligence would be able to know when their conduct would place them in violation of the specified statutory prohibition. Connally v. General Construction Co., 269 U.S. 385, 46 S.Ct. 126, 70 L.Ed. 322 (1926); Lanzetta v. New Jersey, 306 U.S. 451, 59 S.Ct. 618, 83 L.Ed. 888 (1939). However, while compelling strict compliance to such guidelines, the Federal Constitution refrains from the imposition of impossible standards of specificity in the construction of penal statutes. The primary requirement is that a statute convey "sufficiently definite warning as to the proscribed conduct when
The formulation of statutory language is, at best, an inexact exercise vulnerable to varying degrees of doubt and ambiguity. Therefore, the enunciation of the meaning and ambit of a specific statute by judicial construction strives to ascertain and define the legislative intent and purpose, and upon making of a determination of the legislative meaning the efficacy of the statute is more clearly and precisely promulgated.
In making our determination of the instant statute's constitutional posture, we remain attentive to the observation of Mr. Justice Holmes in Roschen v. Ward, 279 U.S. 337, 49 S.Ct. 366, 73 L.Ed. 722 (1929), when he stated at page 339:
Article 27, section 123, Maryland Code (1967 Repl. Vol.), states in pertinent part:
In rejecting a prior contention that the statute was unconstitutional on its face, the Court of Appeals in Drews v. State, 224 Md. 186, stated at page 192, through Judge Hammond (presently Chief Judge) that:
In Sharpe v. State, 231 Md. 401, 404, 190 A.2d 628 (1963), while the Court of Appeals did not reach the question of whether the charge of disorderly conduct could be justified, it did observe that "[r]efusal to obey a proper order of an officer may constitute an offense justifying an arrest, particularly where there is profanity in the presence of others that may threaten a breach of the peace. Cf. Drews v. State, 224 Md. 186, 192 and cases there cited. See also Lippert v. State, 139 N.Y.S.2d 751, City of St. Petersburg v. Calbeck, 121 So.2d 814 (Fla.); City of Saint Paul v. Morris, 104 N.W.2d 902 (Minn.). Other cases are collected in a note, 34 A.L.R. 566." (Emphasis added).
Our review, therefore, is directed not only to the statute per se but to the judicial construction of same, as the cumulative effect constitutes the controlling constitutional posture of the statute at the time of the alleged offense. Shutlesworth v. City of Birmingham, 382 U.S. 87, 92, 86 S.Ct. 211, 15 L.Ed.2d 176 (1965); Ashton v. Kentucky, 384 U.S. 195, 198, 86 S.Ct. 1407, 16 L.Ed.2d 469 (1966).
It is of considerable significance that the prior constitutional challenge levied upon this specific statute and section in Drews v. State, supra, 224 Md. 186, reversed and remanded on other grounds in Drews v. Maryland, 378 U.S. 547 (1964) was affirmed on remand in Drews v. State, 236 Md. 349, 204 A.2d 64
In Feiner v. New York, 340 U.S. 315, 318, 71 S.Ct. 303, 95 L.Ed. 267 (1951), the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of Feiner for violation of § 722 of the Penal Law of New York.
In that case, Feiner's activity was observed by the police without interference until, observing the changing tenor of the crowd, both for and against his expressed views, the police on three occasions, requested him to cease and desist. He refused to do so and the police finally "stepped in to prevent it from resulting in a fight."
In affirming, the Court stated at page 320:
Applying the common sense doctrine, we find that the instant statute in conjunction with the previous judicial constructions cited was sufficiently definite to inform a man of ordinary intelligence of the nature of activity proscribed. Faced with the
While it is clear that the protections afforded by the First and Fourteenth Amendments encompass a spectrum of application with regard to freedom of speech that includes the less pure non verbal freedom of speech, Stromberg v. California, 283 U.S. 359, 51 S.Ct. 532, 75 L.Ed. 1117 (1931); Carlson v. California, 310 U.S. 106, 60 S.Ct. 747, 84 L.Ed. 1104 (1940); Brown v. Louisiana, 383 U.S. 131, 86 S.Ct. 719, 15 L.Ed.2d 637 (1966), freedom of even the pure forms of speech are by no means absolute. As Mr. Justice Holmes stated in Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47, 52, 39 S.Ct. 247, 63 L.Ed. 470 (1919):
The controlling principle was enunciated as:
In the subsequent case of Frohwerk v. United States, 249 U.S. 204, 206, 39 S.Ct. 249, 63 L.Ed. 561 (1919), Mr. Justice Holmes extended the aforenoted statement in Schenck, supra, stating "that the First Amendment while prohibiting legislation against free speech as such cannot have been, and obviously was not, intended to give immunity for every possible use of language. Robertson v. Baldwin, 165 U.S. 275, 281."
Here, however, we are not confronted with such a pure form of expression as the verbalized or printed word, but by a particular form of conduct and as such the constitutional protection afforded is more limited. We are unaware of any tenet of law
Our interpretation of the cases directed at the subject of free speech evidences to our satisfaction that it is the substance rather than the form of communication to which the protection attaches and such regulation of the form is constitutional where same arises from a legitimate State interest and not for the sole purpose of censoring the underlying thought or idea. See Brown v. Louisiana, supra, (383 U.S. 131); Cox v. Louisiana, supra, (379 U.S. 536); Carlson v. California, supra, (310 U.S. 106); Thornhill v. Alabama, 310 U.S. 88, 60 S.Ct. 736, 84 L.Ed. 1093 (1940); Stromberg v. California, supra, (283 U.S. 359).
We find the instant statute to be a proper exercise of the police powers of this State directed toward the maintenance of public order.
Appellants' third contention is without merit. The evidence before the trial court clearly established that the arrests and charges resulted from appellants' refusal to cease their obstruction
Appellants' fourth contention is without merit. Appellants contend that the term "appeals" with respect to their trials, improperly informed the jury that they had been convicted in the Municipal Court of Baltimore City.
The record before us clearly establishes that the trial court excluded all papers reflecting the guilty finding below, and replaced them with papers designating them as "Appeals." Based upon the record below, this allegation constitutes a bald allegation devoid of any evidentiary showing of such prejudice.
Appellants' fifth contention also fails. The trial court inquired sufficiently into the areas of general bias or prejudice of the prospective jurors toward the appellants. While rejecting the specific request to inquire on voir dire as to whether or not the jurors had relatives serving in Vietnam, the trial court carefully inquired into whether any preconceived opinions or judgments existed on the jurors' part.
We find that having relatives serving in the Armed Forces an insufficient showing of alleged prejudice to constitute a challenge for cause.
Appellants' sixth contention is devoid of merit. The matter of allowing the State to reopen its case by presenting another witness is clearly within the discretion of the trial court. Tingler and Wright v. State, 1 Md.App. 389, 392, 230 A.2d 375 (1967). Concerning the apparent violation of the sequestration order, it is clear that even where such a violation exists, this would not of itself require a reversal. "It is within the discretion of the trial judge to determine whether to admit the testimony of the witness where there has been a violation of the exclusion
Appellants' final contention is without merit. We find the events which led to the ejection from the Recruiting Station, resulting in the appellants' presence on the sidewalk, constituted a proper and relevant background to the crime charged.