Civil Liberties

Standing in the Place Where He Was; He Stands Accused, Refuses to Stand and Lose; But He's Still Standing, Better Than He Ever Did; Won't Stand Up for Falling Down

|

It's apparently a crime to stand still on the streets of Manhattan:

…when Matthew Jones of Brooklyn lingered on the corner of 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue in the early morning of June 12, 2004, gabbing with friends as other pedestrians tried to get by, something unusual happened: He was arrested for it.

A police officer said Mr. Jones was impeding other pedestrians and charged him with disorderly conduct.

Mr. Jones is not taking the charges lying down (so to speak). After trying twice to get the charges dismissed, he has taken his case to the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, which heard arguments here on Wednesday.

In the prosecution's view, it appears, the innocent do not dawdle. According to the original complaint against Mr. Jones, the officer "observed defendant along with a number of other individuals standing around" on a public sidewalk in June 2004. Mr. Jones was "not moving, and that as a result of defendants' behavior, numerous pedestrians in the area had to walk around defendants."

Surely there's more to this story, right? Ms. Prosecutor?

Paula-Rose Stark, a Manhattan assistant district attorney, argued that the facts in the complaint were sufficient for the charge of disorderly conduct. Mr. Jones's reckless intent, Ms. Stark said, was evident from the fact that his behavior was noticeable in the first place "amid the inevitable hustle and bustle of Times Square, the construction, the vehicular traffic."

Ah. So he was standing noticeably. Now that….still makes no sense at all. Fortunately for Jones, New York's highest court appears to believe he has a leg or two to stand on:

"Isn't that lawful conduct?" wondered Judge Robert S. Smith. Later he added, "Your conduct can't be illegal just because an officer noticed it."

His colleague Judge Eugene F. Pigott Jr. questioned what other violations might attract law enforcement attention.

"All I could think of was a bunch of lawyers from the New York City Bar Association standing around trying to figure out where to have lunch," Judge Pigott said. (The association has offices a block and a half from Times Square.)

Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye seemed likewise nonplused. "This is at 2 a.m.?" she asked, wondering how many pedestrians it would have been possible to inconvenience at that hour. "I guess I'm not in Times Square at 2 a.m. very often."

Good to know that New York taxpayers are paying the state's brightest legal minds to sort this important matter out.

NEXT: Friday Funnies

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Somedays you just can’t catch a break.

    If the officer walked up to Mister Jones, and Mister Jones had run, he’d’a been arrested for evading arrest. Since he didn’t run, he was arrested for disorderly conduct.

    Shouldn’t this have been in the Friday Funnies section?

    CB

  2. Please excuse my crazy state. The police officers are no worse than elsewhere, and fortunately the Court of Appeals seems to have at least moderate sense.

  3. The legal principle here is the definition of “public right of way.” Right. Of way. The people trying to drive, walk, or otherwise move in the right of way have the right to do so, and impeding them, whether by building an addition on your house that encroaches into the public way, or by otherwise blocking it so people can’t use it, is a violation of that right. That’s what a right of way is. That’s why it’s called that. Cops have every right and duty to move people along if they’re blocking a right of way.

  4. Its your police state, I’m just trying (under)STAND it.?

  5. joe,

    Didn’t all those big buildings get in the public right of way? Why were the construction companies or owners not get hauled in? What about all of the cars parked on the street? Or even the ones that were moving? Were they not (at least temporarily) in the way of public right. of way?

    Sounds like selective enforcement of a god-given right to me.

  6. Having actually been to Times Square early in the morning I can confirm that people stand around in the area and talk and gawk at the pretty lights.

  7. So the Civil War was about legal principles, right joe?

  8. Indeed, it would be nearly impossible to take the entire scene in without stopping and looking about.

  9. Right. Of way.

    You’re a douchebag. Douche. Bag.

  10. Hugh,

    The owner of the property – in this case, the City of New York – can license people to occupy the right of way for periods of time, or not, at its discretion. Absent such permission, it’s a crime to block the right of way.

    It’s about as “selective” as you deciding who can come into your yard.

  11. x,y | October 19, 2007, 9:15am | #

    So the Civil War was about legal principles, right joe?

    WTF are you talking about?

  12. Substantive as ever, Sal.

    Awwwwwwwwww, did I kill your puppy?

  13. Awesome, joe is defending the police in this. Please continue, I gotta hear some more about why it’s OK to arrest–not ask to move along–someone standing in Times Fucking Square, where there are things you might want to…uh…stand and look at.

    Times Square at 2AM, by the way, is often damn crowded. It’s one of the busiest places in the City That Never Sleeps.

  14. joe,

    I agree, the cops have an obligation to tell the people to move along if they are impeding pedestrian traffic. Citing people for disorderly conduct for standing still seems a bit much.

  15. Joe- You might have a point if Jones and his friends formed a human barricade and completely blocked the right of way, but the only harm here was that people had to move around him. I tend to be a fast walker – can I have the police arrest the slowpokes in front of me who block the sidewalk?

  16. Aaaay! I’m walking here. Ya mook.

  17. Awesome, joe is defending the police in this.

    Actually, no, I’m explaining the legal principle. You know, the one nobody seemed to be aware of.

    John-David,

    Citing someone for disorderly conduct certainly shouldn’t be the first resort. That’s what the cop should do if to people who refuse to stop blocking the right of way when asked to move on.

  18. Jones should be grateful he wasn’t tasered first.

  19. Sulla,

    Your rights in the R.O.W. aren’t to move exactly how you want, at the speed you want. If other people using the right of way for its intended purpose make it more difficult for you to move, well, that’s just traffic.

    This is an interesting body of law, because it literally goes mack millennia.

  20. defending the cops

    Sigh. Everything’s tribalism to some people.

    Hey, we don’t like dem people, and dat’s all I need to know!

  21. Sulla,

    It’s interesting that there were, apparently, a large number of people standing around with Jones, but he’s the only one to get arrested.

    So it’s pretty unlikely that cops just walked up to him, plucked him out of the crowd of people standing around, and charged him with disorderly conduct.

  22. This sounds like loitering to me rather than disorderly conduct.

    Chicago was constitutionally spanked by the SCOTUS regarding their anti-loitering law a few years back.

  23. Hey, we don’t like dem people, and dat’s all I need to know!

    No, joe, it’s just that watching you defend an idiotic act of over-arching police and prosecutorial action, along with a waste of taxpayer money, is very funny.

    Remember–you are defending arresting someone for standing.

  24. Except I didn’t defend the act. I explained the law.

    I guess you’re not much of a strict constructionist, but some of us think that an understanding of the law is useful when commenting on the goings-on in the legal system.

  25. The owner of the property – in this case, the City of New York – can license people to occupy the right of way for periods of time, or not, at its discretion. Absent such permission, it’s a crime to block the right of way.

    It’s about as “selective” as you deciding who can come into your yard.

    Wow! As a tourist I’ve frequently taken my family to Time Square for the sights, the shows, the restaurants. So our standing around gawking is a crime? The city has the right to arrest us?

    Actually, no, I’m explaining the legal principle.

    Citing people for disorderly conduct for standing still seems a bit much.

    But apparently is legal? What kind of insanity is that?

    I know, I look like a tourist so it won’t be a problem for me, but one of my teenage kids is probably fair game.

  26. Face it, E. As usual, you were so eager to get your hate on – because that’s what you do best – that you jumped the gun and started imaginging things. Which seems to be what you do second-best.

  27. Face it, E. As usual, you were so eager to get your hate on – because that’s what you do best – that you jumped the gun and started imaginging things.

    Isn’t it a little early for you to be claiming victory and doing your usual chest-beating routine? Don’t we need about 200 more posts first?

  28. joe-
    I mean this in a completely non-snarky way, I am genuinely curious. What is the basis of the ROW argument going back millenia? Did it get grafted into the common law from the justinian code or something?

    I agree that you are not allowed to block or create a real impediment in the public ROW. I just can’t see how standing around talking to friends so that pedestrian traffic has to flow around you infringes on the the ROW. Are you infringing any time you are not moving?

  29. stuart l,

    So our standing around gawking is a crime?

    No. Blocking people trying to use the street or sidewalk is a crime. Think of it like a blocking foul – should Shaq start asking, “Is it a crime for me to waive my arms under the basket?” Sometimes it is. That depends on whether you actually interfere with anyone.

    But apparently is legal? But, based on the statements made by the appelate judges, is not legal, if that is all there was. Now, ignoring the cop and continuing to infringe on the rights of other people trying to use the street – THAT could be illegal.

  30. Sulla,

    Actually, I believe the right to use the roads, and the criminal status of blocking the roads, goes back even farther than Rome.

    Now, when somebody’s actions amoung to a crime is a case-by-case issue. The basic principle revolves around the impact your behavior has on others, as with my basketball blocking example above.

  31. Sulla,

    It might be helpful to think of the other definition of “right of way” – as used in the statement, “Pedestrians have the right of way when the Walk light is lit.”

    There is a right that people have to use the public ways. You cannot infringe on other people’s rights.

  32. joe,

    Actually, no, I’m explaining the legal principle. You know, the one nobody seemed to be aware of.

    Fuck the legal principle! The guy got arresting for standing on a public sidewalk.

    A collectivist asshole like you should know that public property is owned by everyone. Hence the term public. It has nothing to do with someone “coming in your yard.”

    Why?

    Because it’s your yard. But since private vs. public property is a concept you can’t seem to wrap your small, statist mind around, here’s some pointers on the subject.

  33. I think you know good and well what I mean joe, but since you’re claiming ignorance, here goes:

    I’ve heard people make the argument that the civil war was about “states’ rights.” That’s analogous to a “legal principle” as indeed the Constitution leaves powers not expressly granted to the federal government to the states. The underlying moral principle, however, was about slavery.

    In this case, the legal principle might very well be about “Right. Of Way.” But the underlying moral principle is whether people may stand on a corner — regardless of the time of day, and especially so late at night when there’s no real inconvenience to others who have to walk around.

    Assuming this analogy applies, and I think it does pretty well, you’re the type of person who would say, “You know, the civil war was not really about slavery, it was about states’ rights …”

  34. That depends on whether you actually interfere with anyone.

    Of course we were interfering with pedestrian (and vehicle) traffic. All of the people standing around having fun are. Have you ever been to Times Square on a Saturday night?

  35. Is it a crime for me to waive my arms under the basket?” Sometimes it is. That depends on whether you actually interfere with anyone.

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but since the object of standing under the basket is to interfere with someone (the ball carrier), this is a poor example. He wouldn’t be called on a foul unless he moved his feet, yes? Standing therefore would not be a crime in this instance

  36. “Your conduct can’t be illegal just because an officer noticed it.”

    Judge Smith is misinformed. Some police officers not only enforce the law, they write new ones whenever they want and interpret existing law however the see fit, according to their moods. Duh.

  37. *the=they

  38. Funny stuff.
    They don’t even do that shit in Singapore.

  39. Settle down, Taktix, and let me school you a little.

    Yes, the sidewalk is public. The public gets to use it. When you stop the public from using it, you are infringing on people’s rights.

    Had you stopped to think, instead of leaping directly to SuperSelfRighteousMan mode, you might have stumbled across the concept of a member of the publc building his shed in the right of way.

    No, your status as a member of the public does not give you the right to privatize that which does not belong to you – ie, encroach onto public property – for your private use. You have the right to use the street; so does everybody else.

    This is easy stuff here, people. I excpet better.

  40. x,y,

    Thanks for the explaination, that wasn’t at all clear to me.

    But the underlying moral principle is whether people may stand on a corner

    No, the underlying moral principle is about whether someone can block the right of way, and block other people from using it.

    Try – come on, really TRY – to think in terms of other people. Try to bring the concept “What are the consequences of my actions on other people?” into your reasoning. That’s the issue here. If there was no one around, then Jones doing exactly the same thing, standing in exactly the same place for exactly the same amount of time in exactly the same manner would be perfectly ok.

    Your right to swing your fist ends at someone else’s nose. Your right to stand in the right of way ends when you are blocking other people.

  41. When you stop the public from using it, you are infringing on people’s rights.

    joe,

    That’s the point, he didn’t stop anyone from using it. Even the arresting officer said that people walked around him.

  42. Reinmoose,

    The example works, becasue exactly the same stances and motions may, or may not, be a blocking foul, and the determining factor is what happens to the other guy.

    The likeness I was trying to get at was not about standing still.

  43. Joe,

    Apparently, the NYC judges didn’t agree with your take on this either (read the whole post).
    So, they are wrong too?

  44. Taktix,

    Grey area there. Were they being forced out into traffic lanes? Was there a clog forming, as people had to squeeze by one by one? These are the questions on which the legality of Jone’s actions turn – what effect they were having on the other people trying to use the street.

    By way of illustration, if I were to block one of the lanes of a two-lane street with my car, the fact that people could cross over the yellow line to get around me would not be a defense.

  45. And I’ll gladly take the moniker of “SuperSelfRighteousMan” if it involves my (and your) basic freedoms…

    How does the Goldwater quote go again?

  46. There’s a part of TFA that doesn’t make sense to me:

    Mr. Jones refused to move when asked, said the officer, Momen Attia, and then tried to run away. When Officer Attia tried to handcuff him, he “flailed his arms,” earning a second charge for resisting arrest.

    So he originally refused, then complied (by running), and instead of the officer being happy, it made the situation even worse? I’d love to actually see the entire record on this, because more than a little of it seems a bit fishy. I bet it’s one from column ‘A’ (officer being a prick) and one from column ‘B’ (loiterer being an equal prick).

  47. By way of illustration, if I were to block one of the lanes of a two-lane street with my car, the fact that people could cross over the yellow line to get around me would not be a defense.

    Not a valid comparison. People are licensed to drive, and are subject to a whole different set of laws.

    Last time I checked, I didn’t require a license to stand on a fucking sidewalk.

  48. joe, did he and his buddies form a goddamn arm-linked human barricade and physically block people from passing around them? Because if they didn’t, and if they only result of them standing on the sidewalk was that people walking toward them had to move a few feet to the right or left and go around them, there is nothing to argue about. Standing on a public sidewalk isn’t a crime, and you damn well know it, and I’m sure the only reason you’re even in this thread is to flex your e-peen and get your argue on.

  49. tk,

    The NYC judges didn’t disagree with my take. Like me, they are looking for something beyond “he was standing there,” for some evidence that his standing there was actually infirnging on other people’s right to use the right of way, before they determined that Jones was guilty of anything.

    As Jones’ lawyer put it: “You need something more,” she said, citing past Court of Appeals decisions. “You need to be being verbally abusive, or really blocking lots of people, or lying down on the sidewalk.”

    The complaint, she added, did not allege that any other pedestrians had been seriously inconvenienced or that Mr. Jones had shouted at or shoved anyone or even that the alleged obstruction was more than temporary. Prosecutors did not say how big Mr. Jones’s group of friends was, or how many people were forced to walk around them.

    As the appellate judge put it: Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye seemed likewise nonplused. “This is at 2 a.m.?” she asked, wondering how many pedestrians it would have been possible to inconvenience at that hour.

    I think the judges got it exactly right; but, of course I do – the agree with me.

  50. Taktix,

    Not a valid comparison. People are licensed to drive, and are subject to a whole different set of laws.

    Then replace “car” with “shed.”

    Are you playing dumb on purpose?

  51. I’m sure the only reason you’re even in this thread is to flex your e-peen and get your argue on.

    But isn’t that the reason we’re all here.

    And just so you know, joe, I do enjoy these morning debates, as it seems to work better than coffee…

  52. Jim Bob’s what, exactly?

    >.>

  53. I once tried to make my way through Times Square on the evening of December 31. My progress was really impeded — in fact, those sidewalk gawkers had spilt into the street! Strangely they had all cast their eyes skyward in anticipation of a bright orb descending upon them to mark one trip ’round the Sun.

  54. Jim Bob,

    Because if they didn’t, and if they only result of them standing on the sidewalk was that people walking toward them had to move a few feet to the right or left and go around them, there is nothing to argue about.

    That’s what I’ve been saying, Einstein!

    What did you think Grey area there. Were they being forced out into traffic lanes? Was there a clog forming, as people had to squeeze by one by one? These are the questions on which the legality of Jone’s actions turn – what effect they were having on the other people trying to use the street. was supposed to mean?

    Are you people doing this on purpose? Are you this incapable of incorporating the effect of a person’s actions on others into your thinking, or this just knee-jerk anti-joe dumbassery?

    You just shriekd at me, Jim Bob, as you made exactly the same point I made earlier.

    WTF, people?

  55. Yes, building a shed on a sidewalk is not appropriate, I suppose, but we’re once again comparing two different things.

    A shed is (generally) a fixed object, a sentient human being is not.

    Sorry I was to busy “playing dumb” to make the distinction…

  56. Arrgh….

    …too busy…

  57. I once tried to make my way through Times Square on the evening of December 31. My progress was really impeded — in fact, those sidewalk gawkers had spilt into the street! Strangely they had all cast their eyes skyward in anticipation of a bright orb descending upon them to mark one trip ’round the Sun.

    In all fairness, that event requires a permit…

  58. A shed is not a person, but it is an infringement on other people’s rights if you black with either a shed or a person.

    The reason a person is not immediately ordered to move as soon as he is seen being still for a moment in the right-of-way is the knowledge that a person can, and probably will, move on his own if he is blocking somebody.

  59. “…if you block…” not black.

  60. omg, this is the dumbest thread..so far…today

  61. otherwise blocking it so people can’t use it, is a violation of that right.

    Standing there yakking with your friends so other people have to step around you is hardly “blocking a right of way” and violating other pedestrian’s rights.

    The owner of the property – in this case, the City of New York – can license people to occupy the right of way for periods of time, or not, at its discretion.

    Not really. The City of New York is prohibited from placing all kinds of restrictions on public places, restrictions that I am perfectly free to place on my property. I can prohibit you from coming on my property; a municipality cannot prohibit you from walking down its sidewalks.

  62. …and I’m sure the only reason you’re even in this thread is to flex your e-peen and get your argue on.

    joe is incapable of backing down from a position. You might have noticed that in the past. He started with the ROW crap and once he starts, that’s it. Makes him very entertaining.

  63. joe, you keep saying the defendant blocked other people from using the right of way. But that’s not how the police described it.

    Mr. Jones was “not moving, and that as a result of defendants’ behavior, numerous pedestrians in the area had to walk around defendants.

    So he didn’t keep people from moving; his position on the sidewalk compelled them to walk around him.

    You pointed out that Your rights in the R.O.W. aren’t to move exactly how you want, at the speed you want. If other people using the right of way for its intended purpose make it more difficult for you to move, well, that’s just traffic.

    Unless you are claiming that the only intended purpose of the sidewalk is to allow pedestrian traffic–that it is not intended to also allow people to stop, converse and look around (even in an area like Times Square, where such behavior is common)–then Jones didn’t block the right of way in the manner you describe as criminal.

    I know, in fact, that New York expressley allows uses of the sidewalk for purposes beyond through traffic by pedestrians–you are allowed to conduct a moving picket as a protest, which might impede pedestrian traffic in exactly the same way that Jones did.

  64. Taktix,

    No one is saying it is inappropriate for a person to be on a sidewalk.

    It is inappropriate for a person on a sidewalk to block people, like a shed.

  65. joe,

    They aren’t NYC judges, they are NY State judges, sitting on the state’s highest court.

  66. It is inappropriate for a person on a sidewalk to block people, like a shed.

    Yo’ mama blocks people like a shed…

  67. RC Dean,

    Standing there yakking with your friends so other people have to step around you is hardly “blocking a right of way” and violating other pedestrian’s rights. It can be. Depends on the details – once again, those details being whether you are, or are not, actually blocking other people from using the sidewalk. Are you claiming the police have no legal authority to move people who block the steet?

    The City of New York is prohibited from placing all kinds of restrictions on public places, restrictions that I am perfectly free to place on my property. Yes, that’s true, you have greater lattitude in the restrictions you can put on the use of your property than the City has over the use of its streets. Nonetheless, they have some lattitude – including the authority to stop people from blocking the streets.

  68. The legal principle here is the definition of “public right of way.” Right. Of way. The people trying to drive, walk, or otherwise move in the right of way have the right to do so, and impeding them, whether by building an addition on your house that encroaches into the public way, or by otherwise blocking it so people can’t use it, is a violation of that right. That’s what a right of way is. That’s why it’s called that. Cops have every right and duty to move people along if they’re blocking a right of way.

    I believe the subtext of the article here (as it is with 99% of Balko’s posts) is the inherent danger of unchecked authority and “creeping” Authoritarianism. Yes, you are correct in your original posting about the principle of “Right of way”. However, that was not really the point. The point was that the officer abused his authority, and the judges (thankfully) understood this and ruled accordingly. I am not looking to argue against the principle of Right of way (that’s just dumb). However, the issue that Balko seems try to shine light on in his posts is that people tend twist the law (i.e. enforcing it in ways that go against its spirit and/or original intent) to suits their own needs/wants.

  69. The legal principle here is the definition of “public right of way.” Right. Of way. The people trying to drive, walk, or otherwise move in the right of way have the right to do so, and impeding them, whether by building an addition on your house that encroaches into the public way, or by otherwise blocking it so people can’t use it, is a violation of that right. That’s what a right of way is. That’s why it’s called that. Cops have every right and duty to move people along if they’re blocking a right of way.

    It pains me to say this, but Joe is right and I agree with him. Some guy (or group of guys) standing in the middle of a sidewalk, forcing throngs of people to step around him is a flaming asshole and should be incarcerated for aggravated assholishness. Second offense warrants tasing followed by arrest. Third offense warrants a 9mm between the eyes.

  70. joe-
    I cannot access the NY code online right now, so I have no way of know if or how the public right of way are defined statutorily. I don’t have time to do a thorough review of the case law, so I will rely on your statements as being the applicable law.

    First – “Your rights in the R.O.W. aren’t to move exactly how you want, at the speed you want. If other people using the right of way for its intended purpose make it more difficult for you to move, well, that’s just traffic.”

    Second – “Yes, the sidewalk is public. The public gets to use it. When you stop the public from using it, you are infringing on people’s rights.”

    How did Jones stop the public from using it? He stood in one place and people stepped around him. This sounds like a minor inconvenience to me. I don’t understand why you are arguing that one person, stopped in the public right of way, is interefering the with the right of the public to move. It is not an unlimted right. What is the difference between me stepping around a stopped person and a moving person?

    I do not remember much from Property Law, but I am pretty sure that movement is not the only purpose of a right of way. As long as people have a right of way, the law considers it a right to be “on” that right of way. If I have a private right of way, the owner of the burdened tenement can not force me to keep moving along the right of way. I don’t see how the public right of way is different.

  71. joe,

    Im confused. Why did you come in talking about right of way when you could have come in and said “I agree with the judges”. Then everyone would have been in agreement, since everyone has been saying that the reason the cops are overreacting is because he didnt block a right of way, he just minorly inconvenienced some people.

    So, Everyone else in agreement with judges.
    You, in agreement with judges.

    But you came in spouting crap about right of ways that isnt applicable to this specific case.

    Is this yet another instance of you posting before reading the fucking article?

  72. parse,

    joe, you keep saying the defendant blocked other people from using the right of way.

    No, I don’t. Show me one place where I said that he was. Every comment I’ve made about the specific case was conditional.

    I’ve been talking about the legal principle, and I’ve even described how the cops’ actions could be inapproprite, depending on the details of the case.

    Nor am I claiming that it is not legal to use the sidewalk to stand and converse. It is legal to stop in the street, or on the sidewalk. As I’ve repeatedly written, it only become illegal if your stopping and chatting is blocking other people from going along their way.

    Other people.

    Other people.

    The effect on other people.

    OK?

    Have I made myself clear yet? The legality of stopping the right of way depends on its effect on other people attempting to use that right of way.

    Can I stop making this point yet, or is somebody else going to misstate what I’ve written?

  73. Actually, I believe the right to use the roads, and the criminal status of blocking the roads, goes back even farther than Rome.

    Oh, okay, I guess I was more curious about how it entered our legal system, i.e., whether it was anglo-saxon, norman, or statutory.

  74. Taktix,

    There’s reasonable debate about important things, and then there’s arguing with joe. joe is often insightful and occasionally funny, but more often he nitpicks fine points to death and then claims he won the argument.

    joe,

    Well then, joe, what are you arguing about? If you acknowledge that people weren’t inconvenienced, blocked, or impeded beyond a reasonable measure, you’re merely debating irrelevant technicalities. Or do you think there is evidence forthcoming that not only were these people standing on the sidewalk, but forcing people out into traffic? Because if you don’t (and I suspect there isn’t), I can’t understand why you continue to argue.

  75. everybody!

    Take the most nuanced position you can. Only then will you appear wise (to yourself) and principled (to yourself).

    Scratch that. Sometimes take the most nuanced position you can. Other times it is appropriate to speak your mind, but for the large part, make statements that can’t be attacked.

    I for one believe that it is sometimes appropriate to stand in the middle of a sidewalk, and sometimes it is not appropriate to stand in the middle of a sidewalk. If this was one of those times where it was appropriate, then Jones should be cleared of his charges. If this was one of those times where it was not appropriate, then Jones was rightfully charged.

    I also believe that sometimes judges decide reasonably and other times they do not. If in this case, the judges decided reasonably, then the ruling is just. If they did not decide reasonably, then the ruling is unjust.

    That’s all I’m trying to say.

  76. Sulla,

    How did Jones stop the public from using it?

    Once again, I don’t know that he did.

    But on the facts, the police went to move along a crowd of people, of which Jones was just one. It seems entirely plausible to me that a crowd of people could block a sidewalk, and police move such crowds along every day.

    As long as people have a right of way, the law considers it a right to be “on” that right of way. Yes.

    If I have a private right of way, the owner of the burdened tenement can not force me to keep moving along the right of way. No, he cannot. He can, however, force you to stop blocking it.

  77. robc,

    Why did you come in talking about right of way when you could have come in and said “I agree with the judges”.

    Becasue I suspected that there would be a lot of people who don’t understand the applicable legal standards. And I was right.


  78. Becasue I suspected that there would be a lot of people who don’t understand the applicable legal standards. And I was right.

    In other words, you wanted to provoke an argument you thought you could easily win.

  79. Jim Bob,

    Well then, joe, what are you arguing about?

    I’m not. I’m stating the facts about the law. Several other commenters have had difficulting understanding my comment about the law, so I cleared it up for them.

    you acknowledge that people weren’t inconvenienced, blocked, or impeded beyond a reasonable measure I don’t. I haven’t ventured an opinion on the facts one way or ther other.

  80. So let me get this straight. In New York City, I can now be busted for jay-standing? WTF??

  81. “Fuck the legal principle! The guy got arresting for standing on a public sidewalk.”

    It depends where you stand. I am a city kid, I grew in Chicago. If you want to stand around on the sidewalke and shoot the breeze with your buddies, that’s OK, and in fact a time honored tradition. You move to the edge of the sidewalk, usually the stoop of a building though so as not to be a public annoyance and asshole. When you stand in the middle of the sidewalk, it is an intentionally provocative act. I applaud the cop here; good call.

  82. Honestly, Jim Bob, I didn’t think I was provoking an argument. I was just shedding some light on the legal background.

    Not my fault that so many people shoot first and ask questions later when they see my name on a comment.

    Let this be a lesson to you. There was no need for this thread to go like this.

    Just chill, people. Read. Think. Then reply.

  83. Becasue I suspected that there would be a lot of people who don’t understand the applicable legal standards. And I was right.

    The legal standard isnt applicable.

    Everyone understands it. But it doesnt apply in this case.

    You were wrong.

  84. Imagine how much more severe the charges would’ve been if he were some tourist, not merely standing still but also taking photographs. Which a terrorist might conceivably use to plan an attack! TERRORISTS!

    I personally am very lucky this cop wasn’t around that time I stopped walking in Times Square, dropped to one knee, and tied my shoes. Not only was I blocking nearly five percent of the right of way, but someone might’ve tripped over me. Somebody could’ve broken his nose, or even died after cracking his skull on a lamppost or something.

  85. joe,

    The reason people shot first is they assumed (wrongly, and I know better in your case) that you were actually on topic.

  86. Not going to be around to reply to responses, Im going to be homeless for the next few hours (between closings). Can I collect some sort of government money?

  87. Joe, quick question about this:

    The owner of the property – in this case, the City of New York – can license people to occupy the right of way for periods of time, or not, at its discretion.

    How is NYC owner of the sidewalks? I was under the impression that public spaces were for government to regulate to ensure the safety of their users, not to own and hassle people at its own discretion. Given that unlike roads, there is no licensing requirement to use the sidewalks, I don’t see how the government can license people to use sidewalks.

  88. joe,

    Okay, fair enough.

  89. joe-
    It looks like we were arguing past each other. I agree that in some cases merely standing in the middle of the public right of way is an interference with the rights of others. I understood you to be arguing that nobody may interfere, however minimally, in the movement of people in the public right of way. This was not your position, and it seems that we agree.

  90. Where’s officer Barbrady when you need him?

  91. Warren,

    Try the doughnut shop.

  92. This situation reminds of the groups of young people who hang out at the local mall. They stand in groups right in the middle of the walkways, forcing others to walk around them.
    It’s mostly young men with low hanging pants who look at you as if to say: I dare you to say something.
    I’m not sure if they should be arrested. But seeing a couple of them get the shit slapped out of them for being the rude assholes they are would be ok with me.

  93. Imagine how much more severe the charges would’ve been if he were some tourist, not merely standing still but also taking photographs. Which a terrorist might conceivably use to plan an attack! TERRORISTS!

    My guess is the cop would have been much gentler with tourists taking photos. He might have politely pointed out that they were impeding traffic…

    The arrested guy was probably some local NY asshole who knew perfectly well what he was doing. On that day, the sheriff in town refused to play his game. The headline should read: Cop Makes Right Decision in Stressful Situation

  94. joe,

    Would you still be talking about legal principles if it were a bunch of Hillary or Obama supporters who were arrested for standing on the corner with a couple of signs?

    I realize this adds a first amendment wrinkle, but you get the gist of what I’m saying.

  95. Depends on the details – once again, those details being whether you are, or are not, actually blocking other people from using the sidewalk.

    If people can step around you, you’re not blocking them.

    C’mon, joe, you’re usually better than this. You know damn good and well that “having a conversation with friends” is not “blocking” under any reasonable definition of the term. You’re entire argument here is based on the assumption that the opposite is true.

  96. robc,

    The legal standard applied precisely to this case.

    You can apply a legal standard to find someone innocent, too.

    Jozef,

    I was thinking of cases where the City can license a construction company rehabbing a building to place its dumpster on the sidewalk for a week. I was not claiming that the city can deny people the right to walk down the street. That’s not the “license to use the right of way” I meant.

    Sulla, Jim Bob:

    Group hug?

  97. This situation reminds of the groups of young people who hang out at the local mall. They stand in groups right in the middle of the walkways, forcing others to walk around them.
    It’s mostly young men with low hanging pants who look at you as if to say: I dare you to say something.
    I’m not sure if they should be arrested. But seeing a couple of them get the shit slapped out of them for being the rude assholes they are would be ok with me.

    exactly!

  98. The cop arrested the guy for disorderly conduct, not blocking the ROW.

    All you guys arguing that this is some sort of human rights violation obviously did not grow up in the city. This was a smart alecky punk intentionally being an asshole by blocking pedestrian traffic. He got off easy in my opinion.

  99. My guess is the cop would have been much gentler with tourists taking photos. He might have politely pointed out that they were impeding traffic… The arrested guy was probably some local NY asshole who knew perfectly well what he was doing.

    I’m too lazy to Google the incidents of people arrested for taking photographs (because if you have a photo of a bridge, you can BLOW IT UP OMG).

    And even assuming the guy was being rude, do you really think giving cops leeway to arrest someone merely for “being an asshole” is a wise idea? Think of the precedent this would set. Cops would indeed have the right to arrest people for shoe-tying in public (unless they get a proper permit for it first). A woman standing on the street corner can be assumed a prostitute rather than a woman merely waiting for a friend.

    New York sidewalks are very wide. Even if this guy was the size of Walter Hudson, he wasn’t blocking sidewalk traffic anymore than some slow-walking Granny was.

  100. x,y,

    Boy, you just said a mouthful!

    There was a case in Salt Lake City, where the city sold the LDS church a block of Main Street, to become the church’s private property. The Tabernacle was on one side, some other church building was on the other, and they wanted to landscape the street to create a campus. The city sold them the land, with an easement allowing the public to use it “as a pedestrian right of way.”

    So the next thing you know, LDS security throw some guy off the property for handing out Fundie pamphlets. Our land, our rules. The case went through the court system, with the church arguing that using the road as a right of way refered only to passing and repassing on it, while the fundies argued that their actions – free speech, pitching your religion to passers-by – is a customery use of public streets, just as much as walking. The court ruled for the plaintiffs.

    Not exactly responsive to your point, I know. What I’m saying is, political and religious expression – rights enumerated in the Constitution – are given a deferential status under the law. There’d be a clash of rights in such a case, and the outcome would probably turn on the details.

  101. I bet it’s one from column ‘A’ (officer being a prick) and one from column ‘B’ (loiterer being an equal prick).

    Me too. But we pay the officer.

  102. RC Dean,

    If people can step around you, you’re not blocking them.

    Again, we need to know more. Are they “stepping around you” into traffic? Is there a crowd being blocked, and people squeezing one-by-one past the group of people talking?

  103. Hitler didn’t let Jews stand on the sidewalk.

  104. It’s mostly young men with low hanging pants

    I don’t know if they should get a beat-down, but I do know I wish there were more groups of young women with low hanging pants, hanging out in the malls, blocking my way and looking at me like they wanted me to say something to them

  105. I’ve been in cities. New York, Chicago, San Francisco. Sometimes I’ve had to walk around someone else on a sidewalk. Locally, I frequently have to walk around people at work, at the beach, or in the mall. The act of altering my once straight walking path with the addition of a small semi-circle has never once been an inconvenience to me. I imagine that I would be quite a pussified little nitwit if it did.

    Standing still, even in a group, is not “blocking my right of way.” You want to think about other people, fine. How about considering how MY bullshit insistence on a walking path unflinchingly parallel to the street, enforced by police, would affect the lives of other people doing nothing more than exercising their right to peaceful assembly?

    I don’t have the right to a pure, unobstructed walking path because that puts demands on other people to be harassed and arrested for doing things that don’t hurt anyone else, like standing still. I’m not selfish enough to demand that they move for me because I can easily walk around them and go about my day.

  106. joe, your original comment was The legal principle here is the definition of “public right of way.”

    I thought when you said “the legal principle here” you meant “the legal principle in this case that the post is discussing.”

    But apparently you really meant “the legal principle in the case of someone who was blocking the sidewalk so people can’t use it, which no one (including the arresting officer and the assistant DA arguing the case) was claiming the defendant was doing.”

  107. joe,

    So, the next time that a Union creates an obstruction of public space in NYC, the police will arrest them, right?

  108. ” numerous pedestrians in the area had to walk around defendants.”

    O my God the humanity!!!!!

  109. So someone standing still is no longer a member of the public?

    Seems a bit screwy.

  110. I can “stand” in the suburbs.

  111. parse,

    It is the same legal principle. It is the principle that allows us to distinguish between an act that violate the law, and an act that does not.

    One can write, “The legal principle that applies here is the right to self-defense” to explain why someone who shot another person is innocent.

    You need another name, since “parse” means “read closely.”

  112. Rimfax,

    I have no idea what a police department would do. I do know that protesters get arrested for blocking rights-of-way fairly regularly.

    Would anyone else care to take a shot at setting “slow mover” straight? I’m not sure I could be polite.

  113. t is the same legal principle. It is the principle that allows us to distinguish between an act that violate the law, and an act that does not.

    One can write, “The legal principle that applies here is the right to self-defense” to explain why someone who shot another person is innocent.

    Hyperbole Alert!

    DRINK!

  114. Hitler used to tell people when to drink.

  115. und he used to tell zem venn zey should schower.

  116. Slow mover-
    AFAIK, it is impossible for a person to cease being a member of the “public,” as understood when dealing with the public right of way. The issue is not whether someone is a member of the public, but whether they are interfering with the rights of other members of the “public.” Your right to enjoy a public right of way is not absolute and must yield to the rights of others under some circumstances.

  117. Once again, I stress to people: filter Joe, it’s a much better board.

  118. Sulla,

    I realize that, thank you.

    ROW seems to be a majority-rule situation and must distinguish between groups of people. Obviously in this case a person standing still was somehow impeding the majority.

    As Jennifer pointed out it’s not particularly different than a slow moving granny, or for that matter, a wheelchair bound person or a morbidly obese fellow on a scooter who is not technically disabled, but still manages to impede the majority.

    Since the walkway is public property, as others have pointed out, this sort of police enforced concept of ROW leads to rather unsettling results.

    What is the ROW in a situation of most people in a given area gawking at a blimp, or some other externality, with a minority that can still pass but with less ease than usual? Given the majority rule roots, it seems those trying to pass and imepeding those standing still, by way of bumping or obstructing a view, are the ones in err.

    It’s a bit screwy to me.

  119. My guess is that there was more to the original incident than either side wants to admit.

    Jones may have behaved like a jerk and the cop may have over-reacted to Jones behavior and decided to “show him who was boss”. (This is speculation.)

    No matter what the full story is, by now both sides have got so much invested in this that neither wants to back down. I suspect both sides now wish that they had “just let it go” right at the beginning.

    As for the “right of way” debate, there have been anti-obstruction laws since at least Rome. (You could not bring a wagon inside city walls between sunrise and sunset at one point.)

    Technically, anyone blocking a pedestrian or vehicle traffic area, even momentarily, is “obstructing the right of way”. However, only a real jerk of a cop would insist on enforcing it to the letter absent other circumstances.

  120. Actually, no, majority has nothing to do with it.

    If 20 people standing around are blocking one granny trying to walk down the street, she has the right of way, and they can be ordered to move.

    Also, the law does not say that you cannot move slower than anyone else. It says that you cannot block the r.o.w. In practice, this requires the police to use common sense and consider local conditions. For example, if you are diving 10mph on a narrow cobblestone street vs. 10 mph in the center lane of a highway. Or, if a granny with her walker is walking down the street slower than everyone because she’s slow vs. a kid walking at the same pace and deliberately stepping in front of people. That last bit is why the DA tried to argue that Jones was being deliberate and flagrant in court.

  121. As Jennifer pointed out it’s not particularly different than a slow moving granny, or for that matter, a wheelchair bound person or a morbidly obese fellow on a scooter who is not technically disabled, but still manages to impede the majority.

    Yes, it is different. All of your examples are of people who reasonably impede others. Some asshole standing in the middle of a busy sidewalk for no reason other than to inconvenience others should be arrested.

  122. For a magazine…

  123. One can write, “The legal principle that applies here is the right to self-defense” to explain why someone who shot another person is innocent.

    But it wouldn’t make much sense to claim that was the legal principle in a case where no one was claiming the defendant had shot another person. Where is the person in this case who claimed Jones was “blocking [the right-of-way] so people can’t use it.”

    And since you want to be an asshole about it, “parse” does not mean “read slowly.”

  124. joe | October 19, 2007, 12:10pm | #

    For a magazine…

    does this mean we only take half-a-drink?

  125. And even assuming the guy was being rude, do you really think giving cops leeway to arrest someone merely for “being an asshole” is a wise idea? Think of the precedent this would set. Cops would indeed have the right to arrest people for shoe-tying in public (unless they get a proper permit for it first). A woman standing on the street corner can be assumed a prostitute rather than a woman merely waiting for a friend.

    Jennifer, I see your point, but it is all about context, as most things are. I don’t believe this cop arrested this guy because he paused momentarily at the street corner. Knowing what I do about this case, I side with the cop.

  126. Wayne,

    Impeding flow over what time period?

    One minute? Five minutes? Ten? At what point does a transient blockage become unreasonable?

    The fellow in the article would have moved eventually. In my own experience I’ve found it difficult to even stand still in the writhing mass of people in Times Square.

    Yes he’s an asshole, but that’s hardly grounds to arrest someone. A citation I could justify, if and only if his standing still was beyond a well defined unreasonable amount of time that is documented as part of the NYC sidewalk code of conduct or whatever. (if such a tome exists)

    joe,

    Thank you joe for the response, I do not agree with the right of way laws – however they do make sense in their own ways. It’s far too selective and subjective in my opinion for any degree of uniform, or sane, enforcement as this article brings to light.

    I do not feel like arguing however as it’s the never ending libertarian vs the world line of argument.

  127. You can have “common sense” as the deciding factor as to whether an action breaks the law, and run the risk of subjectivity, abritariness, and uneveness in its application.

    Or you can have precise, black-letter specificity, and run the risk of absurd and disproportionate responses.

    Or you can have no law, and the guy or group with the highest net body mass can determine whether the sidewalk will be blocked or passable.

    Really, there are pros and cons to each option.

  128. Thomas Paine’s Goiter | October 19, 2007, 11:57am | #

    Once again, I stress to people: filter Joe, it’s a much better board.

    Now that I have finally perfected the Disco Filter?, too late to have any real impact, I’ll get to work on the joe filter.

    Hmmm,
    Sanctimony detecter, check.
    Pomposity discriminator, check.
    Denial recognition software, check.
    Pedant identification circuitry, check.

    This can be done. I’ll be in the lab.

  129. everybody,

    Not related to right of way. What’s your view on the officer initiating the response, rather than say, responding to a complaint by someone affected?

    Had the officer not been there it would have been life as usual for the guy. At least it seems that way.

  130. J sub D | October 19, 2007, 12:39pm | #

    Thomas Paine’s Goiter | October 19, 2007, 11:57am | #

    Once again, I stress to people: filter Joe, it’s a much better board.

    Now that I have finally perfected the Disco Filter?, too late to have any real impact, I’ll get to work on the joe filter.

    Hmmm,
    Sanctimony detecter, check.
    Pomposity discriminator, check.
    Denial recognition software, check.
    Pedant identification circuitry, check.

    With all those filters, I think you wouldn’t see ANY posts.

    😉

  131. With all those filters, I think you wouldn’t see ANY posts.

    I didn’t say it would be bug free.

  132. With all those filters, I think you wouldn’t see ANY posts.

    I didn’t say it would be bug free.

    Not sure that that’s a bug.

  133. “…What’s your view on the officer initiating the response…”

    It looks to me like the asshole blocking the sidewalke initiated the whole thing.

  134. “Jones may have behaved like a jerk and the cop may have over-reacted to Jones behavior and decided to “show him who was boss”. (This is speculation.)”

    I suspect there may be a sequence error in your speculation.

  135. Aresen | October 19, 2007, 1:28pm | #

    With all those filters, I think you wouldn’t see ANY posts.

    I didn’t say it would be bug free.

    Not sure that that’s a bug.

    Okay, I’ll call it a feature and charge extra. (Thanks Scott Adams)

  136. OK, show’s over. Nothin’ to see here. Move along, Johnny!

  137. Under joe’s reading of the legal principle, cops arresting the “criminals” on the street would also be breaking the law because they would be blocking other people’s right of way.

  138. Reason Staff, this is addressed to you, are you paying Joe to be a devil’s (the state) advocate, or is he a moniker of one of the regular columnist? Nobody, not even a retiree or a welfare queen has the time on their hands to comment and be the center of attention in every frickin’ post.

  139. P Brooks

    I suspect there may be a sequence error in your speculation.

    Wouldn’t surprise me in the least if what I speculated happened the other way around.

    I still bet they now both wish they’d let it slide.

  140. alan

    No. joe’s just a free feature.

    Like the plastic toy in the cereal box.

    runs for cover

  141. btw, ‘right of way’ was never brought up in the court as the charge was ‘disorderly conduct’, so the entire discussion of the matter has been pointless to the case. Joe successfully used a switch and bait to defend the cops as even he recognized the flimsiness of the actual charge.

  142. Like the plastic toy in the cereal box. – Aresen

    More like the onions on a cheeseburger.

    I hate onions, and always ask that they not contaminate my burger.

    Kevin

  143. thanks Aresen, I’m still new to hit and run but ever since I’ve discovered it, it has practically taken up all of my lunch break time. I even make simpler meals to eat for lunch just to accommodate the H&R fix.

  144. a little explanation to address points I left out.

    Joe’s argument is predicated on the notion that the only legitimate public use of Time Square is the purpose of traffic, to get from point A to point B, this is not case so the right of way argument, as far as the article revealed, was never touched upon.

    We should be concerned with the use of ‘disorderly conduct’ as a general catch-all that stretches the legal principle of specificity in law and not this irrelevant side show Joe started.

  145. “Impeding the right of way” or any similar action is not a crime in any jurisdiction I am aware of. The right of way is a legal concept that helps explain why Jones does not have an unlimited right to stand in the middle of the sidewalk. I’ve (quietly) disagreed with joe on a lot of issues during the time I’ve been a reader, but he is correct here. I don’t know whether Jones was interfering with the right of way. Merely standing in one spot so that people have to pass around you does not sound like a violation of the right of way. Let’s assume argument’s sake that Jones was _unreasonably_ blocking the flow of traffic. Would it be wrong for the police to ask him nicely to move? I’m not a huge fan of the cops, but is that really an imposition on his liberty?

    NY law defines disorderly conduct (in part) as:
    A person is guilty of disorderly conduct when, with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof: 5. He obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic; or 6. He congregates with other persons in a public place and refuses to comply with a lawful order of the police to disperse; or
    Section 240.20 of the Penal Code of New York (too lazy to bluebook it).

    This does require some judgment calls, but I do not think it is overly vague. Sometimes there will be close calls, but that is what we have courts and appeals for. Based purely on the facts of the article, the police may have overreacted. Still, I do not think it is fair to act like this is a huge miscarriage of justice.

  146. Let’s assume argument’s sake that Jones was _unreasonably_ blocking the flow of traffic.

    This is known as assuming your conclusion.

    I think that’s a pretty huge assumption to make, since apparently he was standing in the sidewalk talking to his friends.

    Are you saying “standing in the sidewalk talking to friends” = “unreasonably blocking the flow of traffic.”?

    Cause if you are, there are two people in the whole world who agree with you – joe, and some dickhead New York cop.

  147. @Sulla

    As a small clarification, in this particular case Jones was charged with violating only Penal Law ? 240.20 (5), not 240.20(6). It may not make a difference in this case, though the dissenting judge on the Supreme Court seemed to think it mattered:

    “The cases cited by the Majority are distinguishable and generally refer to Penal Law ? 240.20 (6) 2, which was never changed in the information, where the defendant failed to ‘disperse’ after being given a lawful order by a police officer.”

    People v. Jones, 2006 NY Slip Op 26425 (2006).

  148. *spots Kevrob, that king of CHEEZLAND*

    PEEK A BOO!

  149. I think I made it very clear in my posts that I do not think “standing on the sidewalk talking to friends” = “unreasonably blocking the flow of traffic.” I was responding to the commenters like alan who said “Joe’s argument is predicated on the notion that the only legitimate public use of Time Square is the purpose of traffic, to get from point A to point B, this is not case so the right of way argument, as far as the article revealed, was never touched upon.”
    My point was that the argument is not predicated on the notion that the only public use of Times Square is the purpose of traffic. It is predicated on the notion that the public uses are not unlimited. I was saying that standing in public is okay, as long as you do not unreasonably intefere with the rights of others.
    We don’t have a lot of facts to go on – once the case is decide I’d be happy to look at the record and get a better idea for the facts of the case. From the article it looks like the prosecution had an extremely weak case. I am only responding to the commenters who are arguing that people have an unlimited right to stand in the middle of the sidewalk.

  150. @Bill,
    Thank you for the clarification. I figured it was 5 but threw 6 in there for good measure. If I have time I’ll take a look at the opinion.

  151. Ah NYC is finally catching up with Dallas on this racket. I was thrown in jail 6 years ago by Dallas cops for the same reason. I took my workmates out after work as a social bonding. We were standing on the sidewalk figuring out where to go when 2 cops shined lights in our face and began pushing us off the sidewalk. I blurted out.. “Isn’t that harrasement” and they threw me to the ground and handcuffed while saying “No.. This is harrasement.” In front of all my workmates! We couldn’t believe they were cops. We thought they were crooks pretending to be cops.. I guess in actuality they were. Our forefathers would be so proud!

  152. I walk through this area every day; it is ALWAYS a zoo, at any time of the day or night. If you’re standing in the middle of the sidewalk talking to your idiot friends, and none of you notices that there are HUNDREDS of people struggling to get around you, then you deserve to be arrested, stomped, tased, cited, whatever. Dumbasses.

  153. alan,

    Radley Balko, and not me, brought up the issue of whether it is legal to stand on the sidewalk and block people.

    My explaination of the law assumes that the movement of traffic is ONE appropriate use of the right of way, not the only one.

    And the blocking of the sidewalk, and the officer enforcing the law against doing so, were the physical and legal predicates to the entire case.

    So, except for those little manners, your assertion that I introduced the legality of standing on the sidewalk into a discussion, wen it had no relevance, based the assumption that the right of way has only one use was really helpful.

  154. I hope your mom is standing on the sidewalk one day trying to read signs to see where to go. And she gets tased in the face. Dumbass go back to your country.

  155. I walk through this area every day; it is ALWAYS a zoo, at any time of the day or night. If you’re standing in the middle of the sidewalk talking to your idiot friends, and none of you notices that there are HUNDREDS of people struggling to get around you, then you deserve to be arrested, stomped, tased, cited, whatever. Dumbasses.

    egg fucking zackly!

  156. Not’n ta see here, boys. Move along.

  157. wasn’t aware I was posting on a cops and douchebags forum. but while I’m here… People trying to read and decide where to go have the same rights a people walking by. They don’t make designated “Decision making areas” if they did we would all win. Except for the police who would not benefit financially from whatever they felt like arresting someone for that particular week. Yeah I agree people are getting dumber to say the least, but excessive force by police is hardly the answer. If you want to wither away our freedoms to some police state why don’t you move to China or North Korea. Realize the true measure of what your saying. Dumbass.

  158. Stop feeding the troll. He gets off on arguing and feeling superior. Must have some other small shortcomings.

  159. Below is the evidence from the charging document. The question in this case — and I’m quoting from the dissent here — is whether it contained “sufficient evidence to state a prima facie case or reasonable cause to convict defendant of Penal Law ? 240.20 (5).” See Sulla’s post above for what the law says.

    So here is what the charging document actually said:

    “Deponent states that he observed defendant along with a number of other individuals standing around at the above location, to wit a public sidewalk, not moving, and that as a result of defendants’ behavior, numerous pedestrians in the area had to walk around defendants.

    “Deponent states that deponent directed defendant to move and defendant refused and as deponent attempted to stop defendant, defendant did run.

    “Deponent states that while a police officer was attempting to arrest defendant for the above described offense, defendant resisted in that defendant flailed his arms and refused to place his hands behind his back.”

    The dissenting judge said this statement is insufficient. According to him, “There must be a claim of ‘serious annoyance’ or a ‘threatening or abusive’ manner to pedestrians[.]” This is the issue now before the Court of Appeals.

  160. Easy for you to judge if you’re not the one trying to get by these idiots. They can consider it a lesson on basic courtesy.

  161. And when the cop dragged his stupid ass out of the way, what do you think all of the “witnesses” said now that they could get by?

    A: “Oh, that’s wrong, you’re violating that boy’s right to freely express himself!”
    B: “Good for you, DUMBASS.”

    I vote B.

  162. I saw this story in another place.

    The poster left out the important part that people repeatedly asked the fool to move and he refused.

    That was why he was arrested, for being a shmuck, not for standing still.

  163. The comments on this thread are totally lame and reek of ‘nerd-fighting’! Thanks Fark!

  164. Joe:

    While there is a literal definition of blocking a ROW, as I’m sure you’re aware there are also situational circumstances in play here as well. The context of the surrounding environment at that time plays heavily into what constitutes “blocking a ROW” at that particular time and place.

    After reading this *entire* thread, I can only conclude that indeed you’ve never been to Time Square on a Saturday night. The definition that you’ve laid out on obstructing the right of way, if applied at that time, would mean that a whole bunch of people would be arrested.

    From what I’ve seen there at night, this guy would have had to have been standing with like 20 or 30 of his closest friends in order to rise to the level of “impeding” in this context.

    I do not offer any comment on whether or not the officer asked him to move before arresting him, as a “resisting arrest” charge is not part of this particular appeal as far as I can tell.

  165. Great Andrew, now all we need to do is round up all the “schmucks” and throw them in jail. Then everything will be fargin’ grand, right?

  166. “Fark Got Me Here | October 19, 2007, 4:18pm | #

    The comments on this thread are totally lame and reek of ‘nerd-fighting’! Thanks Fark!”

    I’m going to drink beer now- Later, losers!!

    -Fellow FARKer

  167. This is just another example that police do not do as their monicker infers, protect and serve. Instead, they harrass and extort. Police are the thugish enforcement agency for the elitist rich to maintain their Machivellian power status by making the poor poor and rich richier. Our laws and justice system are not based on equality and justice but on corrupt monatary system baised against the lower class.

  168. “Chris | October 19, 2007, 4:13pm | #
    And when the cop dragged his stupid ass out of the way, what do you think all of the “witnesses” said now that they could get by?

    A: “Oh, that’s wrong, you’re violating that boy’s right to freely express himself!”
    B: “Good for you, DUMBASS.”

    I vote B.”

    and what do you think the inconsiderate folks oblious to what’s going on were thinking?

    Oh I love getting harrased while trying to make a decision.. Nowhere else to make a decision and talk to friends.

    or..

    Gee I sure am glad this officer helped us out of the way.. I may have delayed those people on the sidewalk for another 5 seconds.

    Golly Gee Chris I bet it was Choice B.

    We have the same rights dood. Excessive force is not a right for cops to use. Could have simply said. You guys are going to need to move out of the way. So much easier the being a dickhead cop. Which you obviously are.

  169. What interests me is the idea of speed: we can be arrested on the road for going above the posted limits BUT along with that if we do under the legal limit AND everyone else is going faster, we can be arrested for causing disorder (reckless fashion.) So is the law on sidewalks not the same? You cannot do “X” but if everyone else is doing so, you must do “X”, but “X” is illegal?

    Talk about tramping on 5th amendment.

    Part of the problem is the law contradicts itself thereby leaving way too much freedom for police. I think the same has occurred here; go too fast, you are acting dangerous; go too slow (legal) you are acting dangerous. Go with the flow; risk getting ticketed for ‘being safe.’

  170. Scott,

    I’m completely in agreement with on the law, but I think you’ve misread my comments.

    I haven’t offered an opinion on whether the guy’s behavior met the legal standard. I was just discussing what the legal standard is. I brought up reasonableness and common sense in earlier comments to get at exactly the point you make about the specific circumstances varying from place to place, but I guess I didn’t state it clearly enough.

  171. Not a cop.

    “Trying to make a decision and talk to friends”? No, I believe the allegation was “BEING AN ASSHOLE”.

    Now, you go hold hands with Ron Kuby, I’ll go drink beer.

    NO BEER FOR YOU!!

  172. Dude RAN! and resisted arrest.
    Joe, it’s time for your tea and crumpets now. After that we’ll get you that nice peanut butter enema you’ve been asking for.

  173. Why does everything today involve something going into or coming out of my ass?!?

  174. I wouldn’t be surprised if the real reason behind this arrest was to try and set a legal precedent. Once it’s determined (if the judges decide in favor of the prosecution) that it is illegal to stand on the sidewalk and block traffic, then cops can start arresting anyone they see standing around on the sidewalk, particularly drug dealers and prositutes who often stand in one place for lengthy periods of time.

  175. From the original article –
    “Mr. Jones refused to move when asked, said the officer, Momen Attia, and then tried to run away. When Officer Attia tried to handcuff him, he “flailed his arms,” earning a second charge for resisting arrest.”

  176. By the way Joe, I’m totally behind you on this one. I can’t believe how many people can’t see your side of the argument, i.e. the correct side. I haven’t once read your comments as reading that you agree with what’s happening, only that you’ve explained why it’s happened or has been allowed to happen. You should try fark sometime, you might mind a little bit more thoughtful, although crude, user case to forum with.

  177. Kris, or Mr. Kringle, can I call you that? Thanks for being my latest syncophant.Would you be interested in a nice warm oil massage later? I can provide the happy ending even!
    Thanks for the invite to Fark. See you soon!

  178. The problem with articles like this is that you never get the full details.

    If the guy was completely blockading the sidewalk, forcing people into the street, and was asked multiple times by a cop to move over and he didn’t, then I don’t think a trivial charge is inappropriate. (Pretty sure ‘disorderly conduct’ gives you no jail time, no record, and something like a $50 ticket.)

    On the other hand, if the guy was blocking the way, and the cop just came out of nowhere and whacked him with a fine without talking to him and giving him a chance to move, then yeah, that’s overkill at least.

    In either case, it’s a round of he-said, she-said between the cop and the guy, so if there were no witnesses, the guy wins by default as the burden of proof is on the prosecution, not the defense. On the other hand, if there WERE witnesses, and the guy was being a jackass, then that will come out in court, and the guy loses. Either way, I can’t imagine any longterm problems from this.

  179. By the way, you are all invited to my mom’s house later for tea and crumpets with peanut butter toppings!

  180. This may be the single lamest topic I’ve seen people arguing about. And as such, some of these comments are the lamest in the world. It is all mildly interesting.

    Thanks Fark!

  181. Just to make it a little easier, here’s a link to the particular thread relating to this article.

    http://forums.fark.com/cgi/fark/comments.pl?IDLink=3146819&ok=1

  182. joe | October 19, 2007, 9:30am

    “Your rights in the R.O.W. aren’t to move exactly how you want, at the speed you want. If other people using the right of way for its intended purpose make it more difficult for you to move, well, that’s just traffic.”

    So, Mr. Expert, How slow can you go and still be traffic? Though it doesn’t say how long he was actually standing there, be it one minute or 10, he had to move there at one time, and move away from there later. Hence he was traffic, which is known to stop many times.

  183. I wonder if racial profiling was a problem here – unfortunately they don’t say the race of the individual or hint at the possibility that it may have been a different motivation other than indeed merely standing around – they probably suspected he was selling drugs.

  184. Fark got me here too. Don’t the cops use common sense in New York? You should look at sacking this one for being too authoritarian.

  185. It’s a ridiculous charge, prima facie. But it could’ve been worse. Had the cop committed aggravated assault with intent to cause grievous pain, oops, I mean “taken the situation in hand by Tasering the suspect”, it’s now generally considered that going into involuntary convulsions while being elctrocuted constitutes “resisting arrest”, thereby justifying voluntary manslaughter, oops, I mean “an accidental death due to previously undiagnosed medical condition”.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderrful, if the subsequently-vindicated “suspects” so often arrested on bogus charges during felony assault by cops, were allowed to beat the bejesus out of the cop, in the town square? Court cost could be defrayed by selling tickets.

  186. In Manhattan, the sidewalks are major thoroughfares. Most Manhattanites commute to work on foot, Standing still in the flow of foot traffic there is the equivalent of parking your car in the middle of an intersection. The cop was right. Matthew Jones wasn’t “just standing there” he was obstructing traffic.

  187. As a Manhattanite, I have to say that I APPLAUD this. It’s not as silly as it sounds. If, as Trerro claims, the officer had already repeatedly requested that the man move out of the way, I believe that he had every right to arrest him.

    There have been many times that I have been forced to walk in the busy streets of NYC because someone decided to stand around blocking up the sidewalk. This puts other pedestrians at dangerous risk of being struck be a vehicle.

    Perhaps it is hard to imagine this if you don’t live in the city. If you do (and ESPECIALLY if you live/work around midtown), I think that you would agree that this is a major problem and that it is a good thing that someone did something about it. Perhaps this will get those selfish people who linger in crowds on the sidewalk to go find a place to hang out.

    If you don’t live in the city, think of it this way — the sidewalks are like another area of traffic due to the number of people here that do not use cars, and stopping like this on the sidewalk is like parking a group of cars on the highway.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.