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Houston v. Hill Lives!

Today the Connecticut Court of Appeals, in State v. Silva (here), issued an opinion involving one of co-blogger Norm Pattis' more colorful cases:

The state charged the defendant in an amended information with two counts of interfering with a police officer and two counts of breach of the peace. The first count of interference with a police officer charged that the defendant did so "by saying to [the officer] when requested to produce [her] license, registration and insurance information during a motor vehicle stop, 'F__k you. I ain’t giving you s__t, asshole . . . .'"

What seems to have happened (and I'm not sure, as I haven't discussed the case with Norm) was this... The defendant's brother was injured in a car accident.  When the defendant committed a traffic infraction to find her brother to help out, the police stopped her car and asked for her registration.  That's when the defendant told the officer what she thought of his request for her license and registration.

The police officer did not immediately issue the defendant a ticket.  The defendant, however, never threatened the officer or otherwise prevented him from issuing a ticket.  In other words, the prosecution charged the defendant for conduct solely associated with her speech.

Unfortunately for the defendant, she was convicted after a jury trial.  Properly, the appeals court reversed the conviction on a sufficiency of the evidence rationale.  Since the prosecutor did not present any evidence other than the defendant's constitutionally-protected speech in his case-in-chief for hindering a police officer, the conviction could not stand.

Congrats, Norm!