State v. Indrisano

In State v. Indrisano, 228 Conn. 795, 640 A.2d 986 (1994) the Court in considering the mens rea required by the disorderly conduct statute, General Statutes 53a-182, stated that "the predominant intent is to cause what a reasonable person operating under contemporary community standards would consider a disturbance to or impediment of a lawful activity, a deep feeling of vexation or provocation, or a feeing of anxiety prompted by threatened danger or harm." Id., 810. Under "subdivision (1) of 53a-181 (a) . . . physical fighting, and physically violent, threatening or tumultuous behavior" rather than mere verbal speech is prohibited. Id., 812. The Court outlined the guidelines of the vagueness doctrine as set forth by our Supreme Court. "The purpose of the vagueness doctrine is twofold. The doctrine requires statutes to provide fair notice of the conduct to which they pertain and to establish minimum guidelines to govern law enforcement. The United States Supreme Court has set forth standards for evaluating vagueness. First, because we assume that man is free to steer between lawful and unlawful conduct, we insist that laws give the person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited, so that he may act accordingly. . . . Second, if arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement is to be prevented, laws must provide explicit standards for those who apply them. . . . Third, but related, where a vague statute abuts upon sensitive areas of basic First Amendment freedoms, it operates to inhibit the exercise of those freedoms." Id., 802-803. The Court held that 53a-182 (a) (2) was impermissibly vague on its face, but applied an interpretive gloss to preserve its constitutionality. State v. Indrisano, supra, 228 Conn. at 801. Section 53a-182 (a) provides in relevant part that "a person is guilty of disorderly conduct when, with intent to cause inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, such person . . . (2) by offensive or disorderly conduct, annoys or interferes with another person. . . ." The Indrisano court noted that subdivision (2) of 53a-182 (a) has two components, "by offensively or disorderly conduct" and "annoys or interferes with another person." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Id., at 817. In addressing the first component, "by offensive or disorderly conduct," the Supreme Court interpreted the phrase to mean "conduct that is grossly offensive, under contemporary community standards, to a person who actually overhears it or sees it." Id., at 818. In addressing the second component, "annoys or interferes with another person," the Indrisano court interpreted the phrase to mean "disturbs or impedes the lawful activity of another person." Id., at 819. Finding that 53a-182 (a) (2) was unconstitutionally vague in the absence of that judicial gloss, our Supreme Court in Indrisano vacated the defendant's conviction. Id., at 820. To uphold the constitutionality of 53a-182 (a) (2), the court also required that a judicial gloss apply to the statutory language, "by offensive or disorderly conduct, annoys or interferes with another person . . . ." Id., at 819.