State v. Szymkiewicz

In State v. Szymkiewicz, 237 Conn. 613, 621, 678 A.2d 473 (1996), a case in which the breach of the peace statute, 53a-181 (a) (1) was at issue, the Court stated that 53a-181 (a) (1) "does not require proof of actual physical conduct on the part of the defendant with a victim," and concluded "that a fair reading of Indrisano indicates that speech can be proscribed not only when accompanied by actual physical conduct, but also when it can be identified as fighting words that portend physical violence." State v. Szymkiewicz, supra, 237 Conn. at 620. The Court in Szymkiewicz found the interpretation of the language in the disorderly conduct statute, General Statutes 53a-182, to be applicable to the breach of the peace statute, General Statutes 53a-181 (a) (1). State v. Szymkiewicz, supra, 237 Conn. at 618-20. The Court stated that "subdivision (1) of 53a- 181 (a) proscribes speech that properly can be characterized as fighting words when, under the totality of the circumstances, that speech amounts to 'violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior' that portends violence, while subdivision (5) proscribes 'abusive or obscene language.'" Id., 237 Conn. at 622. The court also made clear that all forms of fighting words were not necessarily abusive or obscene, and that the court would, "when and if a case arises in which the prosecution proceeds under subdivision (5) of 53a-181 (a) . . . construe 'abusive' and 'obscene' under the particular facts of that case, taking into account, of course, the principle that the legislative language may not be considered as mere surplusage." Id.