City of Stoughton v. Powers

In City of Stoughton v. Powers, 264 Wis. 582, 60 N.W.2d 405 (Wis. 1953), the Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected a vagueness attack on a disorderly conduct ordinance which prohibited "any fighting". The court ruled that "fighting" meant voluntary participation in physical combat. In reaching this conclusion, the court relied in part on a North Carolina case from 1875, construing the common-law offense of affray: "Fighting," the act prohibited by the ordinance, has a common and ordinary meaning sufficiently definite to be understood with reasonable certainty by persons of ordinary intelligence. That common and ordinary meaning is well expressed in the old axiom that "It takes two to fight." "Fight" has been defined as a combat between two persons suggesting primarily the notion of a brawl or unpremeditated encounter; as an altercation for which the participant is in some degree to blame and in which he is, to some extent at least, a voluntary participant, and not that which is unavoidable and beyond his control, or which has not been occasioned by any improper conduct on his part. In State v. Gladden, 1875, 73 N.C. 150 1875 WL 2798, when pointing out the necessity of a mutual intent in fighting, the court said that it is not necessary that both parties should give and take blows; but that it was necessary that both parties put their bodies in a position to give and take blows, and with that intent. (City of Stoughton, 60 N.W.2d at 407.)