Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:On March 6, 2002, Department of Public Safety Trooper Mark Koenig stopped appellant’s pickup truck for traveling 65 mph in a 55 mph zone. The truck was occupied by appellant and her 7-year-old son. The officer told appellant he was going to write her a citation and told her to stay where she was. He then returned to his patrol car to verify appellant’s identity and to run a check of her criminal history and driving record. As Koenig sat in his patrol car, appellant’s truck began to move slowly forward. He repeatedly warned appellant to stop and to put the vehicle’s gearshift into park, but the truck continued to move slowly some distance before coming to a complete halt. Over the next 40 minutes, the appellant refused to comply with the officer’s requests that she open a window or get out of the truck. After consulting by phone with a superior officer, Koenig advised appellant that she was under arrest for evading arrest and refusing to accept the speeding citation. He requested that she peacefully step out of the vehicle and explained that if she did not, he would have to break the window and forcibly remove her. After appellant ignored these pleas, Koenig broke a window in appellant’s truck and opened the doors. Koenig restrained appellant while Fisher attempted to restrain appellant’s son. Appellant shouted for the boy to run and shouted, apparently to anyone passing by or looking on, “They will kill him.” The boy first turned as if to run onto the highway and then ran to a nearby gas station where he was stopped by a civilian. The entire incident was videotaped by a camera in Koenig’s patrol car. The appellant was charged with the offense of Interference With Public Duties, a Class B misdemeanor. The information under which appellant was tried charged that she did, “with criminal negligence interrupt, disrupt, impede, and otherwise interfere with the said M. Koenig by driving her vehicle forward while the said defendant was lawfully detained; and by directing her minor child to leave her vehicle and run in an area near traffic; and by continuously refusing to obey orders regarding officer safety, while M. Koenig, a peace officer, was performing a duty or exercising authority imposed or granted by law, to wit: to preserve the peace within the officer’s jurisdiction.” The appellant was convicted and sentenced to 30 days in jail and a $1000 fine, but imposition of sentence was suspended, and she was placed on probation. The Court of Appeals reversed the conviction and rendered a judgment of acquittal. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. The court of appeals correctly points out that the Transportation Code authorizes arrest for the offense of speeding, if the violator refuses to make a written promise to appear in court. But appellant did not simply refuse to sign a citation. In fact, Officer Koenig never presented her with a citation. Each of the three acts she was charged with � moving her vehicle forward, disregarding officer safety commands by removing her hands from view and shouting to her child to “run” � consists of more than simply refusing to make a written promise to appear, and it is for those acts that she was prosecuted. Whether or not appellant’s acts interfered with the detention, her acts interfered with the officer’s duties during the encounter. Her act of moving forward forced Koenig to interrupt his conversation with the dispatcher and disrupted his plan to present a speeding citation. Her refusal to stop when first ordered to do so also forced Koenig to call another officer to assist him � further impeding his attempt to efficiently and speedily serve her with a citation. Her failure to keep her hands in the open also served to distract Koenig’s attention, thereby prolonging the stop. Moreover, the court of appeals is mistaken in saying that these acts did not interfere with the detention itself. Movement of the vehicle in the face of the officer’s command to desist was itself an act inconsistent with the officer’s exercise of authority to detain her. The court disagrees with the court of appeals’ conclusion that appellant’s shout to her son to “run” was “speech only.” Appellant’s shout to her seven-year-old son was a command to act. In the First Amendment context, from which the “speech only” defense was apparently derived, words that are specifically designed to prompt an associate to action are not simply speech, but are conduct that may be treated accordingly, the court states. OPINION:Keller, P.J.; Keller, P.J., delivered the opinion of the court in which Price, Womack, Johnson, Keasler, Hervey, Holcomb and Cochran, JJ., joined. Meyers, J., filed a dissenting opinion. DISSENT:Meyers, J. “The court of appeals probably did an incorrect sufficiency analysis. . . . “Even though the court of appeals did not use the correct analysis in this published opinion and the State brought the wrong grounds for review, since this is an extremely fact-bound case involving a state statute, the improper analysis does not affect our jurisprudence and we should dismiss this case as improvidently granted.”

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.