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City of Seattle v. Lockhart

April 14, 1997

THE CITY OF SEATTLE, RESPONDENT,
v.
VICTOR LOCKHART, APPELLANT.



Appeal from Superior Court of King County. Docket No: 93-1-07820-6. Date filed: 00/00/00.

Petition for Review Denied September 3, 1997,

Authored by Faye C. Kennedy. Concurring: C. Kenneth Grosse, Susan R. Agid.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kennedy

KENNEDY, A.C.J. -- Victor Lockhart appeals his conviction of obstructing a public officer, contending that the obstruction ordinance is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, and that his conviction was not supported by sufficient evidence. Based on the analysis set forth in our recent opinion in City of Seattle v. Abercrombie, *fn1 we hold that the obstruction ordinance is neither void for vagueness nor overbroad. Because the evidence was sufficient to support Lockhart's conviction, we affirm.

FACTS

On August 31, 1993, at about 10:45 p.m., Seattle Police Officers Scott McGlashan and George Baseley were on routine patrol in Gasworks Park when they noticed a large group of people near the children's play area. As they approached the group, the officers saw that one person was holding an open bottle of beer. Because it is a violation of the Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) to have an open container of alcohol in a public place, the officers contacted the group, identifying themselves by displaying their badges and their caps which were inscribed with the word "Police."

As Officer McGlashan spoke with the person who had been holding the bottle of beer, Officer Baseley asked the rest of the group to move out of the area. While most of the group complied, Lockhart approached Officer Baseley and began yelling profanity. Because Lockhart assumed a "belligerent posture" in close proximity to the officers, Officer Baseley testified that he felt his personal safety was threatened. Report of Proceedings at 70. Officer Baseley thus ordered Lockhart to "back off, move back." Report of Proceedings at 70. When Lockhart failed to respond, Officer Baseley directed his flashlight across his cap and said: "Seattle Police, move back, get back." Report of Proceedings at 71. Although Lockhart indicated that he understood that the officers were with the police department, he refused to move and continued yelling. When Lockhart refused to comply with Officer Baseley's second order to move, Officer Baseley put his fingers on Lockhart's chest and physically moved him back. The officer informed Lockhart that if he interfered, he would be subject to arrest for obstructing a public officer. Lockhart initially complied, moving back a short distance, but then approached the officers again, yelling loudly. Officer Baseley testified: "I ordered him to get back again, I told him get away from me, just get back, stay away from me."

Report of Proceedings at 72. The officer repeated his order several times, and when Lockhart eventually began to move away, Officer Baseley warned him: "you're subject to arrest for obstructing, now leave." Report of Proceedings at 72.

Although Lockhart moved approximately 10 to 15 feet away, he continued yelling so loudly that the officers were unable to hear each other or the responses of the person who had been holding the bottle of beer. Officer McGlashan testified that throughout Officer Baseley's confrontation with Lockhart, his investigation of the open container offense was interrupted several times, explaining: "[Lockhart] was so loud I could not hear the responses from the person I was handling or dealing with. I, I found myself repeating myself several times and he could not hear my questions either." Report of Proceedings at 36. Officer Baseley again warned Lockhart: "you need to leave, you need to get out of here or you're going to get yourself arrested for obstructing." Report of Proceedings at 73.

Despite the warning, Lockhart continued yelling. When the officers concluded that they could not continue with the investigation, they arrested Lockhart. Following Lockhart's arrest, Officer McGlashan completed his investigation of the open container offense and issued a citation.

On September 1, 1993, the City of Seattle charged Lockhart with one count of obstructing a public officer in violation of SMC sec.12.16.010(A)(5). *fn2 The case was tried to a jury. Although Lockhart testified that he was unaware that Officers McGlashan and Baseley were police officers, and that he was not asked to leave prior to his arrest, he was found guilty as charged. His appeal to the Superior Court was certified to this court, which accepted discretionary review.

Discussion

I. Obstruction of a Public Officer

Lockhart contends that his conviction for obstructing a public officer must be reversed because the ordinance under which he was convicted, SMC sec.12A.16.010(A)(5), is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. He argues first that SMC sec.12A.16.010(A)(5) is unconstitutionally overbroad because it criminalizes the refusal to leave the scene of a police investigation when remaining at the scene is necessary to verbally challenge and observe police conduct. He next argues that the ordinance is unconstitutionally vague on its face because: (1) it allows the police unfettered discretion to require a bystander to leave the scene of an investigation; and (2) it fails to define "'scene of an investigation of a crime.'" This court recently considered and rejected each of these same arguments in City of Seattle v. Abercrombie, 1997 WL 115394 (Wash. App. Div. I). Because we addressed these same issues in Abercrombie, we need not repeat the lengthy ...


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