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Morgan v. State

Supreme Court of Indiana

December 18, 2014

RODREGUS MORGAN, Appellant (Defendant below),
v.
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee (Plaintiff below)

Page 571

Appeal from the Marion Superior Court, No. 49F18-1208-FD-060696. The Honorable Reuben B. Hill, Judge. On Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No. 49A02-1304-CR-00386.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: Suzy D. St. John, Ruth A. Johnson, Indianapolis, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana, George P. Sherman, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

David, Justice. Rush, C.J., Dickson, Rucker, Massa, J.J., concur.

OPINION

Page 572

David, Justice.

Rodregus Morgan was convicted under Indiana's public intoxication statute for being intoxicated in a public place and engaging in annoying conduct. Morgan challenges his conviction on two possible grounds. First, that the Indiana public intoxication statute is unconstitutionally vague. Second, that there was insufficient evidence for his conviction.

Facts and Procedural History

On August 31, 2012, Brycen Garner, a patrol officer with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, was working part-time for the Indygo Bus Service. Officer Garner was responsible for ensuring the health, safety, and welfare of Indygo customers and operators. It was approximately 9:25 a.m. when Officer Garner overheard a man yelling at another man to wake up inside one of the bus shelters. After listening to the yelling for a couple of minutes and seeing the man inside the shelter continue to wake up and doze back off, Officer Garner exited his patrol vehicle, and in full uniform, walked over to the bus shelter to check on the welfare of the man inside. The man asleep inside the bus shelter was later identified as Rodregus Morgan.

When Officer Garner walked into the shelter, the other man present explained that he was trying to wake his brother. Officer Garner tapped on Morgan's shoulder and tried to wake him. Morgan raised his head and stated, " Get off of me." (Tr. at 13.) Officer Garner again tapped Morgan and told him he needed to leave the bus shelter, and repeated this to Morgan again when he did not respond.[1] Morgan seemed agitated to Officer Garner but he did comply and get up from the bench. When Morgan stood, Officer Garner noticed him swaying from side-to-side. Morgan's eyes were bloodshot red and glassy, and Officer Garner smelled alcohol. At that time, Officer Garner placed Morgan under arrest for public intoxication because he believed him to be under the influence of alcohol and an annoyance. After Morgan was placed under arrest, Morgan began yelling and making a great deal of noise. Officer Garner directed him to stop making an unreasonable amount of noise but Morgan continued yelling. Due to this behavior, Officer Garner added disorderly conduct and intimidation to Morgan's arrest form.

Morgan was charged with Count I Class D felony intimidation,[2] Count II Class B misdemeanor public intoxication,[3] and Count III Class B misdemeanor disorderly conduct.[4] Morgan waived his right to a jury trial. At trial, Morgan explained that he suffers from sleep apnea, which causes him to fall asleep frequently during the

Page 573

day and in odd places.[5] While Morgan admitted to consuming alcohol the night before, he claimed that on the morning of August 31st he did not feel drunk nor did he remember being asked to leave the bus shelter by Officer Garner.

The trial court dismissed Count I, intimidation, and found Morgan guilty of Count II, public intoxication, and Count III, disorderly conduct. Morgan received a concurrent sentence for both counts of one hundred and eighty days suspended to probation, except for sixteen days that Morgan would receive credit for time already served.

Morgan appealed his conviction, arguing that the term " annoys" in Indiana's public intoxication statute is unconstitutionally vague, that there was insufficient evidence to sustain his conviction for public intoxication, and that there was insufficient evidence to sustain his conviction for disorderly conduct. The Court of Appeals held that the term " annoys" within Indiana Code § 7.1-5-1-3(a)(4) is unconstitutionally vague and struck that term from the statute. Morgan v. State, 4 N.E.3d 751, 758 (Ind.Ct.App. 2014). The Court of Appeals also held that there was sufficient evidence to uphold Morgan's disorderly conduct conviction.[6] Id. at 760. This Court granted the State's petition to transfer and thereby vacated the Court of Appeals opinion. See Ind. Appellate Rule 58(A).

Standard of Review

A. Constitutionality of a Statute

A constitutional challenge to a statute is reviewed de novo. Lock v. State, 971 N.E.2d 71, 74 (Ind. 2012). However, " [a] challenge to the validity of a statute must overcome a presumption that the statute is constitutional." Brown v. State, 868 N.E.2d 464, 467 (Ind. 2007) (citing State v. Lombardo, 738 N.E.2d 653, 655 (Ind. 2000)). It is the burden of the party challenging the statute to prove ...


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