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Day v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

March 15, 2016

Michael Day, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

          Appeal from the Franklin Circuit Court. The Honorable Clay M. Kellerman, Judge. Trial Court Cause No. 24C02-1501-CM-70.

         ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: Joel C. Wieneke Wieneke, Law Office, LLC, Plainfield, Indiana.

         ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana; J.T. Whitehead, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

         Robb, Judge. Altice, J., concurs. Baker, J., dissents with opinion.

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         Robb, Judge.

         Case Summary and Issue

         [¶1] Following a bench trial, Michael Day was convicted of disorderly conduct as a Class B misdemeanor. Day appeals his conviction, raising the sole issue of whether the evidence is sufficient to support the conviction. Concluding the evidence is sufficient, we affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History[1]

         [¶2] In January 2015, Day resided with his wife, M.D., and their two minor children, C.D. and J.D., in a home in Brookville, Indiana. Because of problems in the marriage and frequent arguments, the couple decided a divorce was necessary. M.D. described the couple's " fighting" as " name calling." Transcript at 6. A majority of the couple's recent frustrations existed because the couple agreed to sell the marital home, but Day wanted to list the house with a realtor and M.D. wanted to speak to an attorney before taking any action.

         [¶3] On January 17, M.D. and J.D. were returning home from the movies when M.D. received a phone call from Day. When M.D. answered, Day said, " You f***ing bitch. I ought to kill you." Id. at 8. M.D. immediately hung up the phone and continued toward home. After arriving home, M.D. made a snack for the children as they watched television in the living room; Day was not home. M.D. had to work the next morning, so she went to her bedroom and left the boys in the living room; the living room was located just outside the bedroom. Shortly thereafter, M.D. awoke to Day shouting out in the living room: " Where is your mother? Where is your mother?" Id. at 10. Day entered the bedroom and began " screaming at the top of his lungs . . . 'You f***ing bitch. You will sign these papers for the house.'" Id. Day was extremely angry and approached M.D. as she remained in bed. M.D. could smell alcohol on Day's breath.

         [¶4] M.D. begged Day not to yell in front of the children, who were still in the living room. Day did not stop, and at some point, Day spit in M.D.'s face and then left the room. Fearful for her safety, M.D. called 911. After M.D. got off the phone with the 911 operator,[2] Day went upstairs and continued screaming. At this point, M.D. went to comfort her children who were " out on the couch crying, upset, scared . . . ." Id. at 16. Next, M.D. entered the kitchen where she was cornered by Day. Day said to M.D., " If you'd just sign the papers this would all be over with." Id. Thinking it was taking too long for the police to arrive, M.D. called 911 again; Day " just continued to yell." Id. at 17.

         [¶5] Franklin County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Strait and Sergeant Greg Melhbauer were dispatched to Day's residence. After exiting his vehicle, Deputy Strait looked through the home's glass front door and observed Day cornering

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M.D.; Day had his finger in M.D.'s face. While outside, Deputy Strait could hear Day screaming. After gaining entry to the house, Deputy Strait and Sergeant Melhbauer separated Day and M.D., and Day was arrested.

         [¶6] On January 28, 2015, the State charged Day with disorderly conduct as a Class B misdemeanor, alleging Day engaged in fighting and/or tumultuous conduct under Indiana Code section 35-45-1-3. At trial, the State called M.D. and Deputy Strait as its only witnesses. The State also admitted the 911 audio recordings. At the conclusion of the State's evidence, Day moved for an acquittal, arguing the State did not meet its burden in proving he committed disorderly conduct. The trial court denied Day's motion, and Day subsequently testified in his own defense. Day admitted to screaming at M.D. and calling her a " f***ing bitch," but denied ever getting in her face, spitting in her face, or physically attacking her in any other way. Id. at 49. At the conclusion of the evidence, the trial court found Day guilty, stating, " If somebody won't sign . . . papers in a divorce, the answer isn't to come home and to get in a verbal altercation or be hostile, which absolutely . . . can be fighting . . . ." Tr. at 67. This appeal ensued.

         Discussion and Decision

         [¶7] Day contends the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction for disorderly conduct because the State failed to prove Day disrupted the public. Day claims the legislature, in enacting Indiana's disorderly conduct statute, intended to require a component of disrupting the public before one can be convicted of disorderly conduct. We disagree.

         I. Statutory Interpretation

         A. Standard of Review

         [¶8] Statutory interpretation is a question of law and is reviewed de novo. Fight Against Brownsburg Annexation v. Town of Brownsburg, 32 N.E.3d 798, 806 (Ind.Ct.App. 2015).

Our primary goal in interpreting statutes is to determine and give effect to the Legislature's intent. The best evidence of that intent is a statute's text. The first step is therefore to decide whether the Legislature has spoken clearly and unambiguously on the point in question. When a statute is clear and unambiguous, we must apply the plain and ordinary meaning of the language. There is no need to resort to any other rules of statutory construction. As a result, we need not delve into legislative history if no ambiguity exists.
But a statute is ambiguous when it admits of more than one reasonable interpretation. In that case, we resort to the rules of statutory construction so as to give effect to the Legislature's intent. For example, we read the statute as a whole, avoiding excessive reliance on a strict, literal meaning or the selective reading of individual words. ...

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