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Shepardizing Cases

Facts of the Case

Sondra Murray who is the defendant in the case was arrested on February 14, 1987, together with her friend Andre Roy (Batchelder, 1992). The two of them were leaving a date on the evening of the said day when the Exeter police for erratic driving stopped Roy and the use of a revoked license. Roy was then arrested. During the arrest, Murray was in the passenger seat of the car. At one point, she shouted something to the police who were arresting Roy although she did not hinder the activity. Murray had no identification card, and therefore the police could not let her drive the car. She shouted some vulgar words at the police, which warranted for her arrest. During the arrest, her arm was twisted in a way that broke it above the elbow. Sergeant Kate, the police who was arresting her, later confiscated her purse where she found a small amount of marijuana in a closed film canister. Murray was arrested on the claim of causing public nuisance and being in possession of marijuana.

The Charge of Disorderly Behavior against Ms Murray

Ms Murray was charged with disorderly conduct. The complaint was that she purposely caused a breach of peace, which led to public inconvenience and annoyance with her loud unreasonable noises in a public place. Ms Murray uttered some vulgar words during the arrest of her driver which the police claim could have disrupted the peace of the public. Ms Murray in her response to the state supreme court stated that the only people who were affected by the noise were the two officers, who were not within the ambit of the New Hampshire statute’s protection. She also claimed that whether the officers were affected by the noise in a way to cause any inconvenience, annoyance or alarm had to be proven and not presumed.  Since the court could not prove whether the people who were in their homes were affected by the noise, the defendant claimed that the statute was unconstitutionally vague. The state was unable to prove the violation beyond a reasonable doubt.

Ms Murray was also convicted for the possession of marijuana. In her defense, she stated that the marijuana was illegally obtained and therefore it should have been suppressed. The state protects individuals from the seizure of their private property without a warrant supported by an oath or affirmation. The court concluded that the search was not necessary as the content of Ms Murray’s purse did not pose any threat to the welfare of the police officers or aid her escape. Ms Murray in her defense also stated that the arrest, which employed unconstitutionally excessive force, led to the confiscation of her purse.

The Response of the Court

The court concluded that there was no disturbance of peace because of disorderly behavior. The two police officers who were arresting Ms Murray were the only witnesses to the vulgar words she said, and it did not appear as if any other person was disturbed. Therefore, the offense was not proven. The court made this decision based on the Model Penal Code of New Hampshire Commission, which stated that a person is guilty of disorderly conduct when he or she makes unreasonable noises on purpose to cause public annoyance, alarm, or inconvenience. For this statute, the police officers were not members of the public. In the case, the policeman’s peace and quiet were allegedly disturbed, and the law indicates that in that case, the police had two roles to serve, that of a victim and a judge because the arrest is a sanction in itself. Secondly, the court established that hostility to police officers rests in part on a feeling that the arrest reflects the personal sensibilities of the police as opposed to the vindication of the public interest. Thirdly, the role of a police officer often involves dealing with people who are outraged, unruly, and unrefined. Finally, when disorderly behavior provokes violence in others, well-trained police officers should exercise a high degree of restraint as compared to an average citizen who is likely to respond to fighting words.

Shepardizing the Case

When shepardizing this case online, the first step would be to select a database, which has its details and can be accessed quickly. The primary ones would be either be LexisNexis database or Westlaw (LexisNexis, 2011).  In this case, I would use the LexisNexis database out of personal preference. The database will automatically produce a report indicating every opinion to the case. It will also contain a Shepard’s report that has been produced automatically in response to the query. The report often contains all the cases that have cited this one of Ms Murray against the state. The Shepard’s signal marker will indicate how other cases have treated this one and identify if there is any negative treatment to the case. When it is a negative treatment, the signal marker displays in a red warning sign, a yellow sign or an orange box with letter ‘Q’ in it shows a caution sign (LexisNexis, 2008). All the citations with a negative treatment are to be read carefully. The court analysis and holding are the two elements that affect the law in this case. All the propositions that cite the case are valid and must be the most recent ones. In case they are not available, then a new search for a case that supports the argument in the case is necessary.

References

Batchelder, J. (1992, March 20). State v Murray. Retrieved from Leagle.com: http://www.leagle.com/decision/1992504135NH369_1450.xml/STATE%20v.%20MURRAY

LexisNexis. (2008). Shepardizing Only on the Lexis Nexis Services. Retrieved from LexisNexis: http://www.lexisnexis.com/documents/LawSchoolTutorials/20081015085048_large.pdf

LexisNexis. (2011). Shepardizing Gets Even Easier on Lexis Advance. Retrieved from Lexis Advance: http://www.lexisnexis.com/documents/pdf/20120111042317_large.pdf

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