HELENA- Allison Chapman was fed up that night, fed up with teenagers routinely driving the streets of Geraldine playing loud music on their car stereos into the late hours.
But his attempt to discourage the practice was disorderly conduct, for which he was rightly convicted, the Montana Supreme Court has ruled.
A five-judge panel said Tuesday that Chapman's effort to disperse a carful of teens from a public road in front of his house by shouting at them to get out of his town was a crime. Chapman was wrong in arguing that no one's peace was disturbed by his actions, the court said.
Chapman admitted he went into the street on the night of Oct. 18, 2001, and scolded Nicholas Scribner and three other area youths in a parked car.
He said the kids "spend most every night driving around the town of Geraldine with their car stereos thumping," while Chapman was trying to sleep.
He said he told the youths, "You can't come into this town and drive around all night disturbing people. I just called the police. You're going to jail tonight."
Chapman, who denied shouting or yelling, said he used an expletive to order the teens to leave town.
Three of the children testified that Chapman did yell at him and they were scared as they drove away. Prosecutors said Chapman's use of threatening conduct and language is not speech protected by the constitution and was rightly considered disorderly conduct.
Chapman contended that, since no argument, fight or confrontation was involved, he could not be guilty of a crime.
But the Supreme Court disagreed.
"Because this (event) established a disturbance of the status quo for those three individuals, we conclude it was sufficient to support a jury finding that Chapman was guilty of disorderly conduct," Chief Justice Karla Gray wrote.