[Legal Briefs 

Oregon Court of Appeals Tosses out "Disobeying an Officer" Law

In December 2004, the Oregon Court of Appeals invalidated ORS 162.247(1)(b), which made disobeying a police officer a crime. The law has been used by police officers to arrest protesters who did not obey orders to leave protest rallies. Based on a prior ruling by the Oregon Supreme Court in March 2004 which struck down the disorderly conduct statute as unconstitutionally broad (ORS 166.025(1)--see PPR #32), the Court of Appeals ruled that ORS 162.247(1)(b) was also overly broad.

Both statutes violate the Oregon Constitution because they prohibit the constitutionally protected rights of speech and assembly. A person's continued attendance at a peaceful assembly and refusal to obey an order to disperse is no longer a crime, assuming the person was not engaged in any other illegal activity.

The ruling is a major victory for protesters engaged in peaceful demonstrations, even if their intent is to cause inconvenience to others as a way to express a political point.


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