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In re Welfare of T.L.S.

May 9, 2006

IN THE MATTER OF THE WELFARE OF: T.L.S.


Ramsey County District Court File Nos. J2-03-551920 & J7-05-550315.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

Police have probable cause to arrest for a violation of the disorderly conduct statute when the statute is applied to punish the manner by which constitutionally protected speech is delivered and the disorderly nature of the speech does not depend on its content.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ross, Judge

Affirmed

Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge; Minge, Judge; and Ross, Judge.

OPINION

In this appeal from an adjudication of delinquency on one count of possession of a dangerous weapon, appellant T.L.S. contends that the district court erroneously denied her motion to suppress the knife that officers found when they searched her purse. T.L.S. maintains that because the arresting officers lacked probable cause to arrest her, and because the offenses for which they might have had probable cause do not permit a custodial arrest, the search violated her constitutional rights. We affirm.

FACTS

Two St. Paul police officers responded to a call from Area Learning Center (ALC) about a former student who was acting disorderly and refusing to leave the school building. That former student, appellant T.L.S., went to ALC seeking readmission, and a school administrator told her that she had been transferred to another school. T.L.S. became upset and began yelling. A school administrator asked T.L.S. to leave, but she refused. The administrator warned T.L.S. that if she did not leave, he would call the police. T.L.S. still refused.

When uniformed police officers arrived, the school administrator directed them to T.L.S. They found her in the school administrative office. T.L.S. responded to the officers by declaring that she was not going to leave. An officer ordered T.L.S. to leave the building and warned that if she refused, she would be taken into custody and delivered to the truancy center. T.L.S. said that she wanted to call her mother. She ignored the instruction to leave and picked up a telephone. One of the officers took the telephone from T.L.S., and T.L.S. began shouting profanities. As the district court would later find, T.L.S. "was shrieking at the officer," and the noise was "disruptive to the running of the school and purposes of the school." T.L.S. continued to refuse to leave, so the officers seized her and escorted her from the building.

T.L.S.'s "loud shrieking" continued, and she shouted profanities at the officers as they removed her. Outside, the officers tried unsuccessfully to calm her. T.L.S.'s hostility continued, and the officers handcuffed her. T.L.S. refused to identify herself upon the officers' request, shouting, "You dumb mother f - - - ing b - - - h ass cop you figure it out since you know every f - - - ing thing!" The officers placed T.L.S. in a patrol car, searched her purse, and found a seven-inch steak knife.

The state filed a juvenile-delinquency petition charging T.L.S. with possession of a dangerous weapon on school property, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.66, subd. 1d(a) (2004), and disorderly conduct, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.72, subd. 1(3) (2004). T.L.S. moved to suppress admission of the knife, but the district court denied the motion. The state and T.L.S. agreed to submit the case to the court for a decision on the merits based on the testimony presented at the suppression hearing and on the documentary record. The district court found T.L.S. delinquent for possession of a dangerous weapon on school property, acquitted her of the disorderly conduct charge, and placed her on supervised probation. This appeal follows.

ISSUE

Did the district court err by denying T.L.S.'s motion to suppress evidence seized during a search incident to arrest for disorderly conduct, when probable cause for the misdemeanor violation is based on the manner of delivering ...


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