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COMMONWEALTH v. GREENE (03/19/63)

March 19, 1963

COMMONWEALTH
v.
GREENE, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 30, Jan. T., 1963, from judgment of Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace of Franklin County, May T., 1962, No. 111, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Charles C. Greene. Judgment reversed.

COUNSEL

Thomas H. Crider, for appellant.

Jay L. Benedict, Jr., District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Before Bell, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'brien and Roberts, JJ.

Author: Musmanno

[ 410 Pa. Page 112]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

Charles C. Greene was accused and convicted of the crime of disorderly conduct because he owned, maintained

[ 410 Pa. Page 113]

    and operated in Greene Township, Franklin County, a Go-Kart race track one-eighth of a mile in length. The vehicles engaging in the races were the familiar small four-wheeled children's cars, propelled by diminutive gasoline engines. Whether the running of races of this character violated the Act of 1939, June 24, P.L. 872, § 406, 18 P.S. § 4406, is the question in this case.

The crucial portion of that Act reads: "Whoever wilfully makes or causes to be made any loud, boisterous and unseemly noise or disturbance to the annoyance of the peaceable residents near by, or near to any public highway, road, street, lane, alley, park, square, or common, whereby the public peace is broken or disturbed or the traveling public annoyed, is guilty of the offense of disorderly conduct."

It must be noted that noise, which was parctically the entire substance of the accusation in this case must, under the Act, if it is to constitute disorderly conduct, be loud, boisterous and unseemly. It is admitted that motor propelled go-karts traveling at a speed of approximately 30 to 35 miles per hour make a loud and boisterous noise. Is that noise also unseemly? Something is unseemly when it is not fitting or proper in respect to the conventional standards of organized society or a legally constituted community.

A typical case of unseemly conduct occurred in Commonwealth ex rel. Jenkins v. Costello, 141 Pa. Superior Ct. 183. The defendant who was driving his automobile in front of another car, suddenly pulled it around so as to block the passage of the second motorist. He jumped out of his car, ran over to the second motorist and threatened to punch his nose, accompanying this nasal pugilistic threat with loud and vile name-calling, "attracting the attention of persons nearby." The Superior Court said that this conduct was a "loud, boisterous and unseemly disturbance to

[ 410 Pa. Page 114]

    the annoyance of peaceable residents, as well as to the persons near a public highway," and made out "a ...


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