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Hopson v. Asch

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT


decided: March 14, 1972.

ELLA HOPSON, APPELLANT,
v.
KARL ASCH, COUNTY PROSECUTOR, UNION COUNTY, NEW JERSEY AND GEORGE F. KUGLER, JR., ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, APPELLEES

Adams and James Rosen, Circuit Judges, and Stapleton, District Judge.

Author: Per Curiam

Opinion OF THE COURT

This is an appeal from an order of the district court dismissing the complaint filed by appellant, Ella Hopson.*fn1

Ella Hopson was indicted on two counts. The first count charged her with inciting an assault upon a police officer of the City of Linden, New Jersey, on September 19, 1968, contrary to the provisions of N.J.S. 2A:148-10(b). The second count alleged Ella Hopson committed an assault and battery upon the same police officer on the same occasion in violation of N.J.S. 2A:90-4(a).*fn2

Appellant was convicted on the first count, N.J.S. 2A:148-10(b) and acquitted on the second count, N.J.S. 2A:90-4(a). Her appeal from the conviction is pending in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division.*fn3 After she was convicted but prior to appeal, Ella Hopson filed a complaint in the district court seeking to permanently enjoin the enforcement of N.J.S. 2A:148-10 and a declaratory judgment determining that the statute is violative of the Constitution of the United States.

In her complaint she alleges N.J.S. 2A:148-10 is void and unconstitutional on its face in that the statute (a) violates the fundamental guarantees of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom of thought and freedom of belief, and the freedom of citizens to petition their government for a redress of grievances, all of which are guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments, (b) is overly broad and vague and its overbroad sweep has a chilling effect upon the exercise of rights guaranteed to all citizens by the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and (c) violates the guarantees of due process contained in the Fourteenth Amendment in that its provisions are vague and indefinite and fail to meet the requirement of certainty in statutes which are enforced by criminal sanctions.

The recent cases of Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 91 S. Ct. 746, 27 L. Ed. 2d 669 (1971) and Samuels v. Mackell, 401 U.S. 66, 91 S. Ct. 764, 27 L. Ed. 2d 688 (1971) are dispositive of appellant's arguments. The national policy forbids federal courts to stay or enjoin pending state court proceedings except under special circumstances, Younger. Declaratory relief is also improper when a prosecution involving the challenged statute is pending in a state court at the time the federal suit is instituted, Samuels. We do not find any facts or circumstances which would remove this case from the general rule. The language in Fenner v. Boykin, 271 U.S. 240, 244, 46 S. Ct. 492, 493, 70 L. Ed. 927 (1926) cited in Younger is appropriate:

"The accused should first set up and rely upon his defense in the state courts, even though this involves a challenge of the validity of some statute, unless it plainly appears that this course would not afford protection." (emphasis supplied)

We are satisfied that the complaint does not disclose a bad faith state prosecution or harassment by the prosecutor.*fn4

The order of the district court dated December 11, 1970 is affirmed.


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