Judge Sentences Teen To Avoid Saying “Bingo” For Six Months

SampleBingoCardFor the white-topped, Dauber-clutching Bingo set, Austin Whaley, 18, was a notorious outlaw and brigand. During a game of Bingo in Covington, Kentucky, Whaley was arrested for the prank of calling out Bingo . . . and he was not even playing. Yes, thrill crimes had come to Covington and this roaming gang of youths left a room in shock and disgust. Fortunately, Park Hills Police Sgt. Richard Webster was present and arrested the Bingo Bandit. Kenton District Judge Douglas Grothaus then handed down a sentence that left the boy speechless, well partially speechless.

Whaley was charged with second-degree disorderly conduct for crying out Bingo. One could easily fashion a defense that yelling out such a word does not even fit disorderly conduct and was merely a joke. The law itself is written in an ambiguous fashion that characterizes this type of charge:

525.060 Disorderly conduct in the second degree.
(1) A person is guilty of disorderly conduct in the second degree when in a public place and with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm, or wantonly creating a risk thereof, he:
(a) Engages in fighting or in violent, tumultuous, or threatening behavior;
(b) Makes unreasonable noise;
(c) Refuses to obey an official order to disperse issued to maintain public safety in dangerous proximity to a fire, hazard, or other emergency; or
(d) Creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act that serves no legitimate purpose.

Presumably, this fell under making “unreasonable noise” even though words are not generally construed as “noise.” I would hope that it is not creating an “hazardous or phyiscally offensive condition” among the Bingoists. I am not sure how bad the organized youth crime is in Covington, but I would have thought that a call to their parents would have sufficed in most cases. He is lucky he was not found in an alley covered in scooter tire marks and little red dots.

Yet, Whaley was either found guilty or pleaded guilty and Grothaus ordered Whaley not to say the word Bingo for six months.

I am afraid that I am unsure of the basis for the arrest. Webster was working security that night and seems to have a vague notion of Oliver Wendell Holmes’ decision in Schenck v. United States: “Just like you can’t run into a theater and yell ‘fire’ when it’s not on fire, you can’t run into a crowded bingo hall and yell ‘bingo’ when there isn’t one.”

I supposed yelling Bingo in a room of geriatrics in a hall can be analogized but generally does not produce stampeding deaths or public panic. Beyond a case of vapors or swearing about “kids today,” it is a fairly harmless prank that even Webster admitted only delayed the game by a couple minutes.

As for Grothaus’ sentence, it is another case of a novel sentencing, though it is harmless in comparison to some that we have discussed. I have previously written about the dangers of such “novel” sentencing in judges using their courtrooms for entertainment or self-aggrandizement. In this case, Grothaus’s ability to banish words from the lexicon of citizens is doubtful, but I doubt any one will object.

Source: CBS

37 thoughts on “Judge Sentences Teen To Avoid Saying “Bingo” For Six Months

  1. This seems constitutionally overbroad. Why didn’t the kid get an attorney, and then (once the charge was dismissed) sue the cop under Section 1983? I can think of two such cases I had when I was back in private practice (both involving anti-war demonstrators) who were arrested for the content of their message (one got a ticket for disorderly conduct for the language on his sign, the other for obscenity for language on what, to the best of my recollection, was also on a sign). I filed a motion to dismiss on First Amendment grounds in both cases, and then in both cases sued the naughty cops (the municipalities’ insurers settled in both cases, having to cough up some good dosh that was promptly donated to charity.

    Seems to me that the cop arrested the kid for protected behavior.

  2. Better yet take a cue from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado and have him play bingo in a hall of deaf players. Or have him run the bingo game himself with others calling out false bingos.

  3. If this has occurred in the basement of a Baptist church the kid would have been instantly smited and permanently daubed by Jebus…… or ten octogenarians and their canes.

  4. I’m going to vote in the anonymous attorney and G.Mason columns this morning.

    And have you ever tried to get the dog to lay down on your card long enough to get the score verified? It’s a huge pain in the ass.

  5. I use to work bingo at the Catholic high school in town when my daughters were there and those bingo players get very angry if anyone screws with their bingo game. I wouldn’t want to mess with some of those players, let alone the police.

  6. Gene wrote:
    And have you ever tried to get the dog to lay down on your card long enough to get the score verified? It’s a huge pain in the ass.

    Not the mention the trouble of always having to borrow the dog from the farmer every weekend.

  7. I went to bingo places with my dad a number of years ago. No one cleared their card until the bingo was verified. All that was needed was to ask the kid to leave.

    overreaction by the cop and the judge.

  8. Guys, the courts and the cops ran off the rails years back. Now and then a little clip comes to light (now, more than then) that makes this very clear. But in little and big ways, thanks to morons, punks, hostile overcontrolling abusers, etc. (with badges, with gavels, in uniforms, in robes, etc.), what we imagine is freedom in this country is morphing, before our very eyes, into something quite monstrous. Is it entertainment? Well then, enjoy it while you can.

    It looks like somebody put a curse on big areas of our government and our country and it looks like the curse is working…

  9. Bettykath:

    Jesus. This should have been a training video at the academy to train other rookies how not to behave in front of their Field Training Officer.

    She starts off her performance by standing in front of the door, with a window in fact, pounding continually on the door. Talk about officer safety risk! Every officer knows you stand off to the side. But she does it anyway and then chews out one of the guys for not opening the door, for her own safety.

    If she was so gravely concerned about the door then why was it still closed after she hooked them up and then continued to stand, you guessed it, in front of the door.

    Especially since she says she can see them hiding inside. All she wanted was for them to keep the door open so she could do a visual search of the house and got angry and affronted when the two guys did not consent, so she cuffed him.

    If she and her sergeant were so afraid of the situation they could have had the two guys walk out to the side walk away from the nefarious door.

  10. anonymously posted, did you see that it’s an ad for a new tv show?

    Here’s some good news….


    NYCLU Victory Preserves Right to Walk Around Without ID, Take Photos on NYC Subway

    March 22, 2013 — A federal judge has ruled that a New York City Transit Authority rule requiring people using the city’s transit system to carry ID is unconstitutional. The decision is a victory for the New York Civil Liberties Union, which filed a lawsuit in November, 2011 defending the public’s right to take photographs in the subway system without fear of being arrested or having to show identification to police.

    “This decision is a victory for the freedom of people to walk around free from showing their papers, a core American right,” said NYCLU Staff Attorney Mariko Hirose. “It’s past time for the NYPD to learn about the Constitution and stop harassing and even arresting people for exercising their basic rights.”

    The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on behalf of Steve Barry and Michael Burkhart, railroad enthusiasts and photographers who were unlawfully arrested in August 2010 while taking photos of subway trains at the Broad Channel subway stop in Queens. At the time, they were awaiting the arrival of a vintage subway train on display by the New York Transit Museum. They both were charged with unlawful photography, and Barry was handcuffed and charged with failing to produce ID in violation of a Transit Authority rule.

    The NYCLU successfully argued that a Transit Authority rule requiring people using the city’s transit system to carry ID documents is unconstitutional. Over the last 10 years, 6,542 summonses have been issued to people who failed to provide identification under the ID rule.

  11. “anonymously posted, did you see that it’s an ad for a new tv show? ”


    Yes, I didn. Just what America needs, right?


    OT, and not a surprise:

    Lake Erie Prison Plagued By Violence And Drugs After Corporate Takeover

    Posted: 03/22/2013

    “A new report detailing a state inspection of a private prison in Ohio describes gang-related violence so commonplace and drug use so rampant that many guards are afraid to intervene — instead, they are leaving their jobs at an alarming rate.

    The harrowing report released last month on conditions inside the 1,700-bed Lake Erie Correctional Institution describes a tableau of dysfunction, lending confirmation to two previous audits that identified widespread problems at the facility.

    In interviews with The Huffington Post, current and former correctional officers at the Lake Erie prison confirmed the findings in the state report while describing their own fears about going to work at the institution.

    “It was common for us to speak about who was going to die first,” Paul Reynolds, a former correctional officer at Lake Erie who says he was released last year because of disagreements with CCA management, told HuffPost. “They were afraid to get sued for any little thing, so management basically tied our hands on everything. Within three months, we lost that prison to those inmates.”

    The report’s findings offer ammunition for those decrying the trend toward privatizing prisons — not only in Ohio, but across much of the country — as strapped communities seek to raise revenue and minimize costs by handing control of inmates to profit-making entities. …and the article continues…

  12. Why has no one made the connection between this and the other item today (the public masturbator banned from a library)?

    There’s an easy solution for the judge. Instead of banning Whaley from saying a specific word or giving him jail time: ban Whaley from entering bingo parlours, since that’s where he’s causing the problem. Saying “bingo” on a bus isn’t going to annoy anyone unless he’s shouting it.

  13. bettykath, Blouise and Malisha,

    “The arc of the moral universe is long but bends towards justice.” -MLK (and others)

    Good people working for justice will help to bring it around.

  14. Thanks, Blouise.


    “In 2011, the ACLU of Ohio released a report entitled Prisons For Profit: A Look at Prison Privatization. The report details the history of private prisons in America and concludes that they create many long-term problems for state and local governments. In 2012, Ohio became the first state in the nation to sell a state facility to a private prison company when it sold the Lake Erie Correctional Facility to CCA.” -from the link supplied above, by Blouise


  15. And from the same link:

    “The profit motive drives
    private prison operators to
    pay as little of their fair share
    of state and federal taxes as
    possible, and they often get
    away with shifting the costs
    of their prisons’ failures
    directly onto the backs of
    taxpayers. In 2002, the IRS
    had to sue CCA to get it to
    pay $54 million in back

  16. Question, in the above linked vid by Bettykath a person is arrested for ‘obstructing’ because he refused to open his door so the police could make a visual search. I was not aware that that was a legal request. How can that be different from being asked to allow any other warrantless search of someones domicile? That looks entirely bogus to me but the law has become so parced that a right to privacy and due process is virtually nonexistant and I question the correctness of my reaction.

    The law and its enforcement seems to be increasingly petty toward the untermenchen as the two stories in today’s postings (this one about Bingo and the vid Bettykath posted) illustrate while the ubermenchen, even when caught red-handed, suffer few if any consequences.

  17. Lottakatz

    Generally “obstructing” refers to a law in many states where a person is charged with interfering with the duties of a LEO. Here is an example of such a law:

    RCW 9A.76.020
    Obstructing a law enforcement officer.

    (1) A person is guilty of obstructing a law enforcement officer if the person willfully hinders, delays, or obstructs any law enforcement officer in the discharge of his or her official powers or duties.

    As you can read this law has quite broad applicability. Essentially it is enforced properly when defendants actually prevent LEOs from performing their jobs. For the brother seeing his brother pulled over for a traffic violation and he interferes with the deputy writing out a ticket.

    Unfortunately there have been times when LEOs have in my view abused this which I would say the video above shows. While the courts have allowed prosecutions of obstructing charges based upon persons putting officers at risk and that delays them in enforcing their duties, it clearly is not the case here.

    Asserting a civil right is not sufficient to merit an obstructing charge.

  18. Thanks Darren.

    “Essentially it is enforced properly when defendants actually prevent LEOs from performing their jobs” as opposed to demanding a waiver of rights, one would hope. That kid needs a lawyer.

  19. What’s so disgusting in the video, apart from the actions themselves, is the obvious delight the officer has in the retelling. Since it’s for a tv show, it’s possible the whole thing was staged, maybe to dumb us down and make us more compliant for when the real cops show up.

  20. Bettykath, I had the same fleeting thought. That was a propaganda segment to convey the message that if you exert your rights you get punished, actually, that you don’t really have the right to not comply even when the ‘just cause’ for the demand is not apparent or non-existent. That was a really disturbing video. Good catch and yea, she was just too happy about it. Poor training.

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