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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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…

  4. 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.

  5. The kid’s lucky nobody shot him. Where’s Raylan Givens when you really need him.

  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 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Well vendetta… You do it and see what happens…. I dare ya….

  10. For the aficionados……… It’s kinda like hollering fire in a theater….

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

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