Commonwealth v. Muhammad, No. 690 MDA 2022 (Pa. Sup. Ct.) January 11, 2023.
Muhammad was convicted of disorderly conduct stemming from an explosion of vulgarity and noise when she attempted to enter a county courthouse without a required mask.
Muhammad succeeded in obtaining reversal of the conviction, arguing that her use of vulgarity did not mean that the standards of obscenity ink the state statute, which conforms to the standards established concerning sexually offensive language.
The Pennsylvania Superior Court concluded that non-sexual offensive and disrespectful words do not meet the statutory standards for disorderly conduct. Pennsylvania precedent compels this conclusion. Moreover, the Commonwealth agreed with Muhammad’s view.
Notwithstanding their decision, a separate concurrence acknowledged the force of controlling precedent but implored the legislature to address the issue, and noting that Muhammad “deserves to be penalized for the public use of explicit, offensive language directed at Luzerne County deputies in the courthouse annex, a place where the rule of law is sacrosanct.” Slip op. Concurrence, p. 1.