[I don't want to be drunk in public. I want to be drunk in a bar. You threw me into public.]
At first blush, you might think 'PUBLIC drunkenness?'-- Could there be anything less public than locking yourself in the john to pinch a loaf? According to Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) section 16-41-11, public drunkenness is defined as
"a person who shall be and appear in an intoxicated condition in any public place or within the curtilage of any private residence not his own other than by invitation of the owner or lawful occupant, which condition is made manifest by boisterousness, by indecent condition or act, or by vulgar, profane, loud, or unbecoming language. [emphasis added]"The Georgia Sports Blog will now hear the case of People vs. Ian Smith.
[Free Legal Advice Disclaimer: you get what you pay for.] May it please the court: There are two elements of this offense, both of which must be satisfied. There is the "public place" element, and the "made manifest" element.
The "public place" element of the statute is defined in case law to be broadly interpreted as "any place where the defendant's conduct may reasonably be viewed by people other than members of the defendant's family or household." (281 F3d 1346). Though it pushes the limits of the definition of "public", for the sake or argument, I'll spot you a the public place element. However...
[If he gave no lip, you must acquit.]
Merely being drunk in a public place does not constitute a violation of the statute because an "outward manifestation" must be shown. To convict, not only shall the defendant appear intoxicated in a public place, but the defendant shall also have also committed one of the "bad acts" enumerated in the statute. Being locked in and passed out on the shitter (even in a restaurant) does not constitute boisterousness, vulgarity, profanity, or unbecoming language within the meaning of the statute. (134 Ga. App. 820).
In fact, mere drunkenness manifested by extreme stupor or deep sleep is not a violation of state law. Id. A particularly ingredious dump may indeed be vulgar and offensive, but it was not the legislative intent of the General Assembly to include taking the browns to the super bowl within the enumerated manifestations or drunken conduct.
Pity the Fourth Amendment and the various contortions to which the noble amendment has been subjected. From said noble amendment's penumbras and emanations a so-called 'right to privacy' has been extracted. Assuming the right to privacy exists, if the right to privacy means anything it certainly means the right to be free from having ACCPD bash the door in with a hammer while you drop the kids off at the pool, no? So, not only has the state failed to prove both elements of the offense, the application of the statute to this particular set of facts is arguably unconstitutional.
What Athens-Clarke County needs is a level-headed law enforcement official to temper the giddiness of all the Deputy Fifes running around town. God bless Sheriff Andy Taylor for knowing how to handle imbibers. Would it kill the Athens police to give Ian a key to a cell and allow him to check himself out in the morning with his dignity and a headache?
[Ian, would it have killed you to light a match?]
Georgia Sports Blog finds Ian "Tater Salad" Smith not guilty. We are adjourned.
Georgia Sports Blog Legal Department