Ohio Court Throws Out Rap Group’s Disorderly Conduct Conviction
CINCINNATI (AP) _ A state appeals court has cleared members of the rap group NWA of a disorderly conduct conviction they received after a June 1989 concert at Riverfront Coliseum.
Three members of the Los Angeles-based group had been convicted in Hamilton County Municipal Court. But the 1st Ohio District Court of Appeals threw out the convictions Wednesday, ruling that the entertainers did not break the law when they asked women in the audience if they wanted to have sex.
The appeals court ruled that the requests, made onstage during the concert, did not break the law because they likely did not inconvenience, annoy or alarm anyone.
All five members of NWA were charged after police said their remarks were obscene. The three members involved in Wednesday’s ruling - Lorenzo ″MC Ren″ Patterson, Oshea ″Ice Cube″ Jackson and Todd ″Too-Short″ Shaw - were convicted by Judge Harry McIlwain and fined $100 each.
During the trial, both sides agreed that NWA asked women in the audience if they wanted to have sex with rapper Eric ″Eazy-E″ Wright. But the defense argued that language did not constitute the kind of ″fighting words″ required for a disorderly conduct conviction.
H. Louis Sirkin, the group’s attorney, also argued that NWA’s comments were protected free speech under the First Amendment.
The appeals court skipped the constitutional issues and reversed the case on the evidence. Ohio law says disorderly conduct must ″recklessly cause inconvenience, annoyance or alarm.″
″We’re thrilled,″ Jerry Heller, NWA’s manager, said of the decision. Heller said NWA members are busy in a Canoga Park, Calif., studio recording two albums.