When does lingering to chat become illegal?

Standing around to chat on a busy Manhattan street can certainly create an inconvenience for other pedestrians. But is it illegal?

A man arrested after a conversation with friends in bustling Times Square in New York City has asked the state’s highest court to dismiss the case. The Court of Appeals heard arguments in Albany on Wednesday and could rule next month, the New York Times reported in its Thursday editions.

Matthew Jones was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest—by flailing his arms—on June 12 2004.
Police said other people “had to walk around” him, and he would not move when asked.

The Brooklyn man pleaded guilty to a violation after spending a night in jail, but he later appealed. Courts have upheld his arrest so far.

His lawyer, Nancy E Little, said on Wednesday there was no legal justification for arresting Jones for simply standing on the street.

“You need something more,” she said. “You need to be being verbally abusive, or really blocking lots of people, or lying down on the sidewalk.”

But assistant Manhattan district attorney Paula Rose-Stark said the disorderly conduct arrest was warranted, noting that Jones’s behaviour stood out “amid the inevitable hustle and bustle of Times Square”.—Sapa-AP

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