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Sunday, October 21, 2007

'Lingerer' Asks NYC Court to Drop Case

NEW YORK (AP) — 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 confab with friends in Times Square has asked the state's highest court to dismiss the case. The Court of Appeals heard arguments in Albany Wednesday and could rule next month.

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 wouldn't 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 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' behavior stood out "amid the inevitable hustle and bustle of Times Square."

Prosecutors' arguments drew several questions Wednesday from judges — including Chief Judge Judith Kaye, who wondered aloud how bustling Times Square was when Jones was arrested around 2 a.m.

"I guess I'm not in Times Square at 2 a.m. very often," Kaye said.

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