U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Obstruction of Governmental Administration
Failure to Respond to Police Questioning
Uzoukwu v. Krawiecki
Judges Winter, Pooler and Sack
Background: The pro se plaintiff appealed from an order that dismissed his claims against the defendant alleging false arrest and excessive force, after a jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant.
Ruling: The Second Circuit vacated and remanded. The court noted that, during jury deliberations, the jury had asked whether the refusal to acknowledge or respond to police questions is considered obstruction of governmental administration. The court answered that such conduct alone, without more, would not constitute the offence, but that such a determination would depend on the totality of the circumstances as the jury finds them. The Second Circuit found the court’s response to be prejudicial as New York law unambiguously holds that one cannot obstruct governmental administration by merely refusing to answer police questions or to provide identification as this conduct is constitutionally protected and the offense requires a physical or independently unlawful act.
Afam Uzoukwu, pro se; Pamela Seider Dolgow, corporation counsel, for the appellees