In the Matter of T.T.E., __ N.C. __

There is a dissent.
  • Facts: T.T.E threw a chair in the school cafeteria during a period when students can receive tutoring and relax in the cafeteria. The chair did not hit anyone or anything. T.T.E. ran out of the cafeteria after throwing the chair. The School Resource Officer (SRO) was in the cafeteria and saw T.T.E. throw the chair. He followed T.T.E. out of the cafeteria, caught up to him, grabbed him from behind and instructed T.T.E to come with him. T.T.E. told the SRO “no.” The SRO then brought T.T.E. to the school lobby and searched him, at which time T.T.E. cursed at the SRO and other students began to get involved, yelling at the SRO. T.T.E. subsequently told the SRO that he had thrown the chair at his brother in the course of playing. He was adjudicated delinquent for disorderly conduct and resisting a public officer.


  • History: The Court of Appeals vacated the adjudication and disposition orders, 818 S.E.2d 324 (2018), holding that the juvenile’s motion to dismiss based on insufficiency of the evidence should have been granted.  The decision related to the adjudication for resisting a public officer was a unanimous decision by the Court of Appeals. However, the panel was divided regarding the sufficient of the evidence to support the adjudication for disorderly conduct.


  • Opinion: The petition followed the “true and safe rule” by closely tracking the language of G.S. 14-288.4, alleging that the juvenile engaged in disorderly conduct. The juvenile was clearly apprised of the charges against him because the petition tracked the language of G.S. 14-288.4 with sufficient specificity. The court therefore had subject matter jurisdiction in the matter.

In determining whether the evidence was sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss the charge of disorderly conduct, the Court must view the evidence in the light mist favorable to the State and give the State the benefit of every reasonable inference. Under this standard of review, substantial evidence was presented that T.T.E. perpetrated an “annoying, disturbing, or alarming act…exceeding the bounds of social toleration normal for” the school through a public disturbance by “engaging in violent conduct” by “throwing a chair toward another student in the school’s cafeteria.” Slip. Op. at 15. The evidence included that: (1) the juvenile threw a chair at his brother across the cafeteria where other students were present, (2) the juvenile then ran through the school’s hallways, (3) the behavior occurred at a time when other students were able to observe the hallway interaction between T.T.E. and the SRO, (4) the juvenile cursed at the deputy while being searched, (5) other students became involved in yelling and cursing at the SRO, to the point that another student was also handcuffed and arrested, (6) the SRO considered the act of throwing the chair to be conduct that disrupted or disturbed the school, and (7) another school faculty member described the circumstances as a significant safety issue as other students gravitated to the situation.

 When viewed in the light most favorable to the State, the evidence presented was sufficient to deny a motion to dismiss regarding adjudication for disorderly conduct.

  •  Dissent: The evidence was not sufficient to support an adjudication for disorderly conduct. In order to be sufficient, the evidence, when considered in the light most favorable to the State, must be substantial evidence from which a rational trier of fact could find beyond a reasonable doubt that T.T.E. intentionally caused a public disturbance by engaging in violent conduct. The petition alleged that the juvenile engaged in disorderly conduct by throwing a chair toward another student in the cafeteria. The only evidence specific to the throwing of the chair was the SRO’s testimony. Viewed in the light most favorable to the State, the SRO’s testimony can be fairly said to raise a suspicion that the juvenile engaged in violent conduct. However, based on the evidence presented specifically about throwing the chair, any rational trier of fact could not find beyond a reasonable doubt that T.T.E. intentionally threw a chair in a manner that constituted violent conduct in order to cause a public disturbance. The evidence regarding events after the chair was thrown is relevant to the adjudication of resisting a public officer, which was previously unanimously vacated. It is irrelevant to the question of whether T.T.E. engaged in disorderly conduct--intentionally causing a public disturbance by engaging in violent conduct by throwing a chair toward another student in the cafeteria.
Criminal Offenses
Disorderly Conduct at School
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