The 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office has successfully appealed the dismissal of charges against Molly Avion, one of 18 people cited for blocking Interstate 25 during a Black Lives Matter protest last summer.
El Paso County Court Senior Judge Stephen Sletta originally dismissed Avion’s misdemeanor. Sletta found that the state statute used against her — which makes it illegal to obstruct highways — was overly broad in a way that could chill the exercise of First Amendment rights and invite “arbitrary” enforcement.
In District Court Judge G. David Miller’s Nov. 2 ruling, he found “the court must respectfully conclude that the language does not render the statute unconstitutionally vague,” noting, “The average and ordinary citizen is aware that roadways, and interstates in particular, are not venues that are routinely (or in the case of an interstate highway, rarely) obstructed to advance a particular cause or message. Ordinarily, with the exception of heavy traffic, construction or an accident, the reasonable expectation is free, fast, and open travel not punctuated by delays to account for people milling in the street to advance one cause or another.” As a result, Miller ruled “that this statute is also not subject to potential arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.”
According to Public Information Officer Howard Black, “The finding of unconstitutional vagueness of the statute is reversed, and the case is remanded back to the county court for further proceedings....”