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Name: In re Michael M.
Case #: F035083
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 01/29/2001
Subsequent History: Rev. den. 4/18/01

Appellant was properly convicted of a violation the prohibition against hate crimes in Penal Code section 422.6 for writing “Nigger” on the classroom door of the only African-American teacher, and “Kill the Niggers” on the music building of his public school. The finding that the school’s door and wall were property of the victims (the teacher and a particular group of students at the school) was supported by substantial evidence. The word “property” in section 422.6 is not limited to property owned by the victim. As long as the property is regularly and openly used, possessed, or occupied by the victim so that it is readily identifiable with him or her, it falls within the statutory scope. The trial court did not give an overly broad interpretation of section 422.6 by interpreting appellant’s words as a credible threat of violence. The words were not simply graffiti because they were written on public property. The word’s placement on the door of the only African-American teacher carried with it a violent connotation. It produced terror in the teacher. The more descriptive words placed on the building where African-American students tended to congregate was reasonably interpreted as a direct, violent threat to those students. Therefore, the statute as interpreted by the trial court was not overbroad in violation of the First Amendment.