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State v. Meeds

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

May 3, 2018


          Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. CR2015-118294-001 The Honorable Danielle J. Viola, Judge

          Arizona Attorney General's Office, Phoenix By Jillian Francis Counsel for Appellee

          Ballecer & Segal LLP, Phoenix By Natalee E. Segal Counsel for Appellant

          Judge Randall M. Howe delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Paul J. McMurdie and Judge Michael J. Brown joined.


          HOWE, JUDGE.

         ¶1 Arthur Ray Meeds appeals his convictions and sentences for stalking, a class 3 felony, and threatening or intimidating, a class 6 felony. Meeds contends that A.R.S. § 13-1202(B)(2), which enhances the consequence for a criminal street gang member who threatens or intimidates another person, is unconstitutionally vague because it fails to give a person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited and allows for arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement. He also argues that the statute is unconstitutionally overbroad because it impinges on First Amendment rights. We hold that A.R.S. § 13-1202(B)(2) is neither unconstitutionally vague nor overbroad.


         ¶2 Over a period of two days, Meeds sent a series of threatening text messages to his then-girlfriend, N.F., who was trying to end their 15-year relationship. After Meeds threatened to "blow [her] face off, "[1] he showed up at her workplace to make sure that she was there. After Meeds texted, "im here, " N.F. responded, "you have threatened my life too many times. Just leave[.]" When Meeds did not leave and told N.F. to come talk with him, N.F. texted "I can't do face to face with you, you've threatened my life one too many times and I just don't understand why[.]" Meeds responded that N.F.'s words and actions were "going [to] get [her] hurt[.]"

         ¶3 Meeds drove off when police arrived at N.F.'s workplace and resumed sending threatening texts to her that night. In one, he sent N.F. a photograph of her nephew's house, where she lived with her son, and threatened to shoot up the house or set it on fire. He continued, "im here, " and warned her, "do i need [to] go to the door or send them in[, ] your choice because when i pull off the next car is going [to] light that bitch up[.]" In another, he threatened her nephew's wife by stating that she "will . . . enjoy my firework show, " which N.F. interpreted as "he was threatening her life." He continued, "i told you before i dont got [to] be around to make it hot[.]" He followed up by texting N.F. that she and her nephew had 24 hours to get out of the city or he would "gun [them] down!!!!!"

         ¶4 An Arizona Department of Public Safety detective interviewed N.F. two days later. The detective reviewed reports from the officers that responded to N.F.'s place of work, collected the security footage, and gathered the text messages Meeds sent to N.F. After the interview with N.F., the detective described N.F. as "scared shitless." The detective subsequently arrested Meeds and the State charged him with (1) stalking and (2) threatening or intimidating, which included an allegation that Meeds was a criminal street gang member.

         ¶5 During trial, N.F. testified to the text messages exchanged during that two-day period. N.F. also testified that she believed Meeds was a gang member, had seen him with other gang members, and had heard him reference the "Crips" gang. She stated, however, that she was not sure about whether Meeds was a gang member. She further testified that Meeds's violent conduct and threats had previously escalated before this incident and "[t]hat's why I started fearing for my life, because it escalated." During N.F.'s testimony, Meeds moved to represent himself. The court granted Meeds's motion and Meeds's former counsel remained as advisory counsel.

         ¶6 A Phoenix police detective, an expert in criminal street gangs, testified that Meeds met at least four criteria identifying him as a member of the Lindo Park Crips criminal street gang. The gang expert testified that he had contact with Meeds two years earlier when Meeds was at Lindo Park with about ten documented Lindo Park Crips. Because of this contact, the gang expert had filled out a "gang member information card" ("GMIC") on Meeds; a card that officers use to report when potential gang members meet one or more of the gang criteria listed. The gang expert also testified that he had discussed Meeds with senior detectives and discovered several police reports that documented Meeds as a Lindo Park Crip and noted that Meeds often wore baby blue- Lindo Park Crips colors. Meeds objected to the gang expert's testimony about discussions with the senior detectives and about the prior police reports reviewed, which the trial court denied. The gang expert stated that Meeds's text messages to N.F. satisfied the "written or electronic correspondence" element of GMIC. The gang expert opined that based on what he heard during trial, Meeds had extensive knowledge of documented gang members, locations within the neighborhood, and gang colors. Thus, the gang expert concluded that "from the time that I've contacted him in 2014 to this trial, " Meeds satisfied "at least four" of the seven GMIC criteria.

         ¶7 Meeds objected during his cross-examination of the gang expert that the State had violated its disclosure obligations by failing to produce copies of the pre-2014 police reports that the expert referred to for past documentation of Meeds's gang membership. Meeds's advisory counsel informed the court that the gang expert had disclosed the prior police reports in an interview with her before trial. Counsel told the court she had not requested copies of the reports at the time because "it[ was] not an area [she] would have wanted reports or needed them." She also noted that she had given Meeds her notes of the detective's interview, which included the "years and reports and dates of information" the detective relayed to her. The court found that the State had not violated its disclosure obligations, but ordered the prosecutor to redact copies of the cited police reports and furnish them to Meeds. Meeds, however, refused to accept the reports and instead moved for dismissal, mistrial, or to strike the expert's testimony. The court treated the motion as seeking reconsideration of the prior ruling and denied it.

         ¶8 The jury convicted Meeds of the charged crimes of stalking and threatening or intimidating, and found that he was a gang member on the dates of the latter offense. The court found that Meeds had been convicted of eight prior felony convictions and sentenced him to concurrent terms totaling 11.25 years' imprisonment. Meeds timely appealed.


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