Pa. Superior Court affirms loud music disorderly conduct conviction out of York County

By Jon Campisi | Apr 2, 2014

A state appellate court panel has ruled that a trial judge was correct to

uphold a disorderly conduct summary offense citation that had been issued to a man who played music in his home too loudly.

In a case atypical of the type of matter found on an appeals court docket, a panel of three Pennsylvania Superior Court judges determined that a York County Common Pleas Court judge correctly upheld David Lee Ritchey’s disorderly conduct conviction.

Ritchey, a resident of West York, Pa., was issued the citation for unreasonable noise on Feb. 11, 2013, after a neighbor, Andrea Kuebler, complained to police that the man was listening to classic rock music in his semi-detached home at a very loud volume, according to the court record.

Kuebler first attempted to knock on Ritchey’s door to ask him to turn down the volume, but Ritchey never heard the knock.

The responding police officers, who testified that the music was “very, very loud,” at first couldn’t get Ritchey to answer the door, but ultimately gained entry and issued the man a citation.

A magisterial district judge found Ritchey guilty of disorderly conduct and fined him $150, the record shows.

Ritchey appealed the conviction to Common Pleas Court, which upheld the conviction, but reduced the fine.

Ritchey then filed an appeal with the Superior Court arguing that there was insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction of disorderly conduct for the action of listening to the radio during the daytime and turning it down when asked to do so.

The appeals judges, however, agreed with the trial court, writing that testimony offered was sufficient to prove that Ritchey produced noise that was loud enough to be heard from the sidewalk in front of his house.

“Not only was the music loud, but it continued for hours,” the ruling states. “Thus, the evidence was sufficient to establish that Appellant’s music was ‘unreasonable noise, and that this noise created a risk of public annoyance or inconvenience.”

Ritchey also was aware, or should have been aware, that the music was unreasonably loud since Kuebler, the neighbor, had asked him to turn down the volume of his music on a previous occasion.

“The evidence was therefore sufficient to prove that Appellant acted recklessly,” the Superior Court ruling states.

The non-precedential decision was penned by Superior Court Judge Eugene Strassburger.

The other participating judges were John Bender and Christine Donohue.

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