Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way

United States v. Agront, No. 13-10218 (9th Cir. Nov. 21, 2014).

In what may be one episode from a larger domestic tragedy, Louis Agront was convicted of violating a VA regulation that prohibits people from creating “loud, boisterous, and unusual noise” in a VA facility.

Agront’s children had taken him to a VA hospital, telling him the visit was to treat his knee and foot pain. In truth, they had taken him there because they were worried about his increasingly erratic behavior. 

At some point during his visit, Agront stormed off into the parking lot, where he and his son began yelling at and pushing and shoving each other. The yelling was loud enough that VA employees called the VA police, who showed up and arrested Agront, who was later convicted by a federal magistrate judge. Agront was sentenced to six months of probation and a $60 fine.

Agront appeals to the Ninth Circuit, challenging the VA regulation under which he was convicted. The regulation prohibits “disorderly conduct which creates loud, boisterous, and unusual noise” that would tend to disturb the VA’s normal operation. The Ninth Circuit holds that that prohibition isn’t unconstitutionally vague. A reasonable person should know what’s going to tend to disturb the operations of a hospital. And, because Agront yelled loudly and really did disturb a VA hospital’s operations, his conviction is affirmed.