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Question #1

Michael Smith was canoeing down the Rifle River in Michigan with his wife and two children. About forty yards ahead of him, there was a group of people traveling down the river together. The group consisted of five canoes. Timothy Boomer was in one of the five canoes. Smith saw Boomer fall out of his canoe and into the river, at which point Boomer loudly uttered a stream of profanities, while slapping the river and throwing his hands into the air.
Kenneth Socia, a road patrol deputy for the Sheriff’s Department, who was on duty at the Rifle River that day, heard a loud commotion and vulgar language coming from approximately one-quarter mile up the river. Socia looked up and saw Boomer chasing a group of canoes, splashing water at them with his paddle, and repeatedly swearing at them.

The river around Smith and Boomer was crowded with families and children. Smith says that Boomer would have been able to see Smith’s two children, who were both under five years old. Socia issued Boomer a citation for violating the following Michigan statute:
Any person who shall use any indecent, immoral, obscene, vulgar or insulting language in the presence or hearing of any woman or child shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
This statute was enacted in 1897. In the one hundred year-plus history of the statute, there are no published cases addressing the statute.
At his arraignment on the misdemeanor charge, Boomer moves to dismiss the charge. What arguments can he make in support of his motion? What arguments might the prosecution make in response?

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