Stupid arrest, "silly" sentence: "You can't say 'Bingo!' for six months." How far can a judge go?

A man shouted “Bingo!” in a crowded Bingo hall.

He was arrested for second-degree disorderly conduct. At trial the arresting LEO further testified “You can’t go into a ballpark and yell ‘out,’ because people would stop the game.”

The Judge’s sentence was that the man was not allowed to say “Bingo!” for six months. I don’t know if using a tone of voice indicated by exclamation point in the “Bingo!” sentence could be held against the guy, but the whole thing (as was obvious to the Judge) is absurd.

Now, I really don’t fear for the First Amendment, although I don’t know the original case that this one apparently so closely and frighteningly resembles.

But being arrested is serious business. And far more serious is the judgement of the law.

So what’s going on here?

Fine, the Judge thought it was against the law. Now he may be saying, as one may hear at a serious, consequential sentencing, “My hands are tied by sentencing laws, but ‘I’d give you a more severe|I’d give you a more lenient’ sentence.”

Fine. But a silly sentence intended, presumably, as commentary is still a sentence, which is a statement of and about the law and the future ensuring of the law–which is serious.

If the Judge wanted to throw it out of court he could have (my position on the case is clear).

But he didn’t. The guy now has a record, and the sentence, besides being clever hah-hah, sounds to me illegal by being unenforceable. And it also is in the legal record for some other lawyer to try and futz around with.

No doubt the guy can appeal, but that’s not the point.


  1. How can a Judge do this and get away with it? And if appeal is made or not, can he be held accountable (censure or whatever) if indeed he has done something wrong?

  2. I would love to hear more cases of Judges giving “creative” and hah-hah clever sentences.
    PS: I started spelling “Judge” out of respect to the office, and now it looks weird. It’s not like the President or the Queen, or, more to the point, like a Lawyer. It probably shouldn’t be capped.

You have to work at a bingo (or play it) to appreciate the damage a false bingo can cause. Some old ladies have a spread of a square yard of those disposable sheets of cards and they sweep it all into the garbage to set up for the next game when someone yells bingo. Sorting that mess out is a nightmare - especially when they start fighting over who had the card with only 2 left for the blackout, and sepecially if 2 neighbours are using the same bingo dabber colour. What a mess!

I hope this guy either made a spectacular mess or was a persistent nuisance to earn a charge and a record for this… I suspect the sentence is silly because the judge can’t stop him from doing this. I assume what it really means is that he is on probabtion with this restriction - and any trouble where he says the word and it is reported to the judge, then off to jail for the rest of his sentence. Usually it’s a bit more specific - can’t go into a bingo hall etc. But, the judge can impose whatever he wants, and an appeal court can say if it’s reasonable if the perp wants clarification and can afford a lawyer.

I assume the blanket restriction is in case the idiot decides to mess with TV/phone-in bingo, or stand outside the window of the hall and yell bingo?

They don’t wait until the call is confirmed? Even people who call “bingo” earnestly can make mistakes.

The disorderly conduct charge seems pretty easy to make, based on the facts in the article. However, the judge’s sentence is clearly both illegal and unenforceable, and I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody took up the cost of filing an appeal.

The OP asks whether the judge can be held accountable for this ruling outside of the appeals process. I suppose he could be charged with an ethical violation, or he could be sanctioned by the judicial conduct commission. Not sure a wacky ruling is serious enough to warrant a complaint in either forum.

The news article isn’t telling the whole story. The kid wouldn’t have gotten the citation at all if he had apologized to the angry bingo patrons, but he refused so the officer gave him a citation. I haven’t seen anything yet suggesting that the kid was actually arrested along with the citation. When he got to court the judge gave him deferred disposition, i.e. stay out of trouble for six months, maybe pay a small fine and court costs, and the charge will be dismissed:

Bogus ‘bingo’ earns no jail time

In other words, the judge was telling him to stay out of trouble for six months. Telling him not to say “bingo” was just winding him up a bit. I seriously doubt the judge is going to order him adjudicated and jailed if he tells somebody “I got in trouble at a bingo parlor.”

Was that the actually sentence or was he given probation with that as a condition of the probation?

If it’s the later, in most states the judge can pretty much set any condition of the probation he wants. Even if it’s silly.

There’s an video of an interview with him here, and he said that the judge will clear the case if he complies with the order.

I think it’s funny. This is clearly a case of the judge doing something right here. He’s letting him go, but making him earn it.

He’s lucky.

I remember hearing of a case where someone did this (twice!) at a parish bingo hall. But they didn’t call a cop – instead some of the brothers running the game took him out back and explained to him why he shouldn’t do that in their parish. The next day, he had a black eye, some loosened teeth, and many bruises from the ‘explanation’.

Neither him nor anyone else ever did that again in that parish.

“Brothers” like monks?

Yes, it is an intricate game with a steep learning curve. BINGO!!!

Be that as it may, I don’t think I’ve ever played a game where at least one person didn’t mishear the numbers or something.

I will concede the point; never been a playa.

Or maybe deacons or student monks or something.

Like as in, you’re saying, a bunch of catholic monks beat a guy up?

And apparently thought nothing of it afterwards?


Well, we don’t know if they were contrite or not. You’ve never heard of ultra-religious being violent?

When it comes specifically to Catholic monks, acting in concert, in North America, within living memory? No, I haven’t heard of any such thing. It seems genuinely shocking to me. This may just mean I don’t know enough monks.

It could have been worse. They could have used the comfy chair.

I came into this thread thinking that the thread title was an example of a hypothetical silly sentence. Whereas it is actual, and not as silly as it first seems.

That’s my take on it.

Crying BINGO is a bit disruptive, but anyone who clears their boards at the cry is being pretty foolish, and isn’t likely to be one of the experienced old crones with 8 boards going. I say this with the vast experience of having tagged along on one or two bingo outings, where I learned colorful terms like “TWO FAT LADIES”.

The kid got a civics lesson, and maybe – just maybe – learned not to try to be a seat-of-the-pants lawyer. Good thing he didn’t try it with “Fire”.

Anybody remember that old joke?

Q: How do you make an old lady say “f**k”?

A: Yell “BINGO!”