Crime

In a reader poll we took back in August, 80 percent of you expressed the view that JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater, famous for his on-board meltdown and dramatic exit, is not a criminal (or shouldn’t be treated as one).

Well, now he is. This morning Steve Slater pled guilty to second-degree attempted criminal mischief, a felony, and a lesser charge of fourth-degree attempted criminal mischief, a misdemeanor. Although flight attendants are used to spending long periods of time in confined spaces, Slater isn’t getting any prison time.

Pursuant to the plea agreement, Slater must go through at least one year of mental health counseling and substance abuse treatment. If he completes the program in satisfactory fashion, the felony charge will be dismissed, and he’ll be sentenced to a year of probation on the remaining misdemeanor count.

Did anything exciting happen at the hearing? Did Slater take a page from his JetBlue playbook, call Judge Marcia Hirsch a “f**king asshole,” and tell her to “f**k off”?

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child learns adult games.jpgFew are going to stand up in support of kiddie porn, even when it’s art. Last year, the Tate Modern proposed displaying a nude portrait of Brooke Shields at age 10. It caved on those plans after objections from the “obscene publications unit” of the London Metropolitan Police, according to Caveat Viator.

Caveat Viator offers a link to the portrait, but we’d advise against checking it out. (Go watch The Blue Lagoon instead.) Cyberlaw professor Eric Goldman calls child porn “toxic,” noting that “there is no easy way to legally cure even a single download of child porn.”

Even if it’s part of your “academic research.” A New York professor considering writing a book on how to define child porn is now serving a prison sentence because of images he downloaded in the course of his research, and images left in his cached folder from Web-browsing kiddie porn sites.

Sentences range. That professor got a one-to-three year sentence, while an Alabama man with an underage porno video discovered on his computer by the Geek Squad got 10 years, as we mentioned last week. That’s for hitting download and play, not for firing up a camera and hitting record. Is that a fair sentence, or are the penalties for kiddie porn possession too exxxtreme?

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Animal abusers now must tell me and my dog where they are if they live in Suffolk County.

Suffolk County, my old ‘hood, just took a huge step forward in the cause for animal rights. The WSJ Law Blog reports:

New York’s Suffolk County legislature on Wednesday signed off on a measure that would publicly name anyone convicted of animal abuse by having them report to a registry for five years after their conviction.

“Most serial killers began as animal abusers,” Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Chief Roy Gross told the North Shore Sun. “It’s a known fact: people who hurt animals hurt people too.”

Good. Great. Parents don’t want their kids hanging out at the sex offender’s house next door, and they really shouldn’t want their kids hanging out with the neighbor who mistreats and harms defenseless animals as well. People who prey on weak animals will soon prey on weak people.

And here’s the follow up legislation, which should be a no-brainer….

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This is a urinal. And It seems far too many of you don't know how or when to use it.

Welcome to Above the Law’s remedial skills class for current and aspiring attorneys. Here, we will trying to help people who were so busy studying in law school or servicing clients that they missed some crucial life lessons along the way.

Today we’ve got a special lesson for all of you who were raised in a barn or otherwise don’t understand how to use a bathroom.

We have two case studies, one from the Bronx and the other from the University of Arizona Law School. The cases show us lawyers who either don’t know how to recognize or how to utilize a public bathroom. It’s a dirty business teaching lawyers how to pee properly, but somebody has to step in when the parents (and common sense) fail.

Our first case comes from Bronx, New York, home to countless attorneys — including some who apparently don’t know what a bathroom looks like…

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In December 2008, then-Chief Judge Jack Camp (N.D. Ga.) gave an interesting interview to the Fulton County Daily Report. In explaining his decision to enter the semiretired state available to certain federal judges known as senior status, Judge Camp said that senior status would allow him to do some things “I really want to do, but never had a chance to do.”

Things like cocaine, marijuana, oxycodone, and a prostitute named Sherry Ann Ramos — if law enforcement allegations are to be believed, that is. (Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty, especially the exalted legal deities known as Article III judges, and Judge Camp’s attorney has stated that His Honor plans to plead not guilty.)

Let’s behold the hottie who may have been been the Georgia jurist’s downfall — and hear from some folks who have interacted with Judge Camp….

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Molly Wei didn't stop her friend for using her computer; now she could end up in jail.

Prosecutors looking into Tyler Clementi suicide indicated yesterday that they might not be able to charge Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei with a hate crime. Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan told the Newark Star-Ledger that his office was trying to see if they could charge Ravi and Wei with a second degree bias crime, but so far they don’t have enough evidence to support such a charge.

Right now, Ravi and Wei are charged with invasion of privacy, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail.

Given that some people have pushed for prosecution that goes all the way up to homicide charges, the possibility that Ravi and Wei won’t be charged with a hate crime (or burned at the stake, or whatever the hell will satisfy people’s revenge impulse) will disappoint many — perhaps including prosecutor Kaplan, who said: “Sometimes the laws don’t always adequately address the situation. That may come to pass here.”

And sometimes the public’s outrage completely outstrips the actual crime committed. I’ve already shared my thoughts about Dharun Ravi’s crime. Now let’s take a closer look at Molly Wei — a girl who, as far as we know, is guilty of letting a high school buddy use her computer…

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Judge Jack Camp: Don't be fooled by his grandfatherly exterior.

The allegations against Judge Jack Camp (N.D. Ga.), which we mentioned earlier today, are far more salacious than we expected. In fact, they’re hard to believe.

“Learned Paw” posted this tongue-in-cheek comment, inspired by Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, on our earlier post:

I am not surprised by the bust of Judge Camp, considering the last trip I took with him. We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a saltshaker half-full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers . . . Also, a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of beer, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls. Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get into locked a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can. The only thing that really worried me was the ether….

There’s no indication that the 67-year-old Judge Camp tried ether. But if the allegations of law enforcement are to be believed, Learned Paw / Hunter S. Thompson is not far off the mark.

According to the criminal complaint in the case, Judge Camp used a wide range of controlled substances — in the company of an exotic dancer / prostitute, who turned out to be a confidential informant….

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According to news reports out of Atlanta, which have been confirmed by U.S. Marshal Richard Mecum, Senior Judge Jack Camp (N.D. Ga.) has been arrested on federal drug charges by the FBI. He’s scheduled to appear in court later today.

Nominated to the federal bench by President Reagan, Judge Camp has been a judge for a long time — over two decades, since 1988. He has presumably presided over countless drug cases. If Judge Camp ends up pleading guilty to anything, that will be one interesting Rule 11 colloquy.

Let’s have a look at His Honor, shall we?

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Gov. Schwarzenegger should have a pretty mellow retirement.

It’s Friday, many of you ain’t got no job, and California is going to let you get high!

Don’t let the somewhat tepid headline fool you. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger took a major step towards decriminalizing marijuana possession today.

If you don’t smoke up, the news can seem kind of minor. Schwarzenegger signed a bill that reduces possession of an ounce or less of weed from a misdemeanor to an infraction. That doesn’t make recreational use of marijuana legal or anything — and that’s too bad, because that means broke-ass California can’t slap a sin tax on pot and thereby get its financial house in order.

But the ramifications of the legislation are still significant for recreational pot users…

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I like the work, I like the people, I like the clients, I set my own hours, I set my own price structure, I call the shots with what I will and will not do.

Valerie Scott, one of the three sex workers who successfully challenged restrictions on prostitution in Canada’s Criminal Code (via Morning Docket).

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