Steve Slater

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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We touched upon this issue in Morning Docket, both today and yesterday: Is Steven Slater — the JetBlue flight attendant who reportedly unleashed a profanity-laced tirade over the airplane’s public-address system, before fleeing the plane via the emergency-evacuation chute, beer in hand — a criminal?

Slater was hit with felony charges of criminal mischief and reckless endangerment, on the reasoning that the deployed evacuation chute could have hit someone below. But his lawyer argues that there was no endangerment, since Slater — a flight attendant with about 20 years of experience, since he entered the business at age 19 — checked to make sure nobody was below before deploying the slide.

Let’s explore the legal issues a bit more — with the help of one of our favorite commentators, memoirist turned litigatrix Elizabeth Wurtzel….

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