Citizen's arrest, sentencing, and sex
Our Friday roundup finds former Ohio congressional candidate Paul Hackett emerging unscathed from a bout with the law over his "citizen's arrest" of three men who fled after they crashed their car into a fence near his home. As this story relates, Hackett pursued them, armed with a 30-round assault rifle. It's unclear exactly how he captured them, but when the police arrived, they were lying face-down on the ground around their car, with him standing nearby. The grand jury briefly investigated Hackett, apparently on the question of whether one can use deadly force to apprehend someone for criminal damaging, a misdemeanor. Threatening deadly force and using deadly force aren't the same thing, though, so the subsequent decision not to charge Hackett appears to be a proper one, considering the circumstances. For those who are inclined toward similar Rambo-like exploits, however, keep in mind that Ohio law permits a citizen's arrest only for felonies.
The big decision from the US Supreme Court this weekend was Cunningham v. California, which struck down California's sentencing scheme. The case involved a defendant who'd been convicted of sexually abusing his son. California law provided for a sentence of 6, 12, or 16 years; the judge had to pick the 12 year sentence, unless he found certain aggravating or mitigating circumstances, in which case he could impose the higher or lower sentence. That ran afoul of the Apprendi/Blakely/Booker trilogy, and that was that. Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times -- and their coverage of Supreme Court cases is the best of any newspaper in the country -- has a good article about it here, and this article from Slate has another angle, pointing out how the Supreme Court cases might have actually harmed the movement for sentencing reform.
Maybe it's just me, but it seems that there are more criminal cases anymore involving people having sex with teenagers, except that the people who are being prosecuted are other teenagers. Or, as this story about a Florida case shows, the teenagers themselves: an appellate court ruled that a sixteen year-old girl could be adjudged delinquent under the state's child pornography laws for emailing a picture of herself having sex with her boyfriend to the boyfriend's email account.
Much more appalling is the case of Genarlow Wilson, an 18-year-old Georgia honor student and star athlete, who is serving a ten-year prison sentence for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl. Had the sex been vaginal intercourse, it would have been a misdemeanor, but oral sex fell under the definition of sodomy and triggered the far harsher sentence. Here's a lengthy story on the case by ESPN, and here's some excerpts from the article, plus links to other stories about it, on the Sentencing Law and Policy blog.
Of course, it's not only teen-age sex that the law seeks to inhibit. Over the past few years, a number of professions have taken steps to make sure that their members don't take undue sexual advantage of their clients. Check out this hilarious post by Eugene Volokh of the Volokh Conspiracy on how Washington statutes affect the dating prospects of opticians and dental hygienists, of all people. Seriously, it's a great read.
There have been numerous disciplinary cases here in Ohio involving lawyers having sex with their clients. My personal favorite is this one, where the Supreme Court handed down a one-year suspension to an attorney who'd had sex with a criminal client in a jail meeting room. Like James Taylor, I've seen fire and I've seen rain, but unlike James, I've also seen female criminal clients and I've seen jail meeting rooms, and the thought of having sex with the former in the latter sounds about as appealing as going hunting with Dick Cheney. And probably as dangerous.