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posted by janrinok on Tuesday March 11 2014, @12:09PM   Printer-friendly
from the it-was-only-a-matter-of-time dept.

Papas Fritas writes:

"Scott Smith reports at AP that 26-year-old Sergio Patrick Rodriguez has been convicted of pointing a green laser at a Fresno Police Department helicopter and sentenced to spend 14 years in federal prison. 'This is not a game. It is dangerous, and it is a felony,' says US Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner. 'Those who aim lasers at aircraft should know that we will seek to convict them, and we will seek to send them to prison. The safety of aircraft and the people in them demands no less.' According to evidence presented at trial, Rodriguez and his girlfriend, Jennifer Lorraine Coleman, 23, used a high-powered green laser pointer 13 times more powerful than common pointers to repeatedly strike the cockpit of Air 1 during a clear summer night in 2012. In imposing the sentence, Judge O'Neill considered not only the severity of the offenses but Rodriguez's criminal history, numerous probation violations, and Bulldog gang affiliation. An expert said that the laser pointer that Rodriguez used was an instrument capable of inflicting serious bodily injury and death due to a high potential for crash caused by visual interference. A jury found Rodriguez guilty of attempting to interfere with safe operation of aircraft and aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft. 'Lasing aircraft is not a joke or a casual prank,' says Special Agent in Charge Monica M. Miller of the FBI's Sacramento field office. 'Rodriguez's sentence clearly demonstrates the seriousness of his actions and that the FBI will work with its law enforcement partners to locate and arrest those who engage in dangerous, improper use of hand-held lasers that puts us all at risk.'

On February 11, 2014, in 12 cities, the FBI, in collaboration with the Air Line Pilots Association International and the FAA, announced the Laser Threat Awareness campaign, a nationwide effort to alert the public to the threat that aircraft laser illumination poses and the penalties for such activity. The FBI will offer up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of any individual who intentionally aims a laser at an aircraft. The program is being rolled out in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Houston and San Antonio, Texas; Los Angeles and Sacramento, California; Philadelphia; Phoenix, Arizona; Cleveland, Ohio; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; New York; and San Juan, Puerto Rico."

 
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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by zocalo on Tuesday March 11 2014, @12:27PM

    by zocalo (302) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @12:27PM (#14596)
    I wonder how much of that sentence is down to what sounds like quite an extensive past criminal history in the article though? Sounds like the judge may have been taking the opportunity to remove a "walking crime spree" from the streets for as long as possible. Still, it's a dumb thing to do and if the history part gets blurred out leaving "14 years in a Federal pen for aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft" as a warning to others, then that's just fine by me.
    --
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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Spook brat on Tuesday March 11 2014, @03:20PM

    by Spook brat (775) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @03:20PM (#14695) Journal

    . . . if the history part gets blurred out leaving "14 years in a Federal pen for aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft" as a warning to others, then that's just fine by me.

    I think we should be very careful of using this as a method of sentencing. One definition of terrorism is "action intended to influence an audience beyond the immediate victims". Any time a judge applies extreme sentence lengths or severities "as a warning to others" they are engaging in terrorism by this definition. Unless we intend to apply the same penalty to everyone convicted of this crime it is inappropriate to apply this high a penalty.

    We as a government are engaged in a global war on terror, with our service members engaged in punishing people who use it as a tool. It sends serious mixed messages if we then condone similar behavior in our own government.

     

    unnecessarily long, rambling postscript follows - ignore the rest of this post if desired =P

    Don't get me wrong, I don't object to harsh penalties for people who attempt to burn others' eyes out; doing so to someone operating an aircraft threatens the life of the pilot and all of the passengers. I simply don't see why we would need new laws for lasers specifically - battery and attempted mass-murder already carry stiff penalties. Anyone worthy of long-term incarceration due to their activities with a laser in the backyard ought to be able to be prosecuted under those laws. To those who would complain that proving mens rea [wikipedia.org] is too difficult; tough. Removing that burden from the prosecutors for their convenience adds to the likelihood of amateur astronomers being sentenced equivalently to sociopaths, and I don't see that being a benefit to society.

    --
    Travel the galaxy! Meet fascinating life forms... And kill them [schlockmercenary.com]
    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:02PM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:02PM (#14769) Journal

      As to your first part:
      The sentence in court probably had several components, some for each different charge, and some to run concurrently, and some to run consecutively. This information is lost to the fog journalism, and we are left with what is probably an in-accurate representation of the actual sentence.

      So don't rush to assume that this sentence was simply to send a message to other. That might be how the police spin it, but that doesn't mean that's how the judge graveled it down.

      Other reports [sfgate.com] indicate that his girlfriend can get at most 5 years for the EXACT same crime.

      Judge O’Neill cited Rodriguez’s criminal past, which includes probation violations and gang affiliation, as additional reasons for the sentence. This guy needed to be off the streets anyway.

      Don't rush to condemn the Judge for the words of prosecutors and police.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 2) by EvilJim on Wednesday March 12 2014, @03:30AM

        by EvilJim (2501) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @03:30AM (#15008) Journal

        yeah, I was thinking 5 years would be harsh enough to make a statement to the world, 14 years just seems excessive, but with the long criminal history, seems about right.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by davester666 on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:09PM

      by davester666 (155) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:09PM (#14773)

      but this will be used to give everybody 14 (or thereabouts) years in prison.

      just like here in canada, a guy running away from police, police had a dog, which they ordered to attack him. he stabs and kills the dog. he gets charged with animal cruelty and given just over 2 years in prison [and then not allowed to own a dog afterwards for 25].

      1. it's not cruelty to fend of a dog that is attacking you, even if it is a police dog. It's something (or should be somethign), but it's not cruelty.
      2. there was NO evidence he had ever injured another animal either before or after this single incident, so it's a perversion to include the restriction on owning an animal afterwards
      3. there was also other charges for stealing a vehicle, assaulting an officer, but they attributed the entire sentence he received for killing the dog

      So, next time it happens, it will be "judge, he should get 2 years for killing the police dog, plus X years for these additional crimes".

      It's just gaming the judicial system to ratchet up sentences.

      The next laser pointer case, the prosecutor will go "14 years" regardless of circumstances of the defendant.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by tangomargarine on Tuesday March 11 2014, @09:14PM

        by tangomargarine (667) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @09:14PM (#14870)

        I'll cite HungryHobo's Slashdot Law [slashdot.org] here:

        If there's an insane way to apply a law which everyone dismisses as "nobody would ever apply it like that" then you can bet your ass it will be abused exactly like that.

        --
        "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
      • (Score: 2) by EvilJim on Wednesday March 12 2014, @03:35AM

        by EvilJim (2501) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @03:35AM (#15010) Journal

        guy running away from police

        we'll there's your problem right there, the cops don't release the dog if you don't run. it's the same thing if you run from a cop without a dog, (well in the US anyway) you're likely to get shot, 2 years is pretty soft compared to dying from sudden lead intake.

        if you run from the cops, you're going to have a bad time.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by naubol on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:15PM

      by naubol (1918) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:15PM (#14779)

      One definition of terrorism is "action intended to influence an audience beyond the immediate victims".

      Does this mean that twitter is engaged in terrorism?

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by mcgrew on Tuesday March 11 2014, @08:29PM

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Tuesday March 11 2014, @08:29PM (#14826) Homepage Journal

      Your definition of "terrorism" makes me a terrorist for stopping at the gas station down the street every day and buying a dollar's worth on a credit card so he loses money on the sale as a protest against recent drastic and unwarranted price hikes is terrorism. Bash Limbaugh? I'm a terrorist for trying to sway consrvatives' opinions by attacking Limbaugh.

      Putting criminals in prison is not terrorism. Period. You really need a better dictionary.

      --
      Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
      • (Score: 2, Funny) by Leebert on Wednesday March 12 2014, @03:19AM

        by Leebert (3511) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @03:19AM (#15004)

        stopping at the gas station down the street every day and buying a dollar's worth on a credit card

        I admire your impressive reflexes, sir. Few people could click a pump nozzle that fast!

      • (Score: 2) by EvilJim on Wednesday March 12 2014, @03:27AM

        by EvilJim (2501) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @03:27AM (#15007) Journal

        serious? we have a $2 minimum in New Zealand... that and gas is over $2 a litre. how do they let that occur?

        • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Wednesday March 12 2014, @05:07PM

          by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Wednesday March 12 2014, @05:07PM (#15390) Homepage Journal

          The credit card companies have small businesses over a barrel here. Some places do have minimums, five bucks or something, but they'd have to reprogram all the fuel pumps to have a minimum. That would be expensive.

          I knew a service station owner (closed down 2 years ago, someone with shitloads of money wanted his business so they could raze it) who said margins were really thin on fuel. He made most of his money on car repairs (it was an old-fashioned full service garage) and snacks and lottery tickets and such. He said if someone bought less than five bucks worth of gasoline on a card, he lost money. I just gave him paper checks, cost neither of us anything.

          Also, you have to remember that we're talking gallons here, not litres. It's about a dollar a liter here (3.65 a gallon). I don't have to drive much so two dollars a day is plenty.

          --
          Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
          • (Score: 2) by EvilJim on Wednesday March 12 2014, @08:51PM

            by EvilJim (2501) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @08:51PM (#15517) Journal

            that sucks for the small business owner, I almost cant believe that happens, we've had the $2 limit since I started driving in 1995. fortunately I'm only 2 mins away from work so only spend a max of $20 a week on gas, that includes lunching in town, should really walk :) I guess it's a similar situation to the mobile stands in international airports, I bought a $10 sim card in Sydney recently, it took probably 20 mins to get it installed and working, I hardly see how they can survive making only tiny profits or even loss leaders with no followup charges. they must have been paying their guy far less that $20 per hour to stand at that kiosk.

      • (Score: 1) by Spook brat on Wednesday March 12 2014, @05:52AM

        by Spook brat (775) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @05:52AM (#15048) Journal

        You wrote:Putting criminals in prison is not terrorism. Period. You really need a better dictionary.

         

        TL;DR version - I didn't mean what you think I meant. I agree that the examples you gave aren't terrorism under the definition I used. Also, dictionaries typically have poor definitions of terrorism.

         

        Now for the long version: I'm going to defend my definition first, then deal with the issue of criminal sentencing later.

        You have made a few comments criticizing my definition of terrorism; I think if I give a few examples with better explanations that it may be clearer to you what I mean.

        Example: Hijacker threatens airliner pilot with a gun, with instructions to re-direct to a different airport or die. Not terrorism - the action has little influence on people not directly affected. Similarly, carjacking and mugging don't generally rate as terrorism.

        Example: Hijacker holds airliner pilot and passengers as hostages, threatening to kill a hostage every hour until a political prisoner is released. This is terrorism; the pilot and the passengers are personally powerless to release political prisoners. The action (killing hostages) is not intended to influence the hostages (especially not the dead ones), it's intended to influence the jailers of the political prisoners.

        Example: Making a protest purchase you know will cost the store money, punishing them for raising prices. Not terrorism - the store is the immediate victim, and also the party you wish to influence (you want them to reduce prices to what they were before). Your action has no influence on the stores' competitors, nor anyone else I can think of.

        Example: Public statements criticizing Rush Limbaugh. Not terrorism - your influence is limited to the people who hear you, who are the immediate victims of your verbal abuse. If you intend to make Rush change his opinion, make sure you're saying it to his face, but it's still not terrorism: he is both your "victim" (as much as there can be one when you're just talking) and your intended affected audience. I don't think this changes even if you're just flaming on twitter.

        Example: Assassinate Rush Limbaugh, and publish a manifesto saying that unless Ann Coulter and Glen Beck stop broadcasting they're next. Now we're talking terrorism. Similarly, bombing abortion clinics to encourage other doctors to stop performing abortions is also terrorism, for the same reason. The victims are dead, the people you intended to influence are not the immediate victims.

        Example: Mafia boss burns down a store because the owner refused to pay his "protection" money, as an example of what would happen to others. This qualifies; the store owner whose store got torched will no longer be in a position to pay anything. The intended audience is the other store owners who are now afraid that their store will get burned if they don't pay.

         

        For what it's worth, the CIA uses a similar definition [cia.gov]:
        The term "terrorism" means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.
        I personally don't like that definition, as it's too specific - terrorist may have motivations other than political ones, and there are state-sponsored terrorist that wouldn't fall under this definition.
        And here's the FBI's definition [fbi.gov]:
        "International terrorism" means activities [which] . . . Appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping
        I don't care for this one, either, because it suggests that one nation threatening to declare war against another due to a border dispute is an act of international terrorism. Recent U.S. interventions against Syria and Libya would also qualify. Additionally, since this is explicitly a definition of international terrorism it excludes groups like the KKK that clearly engage in domestic terrorism. On the bright side, it at least captures the idea that actions taken against a specific target (e.g. assassination) are influencing a larger audience (policy/conduct of a government).

        I like the definition I gave in my earlier post. It's succinct, doesn't rule out people due to differences in motivation, allows for both state-sponsored and independent terrorist agents, and doesn't result in conventional warfare getting categorized as terrorism. It was also, at one time, used by the U.S. DOD, although I'm struggling to find a reference to cite for you.

         

        Back to your original complaint: I believe that, depending on how it's done, handing down a prison sentence can be a terrorist act. That's kinda the reason why there's a "cruel and unusual punishment" clause in the U.S constitution. "Let the punishment fit the crime" type of sentences are not terrorism, by any stretch of the imagination. The problem starts when the judge hands down an excessive sentence, perhaps to the first person convicted of violating a new law, in order to "send a message" to others. The "message" should have been delivered when the law was put into force; being the first offender should have no bearing on the judgement. Any overly-harsh judgement passed for reasons other than the defendant's own actions is unjust; doing so with the explicit intent to intimidate other would-be criminals with the threat of random and arbitrary punishments is a form of terrorism.

         

        Yeah, I think about this way too much. If you feel like joining me in my obsession, there's a good position paper [af.mil] published by the Air force's Air Command and Staff College; its author didn't have the authority to establish it as doctrine, but I agree with many points of their philosophy regarding the definition of terrorism.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by hatta on Tuesday March 11 2014, @03:36PM

    by hatta (879) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @03:36PM (#14707)

    What does an extensive past criminal history have to do with anything? I assume he served his time and is a free man. Punishing him for crimes he's already been punished for amounts to double jeopardy, which is prohibited by the Constitution.

    14 years is clearly cruel and unusual punishment, which is also prohibited by the Constitution. We're not talking about a murderer or a rapist here. We're not even talking about manslaughter, which might get you 5 years. This is clearly disproportionate, and anyone who defends it should be ashamed of themselves.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by metamonkey on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:10PM

      by metamonkey (3174) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:10PM (#14774)

      I think much of it had to do with being a repeat offender. If you go to prison, get out and keep committing crimes, wash rinse repeat, eventually you got locked up not just as punishment but because that's the only way to keep you from committing more crimes.

      For this guy, the reason the police helicopter showed up was because he was lasing a medical emergency helicopter for a children's hospital. Then he lased the cops, too. And it wasn't like a foolish use of a laser pointer pin. He had one of those big mama jamas. According to the story, 13 times more powerful than a laser pointer. He was trying to crash the damn helicopters, thereby killing people. This is attempted murder.

      Let's say it wasn't helicopters and lasers. What exactly would you think is an appropriate punishment for somebody who first tries to run an ambulance for sick children off the road, and then tries to wreck the cop car that responds?

      --
      Okay 3, 2, 1, let's jam.
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by hatta on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:18PM

        by hatta (879) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:18PM (#14781)

        This is attempted murder.

        Great. Then try him for attempted murder.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by frojack on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:42PM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:42PM (#14805) Journal

          Why try him for attempted murder?

          There are specific laws on the books for what he DID, which don't require you to prove INTENT.
          With murder, (especially attempted murder) you have to prove intent. That's pretty hard because you have to prove what was going on inside his brain.

          Why do you have this objection to specific prohibited acts being outlawed, rather than raising everything to the level of murder.

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
          • (Score: 2) by hatta on Tuesday March 11 2014, @09:03PM

            by hatta (879) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @09:03PM (#14860)

            Why try him for attempted murder?

            Because you justified the sentence by saying it was attempted murder. Prove it.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @09:20PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @09:20PM (#14874)

              Why? Because it's the prosecutor who makes that call, not you. I personally would like to see crimals arrested with the maximum charge, but that's not always the case. Politics, budgets, and time constraints factor into it.

              Tldr: he's guilty, going to jail, and nothing of value was lost.

            • (Score: 1, Troll) by frojack on Tuesday March 11 2014, @10:21PM

              by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 11 2014, @10:21PM (#14914) Journal

              Because you justified the sentence by saying it was attempted murder.

              I did no such thing.
              The prosecutor did no such thing.

              --
              No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
          • (Score: 1) by Hombre on Wednesday March 12 2014, @02:36AM

            by Hombre (977) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @02:36AM (#14994)

            Hmmm attempted murder. Tough one. I'm a commercial helicopter pilot. I fly low and slow. The vast majority of helos do not have an autopilot and most have just the single pilot. 500 feet is not a lot of wiggle room when bad things happen. Intentionally trying to blind me when I'm 500 feet above ground is, AFAIC, attempted murder. Well, intentional manslaughter at least, because it sure as heck is not involuntary. You wouldn't point a gun in jest at someone. You wouldn't try to run someone off the road with your car. Doing stupid stuff that you know will seriously injury or kill people generally qualifies for "attempted." So what do we call it if it's not attempted murder?

          • (Score: 1) by Spook brat on Wednesday March 12 2014, @12:29PM

            by Spook brat (775) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @12:29PM (#15212) Journal

            frojack wrote:There are specific laws on the books for what he DID, which don't require you to prove INTENT.

            This is not the situation that strict liability laws were meant for. If the police want to give you a traffic ticket because your car was illegally parked, I have no problem with that. When the police want to send you to prison for 5 years with no requirement that you even had criminal intent, I have a serious problem with that - and so should you.

            If this is a strict liability law then we're one amendment away from giving a backyard astronomer 5 years for accidentally scanning his 30 mW laser across an aircraft, same as the sociopath using a 1500 mW laser to blind pilots for fun. I don't want to live in that country.

            --
            Travel the galaxy! Meet fascinating life forms... And kill them [schlockmercenary.com]
            • (Score: 2) by frojack on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:40PM

              by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:40PM (#15552) Journal

              So, shining the laser on TWO different helicopters was an accident.
              Just playing with the shark officer, and it went off. You're going with that?

              If you can sell that to a jury, you're golden.

              --
              No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
              • (Score: 1) by Spook brat on Thursday March 13 2014, @03:02AM

                by Spook brat (775) on Thursday March 13 2014, @03:02AM (#15659) Journal

                Frojack wrote:If you can sell that to a jury, you're golden.

                 

                That's the problem, once you're in front of a jury on a charge with strict liability intent does not matter. Once the factual matter is decided, "I didn't mean any harm" doesn't matter - guilt is assigned, and the trial is moved on to sentencing.

                 

                How is this law written? If it really is strict liability, then scanning a 5 mW laser past a plane by accident during stargazing makes you equally guilty with the sociopath who is deliberately blinding pilots with a 1500 mW laser. Same crime. No law with a 5 year penalty should be strict liability.

                 

                Kudos, by the way, on the "just playing with the shark" line, that's witty =)

                --
                Travel the galaxy! Meet fascinating life forms... And kill them [schlockmercenary.com]
                • (Score: 2) by frojack on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:43AM

                  by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:43AM (#15696) Journal

                  The law seems to provide plenty of leeway for both a defense lawyer and the sentencing judge.
                  http://www.laserpointersafety.com/rules-general/us laws/uslaws.html#US_proposed_2005_2007_Securing_ [laserpointersafety.com]

                  Knowingly: excuses the careless astronomers (who are educated enough such that they really don't do this kind of shit anyway).

                  The ability to issue a fine also does not tie a judges hands.

                  --
                  No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
                  • (Score: 1) by Spook brat on Friday March 14 2014, @03:20AM

                    by Spook brat (775) on Friday March 14 2014, @03:20AM (#16165) Journal

                    Thanks for the link, that's some good reading!

                    Here's my favorite bit:

                     

                    . . . placing the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs in charge of enforcing sales restrictions that exceed federal standards is not likely to deter dangerous conduct, but instead will interfere with otherwise lawful commerce within New Jersey. The criminal laws already protecting New Jersey residents from the dangerous misuse of laser pointers would not be bolstered by an arbitrary one-milliwatt sales restriction that is inconsistent with federal standards.

                    Accordingly, I herewith return Senate Bill No. 418 (Second Reprint) without my approval.

                    Respectfully, /s/ Chris Christie
                    Governor

                     

                    *mind blown* Common sense? In East Coast politics? From Governor Chris Christie???

                    I don't know what to say. Some of my faith in humanity has been restored.

                    --
                    Travel the galaxy! Meet fascinating life forms... And kill them [schlockmercenary.com]
    • (Score: 5, Informative) by frojack on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:20PM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:20PM (#14785) Journal

      It probably means that there were other charges leveled against him in his indictment.
      Your bone headed press reporter glosses over these other charges in the name of journalism.

      The actual statute [justice.gov] he was charged under for his light show provides for a maximum of 5 years.
      And that is what his girlfriend will get.

      He was charged with two counts of lazering, so 10 years for those, (perhaps) and other things thrown in.

      Quoting from the above link....

      Laser Strike of Children’s Hospital and Fresno PD Helicopters
      Sergio Patrick Rodriguez, aka Javier Rodrigues, 26, and his girlfriend, Jennifer Lorraine Coleman, 23, both of Clovis, were charged with two counts of aiming a laser pointer at Air George, an emergency transport ambulance of Children’s Hospital Central California, and Air-1, a Fresno Police Department helicopter. They were also charged with conspiring to interfere with the safe operation of the helicopters and two counts of attempting to interfere with their safe operation.

      Plus additional charges were added after the above linked story went to press when it was found out he had violated his terms of probation, (and thus was not already a free man).

      But hey, nice attempt at silencing debate in your last sentence. You've had your say, and everyone else needs to shut up and hang their head in shame, even when your premise were totally wrong? I don't think so. You need to entertain the idea that you might actually be wrong on the facts once in a while.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Tuesday March 11 2014, @08:47PM

        by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Tuesday March 11 2014, @08:47PM (#14840) Homepage Journal

        I wish I hadn't used all my mod points, 3 is too low.

        --
        Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by hatta on Tuesday March 11 2014, @09:10PM

        by hatta (879) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @09:10PM (#14866)

        Awesome post. 5 years is plenty justifiable, and falls into line with sentences for manslaughter. It would still be better if he were charged with attempted voluntary manslaughter, we don't need a separate law for this.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by zocalo on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:22PM

      by zocalo (302) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:22PM (#14786)
      Depends on how it's handled. I agree that the jury should be kept completely in the dark about any previous convictions and only judge the facts of the crime at hand. In passing sentence though, the judge should certainly have full access to this and be able to take that into account and be able to pass stiffer sentences on persistant offenders. The article quite strongly implies that this was the case here; a different person with a cleaner record would probably have got a much more realistic sentence, but in this instance my take is that the judge considered Rodriguez a menace to society and probably gave the longest term he could.
      --
      UNIX? They're not even circumcised! Savages!
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by demonlapin on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:22PM

      by demonlapin (925) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:22PM (#14788) Journal

      I assume he served his time and is a free man.

      Almost certainly not. Most people get out of jail or prison only to be put on probation for a good while longer. And, in this case, I think that what he did counts as attempted murder. I'm OK with 14-year sentences for that.

    • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Tuesday March 11 2014, @08:44PM

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Tuesday March 11 2014, @08:44PM (#14837) Homepage Journal

      What does an extensive past criminal history have to do with anything?

      Everything, and it should. Look, the guy rips off a liquor store and gets two years probation, you think after his probation is up and he commits another robbery you think he should get probation again? You spend a month in the county jail for putting someone in the hospital and think you should get probation for threatening more people with his sociopathic behavior? Really?

      He has been convicted over and over of harming and endangering people. And you think 14 years is cruel and unusual? No, the five years in the Federal pen my friend's brother got for loaning money to a dope dealer was cruel and unusual. 14 years for repeatedly putting people in danger is certainly not.

      You think if I shoot at you and miss I shouldn't be behind bars? That's exactly what he did, lasers can bring down aircraft (autos as well, the laser makes it impossible to see out the windshield) and if you're enough of a sociopath you're willing to risk people's lives for your own evil pleasure, you should be behind bars.

      Especially if you keep endangering people over and over, as this guy has been proven to do.

      --
      Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
      • (Score: 1) by hatta on Tuesday March 11 2014, @09:07PM

        by hatta (879) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @09:07PM (#14861)

        Look, the guy rips off a liquor store and gets two years probation, you think after his probation is up and he commits another robbery you think he should get probation again?

        As long as there is a prohibition against double jeopardy in the Constitution, yes. If you want people to be punished repeatedly for the same crime, you have to amend the Constitution to allow it. Or have a justice system that does not follow the rule of law.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by mcgrew on Wednesday March 12 2014, @01:33AM

          by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Wednesday March 12 2014, @01:33AM (#14974) Homepage Journal

          You're not punishing him twice for the same crime, you're punishing him more harshly the second time because obviously in his case the punishment was completely ineffective. Look, take drunk drivers. Society wants to keep them off the highways because they're a menace to everyone. Get caught once, get a low fine and go drinking again? You're showing little logic here.

          --
          Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
          • (Score: 2) by hatta on Wednesday March 12 2014, @03:32PM

            by hatta (879) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @03:32PM (#15320)

            You're not punishing him twice for the same crime, you're punishing him more harshly the second time

            I don't see the difference at all. Getting 5 years for the first crime and getting 10 years for the second crime is exactly the same as getting 5 years for the first crime and getting 5 years for the second crime plus 5 years for the first crime again. If anything, the latter is the more honest way of portraying it, because that last 5 years wouldn't exist if not for the first crime.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @06:14AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @06:14AM (#15734)

            Then rewrite the specific law to provide a higher maximum penalty.

            The issue at stake is being sentenced to time above and beyond the maximum permitted. That is cruel and unusual. If we give someone a higher-than-maximum-allowable-by-law penalty because they've done it before, and the law makes no mention of an exception to the maximum, that's double jeopardy.

            If we put a maximum of less than life in jail for a particular crime, without regard to repeat offenses, that says that we consider that crime to be minor enough that a person should never give up the rest of their life for it (excepting elderly people, clearly). That, or amend the Constitution to remove the prohibition on double jeopardy.

            The issue is not what the person deserves--the issue is the arbitrary application of the legal system in areas which are supposed to be well-defined, without wiggle room. How I personally feel about this person makes absolutely no difference with respect to the law-as-stated and does not, under any circumstances, make it legal to ignore the law and apply arbitrary sentencing. That merely makes the enforcers of the law criminals themselves, even if unprosecuted.