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May 18, 2008

Will an extreme sentence deter extreme spitting?

How Appealing noted this notable article from the Dallas Morning News, headlined "35-year sentence for HIV-positive spitter worries some." Here is how it starts:

Prosecutors convinced a Dallas County jury this week that HIV-positive saliva should be considered a deadly weapon.  But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and countless doctors say no one has ever contracted the virus from spit.  And that's why several AIDS advocacy groups and many individuals contend that the 35-year sentence Willie Campbell received Wednesday for spitting into the mouth and eye of a Dallas police officer was excessive.

Mr. Campbell was convicted of harassment of a public servant. Because of the jury's deadly weapon finding, he will have to serve half of his sentence before he's eligible for parole.  The police officer, Dan Waller, has not contracted HIV.

May 18, 2008 at 09:19 AM | Permalink

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» Spitting Bullets Is Deadly from Simple Justice
And once again, the Great Sovereign Nation of Texas competes with the State of Florida for which does the stupidest things. [Read More]

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Comments

"Mr. Campbell had served time in prison twice, labeling him a habitual offender and starting his sentence time at 25 years. While in prison awaiting trial for this case, evidence showed, Mr. Campbell bit two inmates and attacked other officers. "

What this really means is that the prosecution convicted him of these crimes. Maybe one of these incidents really was assault with a deadly weapon, but the prosecution should have to prove it rather than sneaking in (legally) other crimes and gaining a conviction of those by proxy.

Spitting on a sympathetic officer.
Biting an unsympathetic inmate.
He bit the officer!

No, he didn't.

But then, this is Dallas, Texas. On the other hand, what do the jurors think of this sentence? No mention of that.

Posted by: George | May 18, 2008 10:48:00 AM

I have not read the article, and I know nothing about the case. But I'm willing to bet that Mr. Campbell is african american.

Posted by: bruce | May 18, 2008 7:00:50 PM

So the judge ruled that the D engaged in "conduct that places another in imminent danger of serious bodily injury"

Yet, there's no evidence of "danger," since there's no example in history of transmitting HIV through saliva. Hardly "imminent," since in addition to being impossible to transmit that way, the incubation period for HIV/AIDS is not immediate. Also, I wonder if a contagious illness is really the same as an "injury" caused with a "weapon"? If an officer handling a sick person contracted, say, meningitis, would the ailing defendant have committed an assault? This strikes me as a REALLY flaky result.

Readers may be interested in this discussion thread from the Texas District and County Attorneys Association collecting a list of the creative uses of Texas' deadly conduct statute.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | May 19, 2008 7:59:35 AM

Clearly, a person with HIV who spits at people deserves some harsh jail time.

Posted by: federalist | May 19, 2008 11:28:11 AM

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