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January 13, 2010

"Woman sentenced to hold sign: 'I battered a police officer'"

51598065 The title of this post is the headline of this article from the Orlando Sentinel, which was sent to me by a helpful reader.  My first instinct is to always prefer these sorts of shaming sentences over terms of incarceration, but I know some others have real problems with this kind of creative sentencing approach:

Alexandra Espinosa-Amaya isn't happy about her sentence. For four hours, the 24-year-old stood outside the Orlando Police Department Tuesday with a homemade sign, apologizing for hitting an officer.  "I battered a police officer. I was wrong. I apologize," she drew on a blue poster board decorated with flowers.

This is her punishment for pushing Sgt. Andrew Brennan on Nov. 29, 2008, while he worked off-duty near the Dragon Room on West Church Street.  "It's humiliating and it doesn't teach my anything," Espinosa-Amaya said outside the courtroom and before she headed to the police station. "But if Officer Brennan is happy and feels a little better, I'll do it."

She agreed to the sign as part of her no contest plea to two misdemeanor charges — simple battery and resisting an officer without violence. Espinosa-Amaya, who is a student at Jacksonville State University in Alabama, also must complete two years' probation, write an apology letter, perform 50 hours of community service and attend an anger-management class.

The sign is an unusual step but the officer wanted some type of unique punishment, said Espinosa-Amaya's attorney, Andrew Chmelir.  And the agreement let her plea to misdemeanors instead of her initial felony charge of battery on a law-enforcement officer, he said.  She is here on a student visa, but today's sentence will not affect her immigration status.

January 13, 2010 at 10:25 AM | Permalink


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She may develop a fan base, network with people who hate the police, and perhaps get job offers. The punishment is getting her media attention. This sentence may be a reward, not a punishment. Most people do not like the police. They look out only for themselves. They harass ordinary citizens for traffic violations, while allowing paramilitary, illegal alien drug gangs to run roughshod over vast neighborhoods. However, the reason the police sucks is that the lawyer has forced them to suck. He cripples their abilities. He second guesses, bullies and intimidates them when they assert themselves against the massive criminality in many areas. I would have preferred she beat up a lawyer, not a police officer.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 13, 2010 11:59:06 AM

i'm not quite sure just how they can claim he's a law enforcement officer when she did her so-called battery when they state he was OFF DUTY and working for a private company.

"This is her punishment for pushing Sgt. Andrew Brennan on Nov. 29, 2008, while he worked off-duty near the Dragon Room on West Church Street."

Sorry while he was doing this he was just a flunky with a gun...with no more right to do anything than any other american.

Posted by: rodsmith3510 | Jan 13, 2010 12:26:35 PM

and i sure as hell wouldn't do that and have to do all this as well!

" also must complete two years' probation, write an apology letter, perform 50 hours of community service and attend an anger-management class."

She obviously had a two year old idiot for a lawyer.

Posted by: rodsmith3510 | Jan 13, 2010 12:28:27 PM

I'm really getting sick of SC's lawyer rants.

Posted by: Alpino | Jan 13, 2010 3:27:16 PM

"She is here on a student visa, but today's sentence will not affect her immigration status."

Since the types of offenses that makes one excludable is in constnat flux, and any sentence over one year is considered a felony under federal law, I wouldn't bet on it.

Posted by: Ferris Bueller | Jan 13, 2010 4:29:25 PM

Probation doesn't count as a sentence for federal immigration purposes, if I remember correctly. It has to be actual jail time. If you got 5 years probation and 360 days in jail, you wouldn't be deportable (depending on the crime itself), but 365 days would make you deportable.

Posted by: arx | Jan 13, 2010 5:20:07 PM

arx: Could depend on Florida's laws (which I know nothing about). But the Immigration Act does define incarceration (or imprisonment - can't remember which term they use) as the period ORDERED by the court. In some jurisdictions the judgement is "1 year, suspended for two years" which appears to all as a probation, but, I believe, some immigration cases have decided not. I know this because in when I used to practice I never entered into any deferred or probation sentence longer than 364 days with an immigration status client just for this reason.

And regardless, why would you take a chance that some immigration court would deem it a excludable prior?

Posted by: Ferris Bueller | Jan 13, 2010 5:33:28 PM

Ferris -

All good points. I was speaking generally and with reference only to my own experience in California courts.

Posted by: arx | Jan 13, 2010 7:16:02 PM

Alpino --

SC is an unusual case. Not infrequently he shows insight, and he seems to know a lot of stuff. But he's next to impossible to read because of the reliably repeated lawyers-are-Satan line, plus a variety of other, uh, quirks that lead one to the conclusion that his elevator does not stop at all floors. I tried to read him, but the first 20 comments I saw all said something about "rent seeking," which struck me as more than a little odd, so I have mostly given up. It's too bad. I have to think he has an idea about what he's doing, but I sure don't.

BTW, I thought your post yesterday on the reasons we have been seeing fewer death sentences was spot on, as was your calling out the so-called "exoneration" list.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 13, 2010 7:16:23 PM

the flowers on the sign are a nice touch :)

I have to say that the long run on sentence fragment of section two of this statute isn't exactly the clearest statute I have ever read but it seems that florida also makes it a felony to beat up a rent a cop - http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=Ch0784/SEC07.HTM&Title=->2009->Ch0784->Section%2007#0784.07

btw, next time the police in orlando beat someone up, will they have to stand outside holding a sign apoligizing for it? its only fair :)

Posted by: virginia | Jan 13, 2010 7:17:44 PM

Alpino: You are sick of loving criticism of the lawyer profession in utter failure in every self-stated goal of every law subject, save one.

I have not annoyed you by,

1) destroying your family;

2) putting you in a cage on false charges;

3) defunded your entire economic segment by repeated frivolous litigation with complete immunity for my carelessness and weak cases;

4) loosed a client by a legal loophole who came over, hit you over the head, and took the $5 in your wallet;

5) empowered the terrorist enemy of the nation by hobbling our warrior heroes with false charges, and vicious ruinous litigation;

6) made our nation the victim of 23 million crimes a year;

7) kept our economic growth rate at 2% long term instead of at 9% like that of our good Asian friends, impoverishing all of us;

8) allowed more killing of black folks in a year than the Klan achieved in 100 years of lynching;

9)feminized the American male;

10) brought total hatred on the rule of law by the public, which is a catastrophe, since it is an essential utility product, as essential as water and electricity.

These are annoying, my good lawyer friend, and your profession really sucks. I want it to suck less. Why do you refuse to listen? Simple. You are making a good living off current conditions. You are afraid that improvement would decrease your current income.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 14, 2010 12:02:39 AM

Bill: You imply I am crazy.


Am I the one that believes the minds of drunken criminals can be read months after a crime?

Am I the one that believes that future, rare accidents are foreseeable?

Am I the one that believes that 12 strangers off the street can detect the truth of a complicated technical matter by using their gut feelings, like a lie detector, all this after any with knowledge has been excluded?

Am I the one that believes the standard of conduct of real people must set by a fictional character, a fictional character wearing a mask, to hide his identity, namely that of another fictional character, Jesus? Why all these fictional characters? To make the standard of conduct an objective one, of course.

Am I the one that failed to spot something in 1L, the core doctrines of the common law are from the Catholic Catechism, including the adversarial system, the word, element, and the above doctrines. I am not Catholic. I am not intelligent. All the much smarter people here missed spotting this unlawful church based jurisprudence, the indoctrination into supernatural beliefs, and the sole aim of the law, rent seeking, since all other proffered goals are lies or in ruin. Why would such smart people fail to spot this catastrophic mistake in the common law? Because they are making a decent living off it.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 14, 2010 12:12:04 AM

thinking more about this, this is obviously a case where a male police officer just wants to humiliate a young woman - making her hold the sign has no purpose other than humiliation - and he probably feels like more of a man for having humiliated her out in public. it happens all too often where cops use their badge as an excuse to harass women.

public humiliation still beats going to prison for a felony conviction, but its shameful that a police officer and court would subject a young lady to that - especially since they probably would have reduced the charges anyway even withou the public humiliation.

Posted by: virginia | Jan 14, 2010 8:31:00 AM

SC --

As I said, I think you show flashes of insight, sometimes more pungent and honest than typically show up here. But your most recent post itself illustrates my difficulties in following your thinking. You seem to veer off into a discussion beyond my ability to fathom. With apologies for the poor grammar, I have no clue as to where your head is at. Plus, while "rent seeking," whatever that is, might be relevant to one topic or another that comes up here, it can't possibly be relevant to the 80% into which you insert it. Perhaps the deficiencies lie more with me than you, but I'm out of my element.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 14, 2010 9:25:35 AM

Bill, I agree. Most people (besides me) can't think logically. If you disagree, you are illogical. QED

Posted by: S.cotus | Jan 14, 2010 9:35:03 AM

Bill: I always welcome rebuttals and questions, even elementary questions. I understand the burden is on me. I understand the effects of the law school education on its victims. I often assume too much about mutual language and knowledge.

Let's define rent seeking for any student reading this blog.

One may start with its opposite, profit seeking. One takes a service or product and one adds value. Then one charges more than one paid. The buyer is willing to pay the higher price because the seller is a specialist, and added a lot value. So, paying a surgeon is profit seeking, as is buying a car. You could never duplicate the quality, reliability, and speed these specialists can.

How about the rent on an apartment? That is obviously profit seeking. Someone went to a lot of trouble to provide you a house. You gladly pay him a profit to spare yourself the trouble of everything it takes to build and put out an apartment building.

If government collects taxes at the point of a gun, and provides a road in return? That is profit.

The term, rent, is an unfortunate obsolete one. To modern ears it implies just greed and the desire to make more money to pay the lease on an apartment. No.

Rent is only the cost of enforcing an entitlement to exclusive use of the resource. Any improvement is called a profit.

In modern usage it refers to this scenario. In modern economics, rent refers to the manipulation of the government by passage of law and regulation, to transfer wealth from taxpayers to people who return nothing. Armed people will force the collection of taxes, and the taxpayer gets nothing. It is a fancy name for straight armed robbery. I like, land piracy, as an alternative name. The saying in rent seeking is, "If you rob Peter to pay Paul, you have already won half the votes."

It is destructive beyond the payment of a tax at the point of a gun, and getting nothing for one's money, save not getting shot.

In rent seeking an oil company pays $1 million to a lobbyist. The lobbyist gets a law enacted giving the oil company a $100 million subsidy. Now, the oil company has made a profit, and does not need to do hard, dirty work of exploration and transporting oil. The subsidy came from hard working taxpayers. They got nothing. The sole value is to avoid getting shot by federal marshals if you refuse to pay taxes. Rent seeking is worse than getting nothing. You are getting less oil found. Worse, the other oil company sees this stunt, and feels stupid going to Disgustingikistan and gambling a $bil to find nothing. So they hire their lobbyist to do the same. It is contagious. It kills the incentive to make money the hard way, by providing added value.

The law has tremendous value to add to the economy. Procedures, laws, and decisions that do not add value but that generate lawyer jobs are lawyer rent seeking.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 14, 2010 9:56:29 PM

Did you see the size of those sunglasses? They cover half her face. How is that a shaming punishment if nobody can see who she is?

Posted by: Rent Seeker | Jan 15, 2010 2:14:44 AM

Rent Seeker: I prefer the more self-evident term, land pirate. As you can see, rent seeking has to be extensively explained as an economic theory.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 15, 2010 3:26:04 AM

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