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May 21, 2012

Dharun Ravi sentenced to only 30 days in jail in NJ webcam case

As reported in this ABC News piece, "former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi was sentenced to 30 days in jail by a New Jersey judge today for spying on his roommate's gay tryst."  Here are more about the basics:

"I do not believe he hated Tyler Clementi," Judge Glenn Berman told the court.  "He had no reason to, but I do believe he acted out of colossal insensitivity."... "I heard this jury say, 'guilty' 288 times--24 questions, 12 jurors.  That's the multiplication," Berman said. "I haven't heard you apologize once."

The prosecution, which sought a significant prison term, indicated it will appeal the judge's sentence.

Before the judge's sentencing, Ravi's mother delivered an emotional plea for leniency during which she and her son both broke into tears. At the end of her plea, Ravi's mother threw herself on her son, sobbing and hugging him.

In March, Ravi was found guilty of a bias crime for using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate Tyler Clementi.  The family of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers freshman who committed suicide after his roommate broadcast a gay sexual tryst, bitterly asked the judge today to sentence Ravi to prison time.

Clementi's father, Joseph Clementi, told the judge, "One of Tyler's last actions was to check Ravi's Twitter page" and noted that his son checked his roommate's Twitter page 37 times before leaving the Rutgers campus and driving to the George Washington Bridge where he jumped to his death....

Ravi was convicted of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering and hindering arrest, stemming from his role in activating the webcam to peek at Clementi's date with a man in the dorm room on Sept. 19, 2010.

I think this sentence is a bit light, all things considered, but the many direct and indirect consequences of the prosecution and convictions that Ravi has endured and will continue to face (including potential deportation) arguably is greater punishment than any jail term.  These varied criminal justice consequences ought also help in some small way deter others from similar acts of "colossal insensitivity," though nobody should really expect this case (or any punishment for Ravi) to really impact the tendency of young people to be insensitive sometimes.

I have no idea if NJ state prosecutors have much chance of getting a longer sentence through an appeal; perhaps some local NJ lawyers might report if they do.  Especially in these lean budget times, I do not quite see why an appeal here would be a wise use of limited resources unless prosecutors can identify some legal error in the sentencing process for Ravi.

May 21, 2012 at 01:28 PM | Permalink

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Comments

I am gladdened and amazed to see that Ravi is getting some mercy here.

Posted by: William Jockusch | May 21, 2012 2:00:16 PM

Deportation would be particularly harsh; removing that as an option, I lean:

http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2012/05/one-month-in-jail-the-sentence-in-the-ravi-case.html

Posted by: Joe | May 21, 2012 2:22:39 PM

The bigots and homophobes will be chuckling about this one for quite some time.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 21, 2012 9:52:57 PM

Bigots and homophobes have hurt gays in a myriad of ways, down to ballot measures that take away their rights, and get nothing in return but some disdain. If they actually received a month in prison, probation limits, fear of deportation, public denunciation and the costs/burdens of a criminal trial, how funny would that be? A case even many gay groups were wary about got such full court press.

Chuckle chuckle?

Posted by: Joe | May 21, 2012 10:55:02 PM

Joe --

"If they actually received a month in prison, probation limits, fear of deportation, public denunciation and the costs/burdens of a criminal trial, how funny would that be?"

It wouldn't be funny at all, since criminal punishment can only be imposed for crimes. Voting for a proposal legally on the ballot is not a crime -- not even if liberals want it to be. Not yet, anyway.

"Chuckle chuckle?"

Personally I have a bit of trouble seeing the humor in any of this. But then I'm not a defense lawyer wedded to any outcome favorable to the criminal no matter how cruel and heartless the crime, and no matter how awful its fallout.

Ravi never apologized, sat silent at the defense table today, only cried when his brother testified about how much HE had been hurt, and generally, like you, could hardly make it more obvious that he doesn't give a good God damn about the real victim.

Such humanity! Such compassion!

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 21, 2012 11:54:27 PM

I don't know...I guess I feel conflicted about it. On one hand, Mr. Ravi strikes me as a thoughtless bully and a bigot, which I could feel much better about if he would have at least said that he was sorry for his role in everything that happened. On the other, I don't feel like necessarily hauling everyone who bullies other kids, even when those kids take drastic measures, in front of a criminal court is the best or even most appropriate method for dealing with the problem.

All that said, it seems that the sentence is more or less appropriate in this case. Ravi will face a whole host of collateral consequences for his actions as well, including the fact that he's infamous now as the ex-Rutgers student who bullied his gay roomate to death.

But that's just my gut feeling about it, I don't really know much more about it than just what I've read in the news.

Posted by: Guy | May 22, 2012 8:27:14 AM

I don't think bigots and homophobes (redundancy) should (and many won't) chuckle because trivial as this seems, Ravi did not just get a "bad boy" here but some serious business happened to him. Bullies at time are upset even when they are shamed. This went beyond shaming. Bigots should be a tad concerned.

"But then I'm not a defense lawyer wedded to any outcome favorable to the criminal no matter how cruel and heartless the crime, and no matter how awful its fallout."

Yes, the defense lawyer by law is required to defend the client. This has been the system in place for centuries. It is seen as a fundamental liberty in this great great country of ours. What other one should we sneer at?

If the evidence isn't there, should the defense lawyer for 'heartless' criminals just not do his or her job? Should the prosecutor not prosecute "heartless" laws? Should defense lawyers only challenge in court when there is no "awful fallout" possible? How does this work?

Let the law reign .. unless "fallout" will occur. :)

Posted by: Joe | May 22, 2012 10:24:04 AM

Joe --

"I don't think bigots and homophobes (redundancy) should (and many won't) chuckle because trivial as this seems, Ravi did not just get a "bad boy" here but some serious business happened to him."

Baloney. The sentence is a joke. If you want to see "serious business," come on down to the Eastern District of Virginia.

"Yes, the defense lawyer by law is required to defend the client."

The standard issue cop-out makes its predictable eight zillionth appearance. Incidentally, no one is required to become a defense lawyer. It's a choice -- sometimes for ideology, more often for money. The nobility of it all.

"This has been the system in place for centuries."

So has the death penalty. May I finally sign you up as a supporter?

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 22, 2012 12:43:46 PM

Ravi's convictions pose serious challenges for whichever immigration attorney represents him in removal proceedings (assuming that DHS initiates removal proceedings, though I don't see why not given that he fits squarely within the Obama Administration's prioritization of individuals with convictions). Most of his crimes are likely "crimes involving moral turpitude" and two of those make him removable if, as I understand him to be, he's a lawful permanent resident. INA 237(a)(2)(A)(ii). Plus, the witness tampering conviction might be an aggravated felony. INA 101(a)(43)(S). To keep him in the USA, his immigration attorney is going to need to try to keep him out of the aggravated felony box to preserve his eligibility for cancellation of removal, the most charitable form of relief currently available under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Even then, it will be an uphill battle to show that his equities outweigh the harm he caused.

César | crImmigration.com

Posted by: César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández | May 22, 2012 2:52:28 PM

If this were spying on a black person, and Ravi tweeted "OMG, my roommate is black" before the incident, he would have received months or years.

If Ravi spied on a woman and called for a "viewing party," he would have received months or years (even if it wasn't bias-motivated).

This sentence was a farce, amplified by Ravi's continued failure to provide a sincere apology. I've said it before, but I did a lot of stupid things in my college days. None of them involved a deliberate attempt to embarrass a fellow student because he was black/gay/Muslim, etc., by using criminal means such as hidden cameras. I'm very afraid for the state of our society if my refusal to deliberately hurt others made me "mature."

As much as I hate to say it, the only way I see to prevent destruction of young lives from unconscionable bullying is to send a message to the bullies that their lives will be destroyed too. I'm not losing any sleep over Ravi--good riddance to another homophobe in a country overridden with them. He at least gets to attempt a productive life. Tyler Clementi, and the hundreds of young gay men who have been forced into similar fate, don't have that luxury.

Posted by: Res ipsa | May 23, 2012 11:39:51 AM

Res ipsa --

I don't know that the country is "overrun" with homophobes, and I don't know that a serious sentence (maybe a couple of years) for Ravi would, or should, have "destroyed his life," but, with those exceptions, I subscribe to your insightful post.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 23, 2012 2:40:24 PM

There are many ways to get back your ex. But the proven and which works are very few. When I was going through the same dilemma I just followed the tricks from a Free eCourse and as it promised, I got my girlfriend. No problem it works for both female and male. It just worked for me. You too can try. Hope that helps!

Posted by: Paula Scott | Jun 16, 2012 3:28:37 AM

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