Thursday, July 22, 2010

People v. Wilson (Cal. Ct. App. - July 13, 2010)

What counts as "immediate"? Around 10 months, apparently. Even in the context of a criminal statute. Which is why Anthony Wilson is going to spend the next 25 years to life in prison. That plus, of course, the fact that he told a corrections officer that he'd "blast" him after he got out of prison in 10 months.

Here's what the Court of Appeal, per Justice Poochigian, says about the immediacy requirement: "We fully appreciate the importance of the time element in determining whether a threat violates section 422. The appraisal of the immediacy of a threat under section 422 quite
appropriately includes assessment of the sense of urgency and foreboding caused to the
person being threatened. . . . The targeted officer had a sense of urgency and foreboding which was reasonable under the circumstances of this case. The threat of serious injury upon the occasion of release of the prospective assailant from prison in just 10 months does represent an immediate prospect of execution—not a distant event beyond the scope of section 422." By contrast, Justice Wiseman says, dissenting in part: "These facts do not prove, however, that the threat conveyed an immediate prospect of execution, as required by section 422. The prospect of carrying out a threat in 10 months is not consistent with the plain meaning of the word “immediate.” Immediate is defined as “not separated in time; acting or happening at once; without delay; instant.” (Webster’s New World Dict. (2d college ed. 1982) p. 701.) . . . . Unlike other decisions addressing threats made by incarcerated prisoners, there was no evidence that Wilson said or that Officer Thornberry believed Wilson could carry out an immediate attack while in prison; could direct others outside the prison to carry out an immediate attack; or would be released within a few days and carry out an attack. The only “prospect of execution” at issue was the prospect of Wilson being released from prison in 10 months as scheduled, and at that time obtaining means to carry out an assault, finding Thornberry, and assaulting him."

An enlightening temporal debate.