Monday, July 29, 2013

U.S. v. Spencer (9th Cir. - July 29, 2013)

I'm learning more and more about the details of Hawaii criminal law.

Before this opinion, I wouldn't have thought that a conviction in Hawaii for "criminal property damage in the first degree" was anything near as dangerous as "burglary of a dwelling, arson or extortion" or a crime that "involves the use of explosives."  But Judge Bybee persuades me that, yeah, maybe it is.

I have a lingering, sneaking suspicion that the issue may be closer than Judge Bybee makes it out to be.  That he may have written an opinion that's not totally "fair and balanced," as it were.

But I'm not sure where that sense comes from.  And certainly can't find demonstrable holes in the opinion. 

I would have liked to have seen a more scientific (and perhaps nuanced) review of the types of offenses in Hawaii that result in a first-degree property damage charge.  But I nonetheless understand that a case brings only the evidence that it happens to bring.  Judge Bybee persuades me that there are lots of cases of first-degree property damage that indeed involve a lot of harm (or risk thereof).  The question at issue involves whether those are the "usual" cases.  Reading Judge Bybee's opinion, I can't say that they're not.

I wouldn't have thought that by the title of the offense.  I would have thought that "criminal property damage in the first degree" was a lot less dangerous than arson, extortion or explosives.

Just goes to show you potentially how little I know.