Wednesday, November 10, 2010

U.S. v. Grob (9th Cir. - Nov. 10, 2010)

A girlfriend breaks up with her boyfriend, and the jilted boyfriend sends her twenty-two mean e-mail and text messages.  No big deal?

What if the messages are things like a text message with the subject heading "I'm Going to Slit Your Throat" that says:  "If you ever come back to Montana again I am going to slit your throat. I am not even kidding. It would make be fill [sic] so good to see you bleed as you gasp for air. I hope your are [sic] ready for retribution, because it is coming. You are going down bitch."  That clearly ups the ante, right?  Particularly when photos of dead and dismembered women accompany some of the messages.

To give even more color, the girlfriend broke up with him after suffering a miscarriage, and one of the e-mails was entitled "OMG Our Baby" and attached a photo of a dead infant.  Classy.

Thankfully, the girlfriend contacts the police, who arrest the boyfriend and charge him with the federal crime of cyberstalking.  The boyfriend gets released on bail, but what does he promptly do?  Gets arrested for public intoxication and carrying a concealed weapon.  That's going to land you back in jail real quick.  Thankfully.

Oh, and it doesn't help things that, after he's put back in federal custody, he's caught in possession of a homemade knife made out of a razor blade.

The district court sentences the boyfriend to a little over three years in prison.  Seems about right to me.

He appeals, claiming that his criminal history score was miscalculated, since it included a "criminal mischief" charge when he was 19 for trashing an apartment to retaliate against his landlord.   That offense resulted in a fine of $130 and a restitution order of $750, but it also means that his guideline range goes up four to six months.

In the end, I think that the Ninth Circuit gets it right, and finds that this offense should probably not be included.  And since the district court sentenced the boyfriend to the low end of the range, remands for resentencing.

Nonetheless, I'm happy that Jeff Grob will still spend a fair piece of time in prison.  He doesn't sound like the most in-control person in the universe.  At all.