This Shit Breaks My Heart!

I got an email this morning subject line: Urgent. It was a lead for JJC. I bit. Oy Vey.  Get ready for this one — a dirty dirty opinion outta the First Circuit.  NOT for the easy-queasy.

A man with not very strong bowels, ironically named Strong, entered federal court in maine to do sum bidness. 

He realized in line for security that he was pooping his pants.  Suffice to say, the man has some medical issues.  The deputy rushed him to the bathroom wherein he had explosive diarrhea.  We are not talking about some watery poop in the toilet people.  We are talking about something like “spilled spaghetti sauce and there’s meat” as far as the eye can see. Poop in the toilet. Poop on the walls. Poop on the floor. Poop on the dispensers. Poop. Poop. And more Poop. Now, Strong disputed the strength of the explosion.  He said there were exaggerations about the placement of the feces, that it was entirely unintentional, and the mess came from his failed attempts to clean up after himself.  

This poor man not only suffered the humiliation of publicly pooping his pants, having explosive diarrhea, but then, he was charged with three federal crimes (willfully damaging federal property, creating a nuisance on federal property, creating a hazard on federal property),was convicted after a bench trial (you don’t have the right to a j/t when you poop your pants) (kidding, when max sentence is 6 months) and was sentenced to 7 days in jail.

On appeal, the 1st Circuit upheld his conviction finding there was sufficient evidence.  It goes without saying that it was undisputed that there was sufficient poop. The question on appeal was whether there was sufficient evidence that this poor guy was acting willfully. There was also dispute over whether the government needed to prove willfulness or knowledge for two of three crimes. That’s neither here nor there.  At the end of the day a dude walked into a court house, had explosive diarrhea and then got sentenced to 7 days in jail for said diarrhea.  Not what Pooh Bear envisioned when he talks about the rumblies in his tumblies.

The majority noted that this guy lost his social security benefits case so he had a motive.  I did some digging after a coworker aptly noted that this explosive diarrhea issue or underlying medical issue that caused it (he said it was because of heart medication?) may or may not have been the basis of his benefits claim. Because, if so, I’d say he’s got a good appeal for a denial of benefits.  Alas, the claim was for benefits for a child.

In any event, the majority’s logic goes like this: guy with a grudge has explosive diarrhea which they say may very well have been unexpected and not willful. Guy goes to bathroom. Guy gets a brilliant idea:

 “I am going to capitalize on this moment where I have explosive diarrhea everywhere including all over my clothes, and I’m going to smear it all over the walls and bathroom to get back at dem feds for denying my child social security benefits.  That’ll teach em!”  I mean. to me, it seams like a stretch.  But, apparently not to dem judges.

Well, at least two of them. The dissenter not only came out on the right, just, side, he did so funnily.  Here are a few highlights:

“The momentous importance of this case surely forecasts its deserved place in the annals of federal prosecutorial history. Before us is an appeal from a conviction of a citizen who was prosecuted for soiling federal property after he had the misfortune of involuntarily losing control of his bowels while on the premises of the United States District Court for the District of Maine.” [emphasis on funny words added.]

and later:

“Strong’s sufficiency-of-the-evidence claim is unpreserved, so he must establish plain error, and the evidence is reviewed to determine if there was “clear and gross injustice.” United States v. Hicks, 575 F.3d 130, 139 (1st. Cir. 2009) (quoting United States v. Gobbi, 471 F.3d 302, 309 ( 1st. Cir. 2006)) (internal quotation mark omitted); see also United States v. Concemi, 957 F.2d 942, 950  1st. Cir. 1992).” [emphasis of funny words added.]

I’d say this injustice was VERY GROSS.  (too easy).

If you aren’t so grossed out thus far and are still reading, here is a quote from his  testimony makes me feel really really sad:

“Q. What was the nature of the excrement that erupted when you lost control of your bowels?
A. It was liquid and there was pieces in it.
Q. Okay. And what did you do after it happened?
A. The Security personnel walked me to the bathroom. I walked into the bathroom, I removed my jacket, I put it in the far corner, same jacket I wore today. I put it in the corner.
Q. What did you do next?
A. Then I removed my trousers, I removed my socks.
Q. What were the condition of your trousers and socks?
A. My jeans were just completely covered in feces on the inside. My socks were covered with feces, my legs, you know, had feces all right down—down my legs and on to my ankles. I took a paper towel—
Q. Was it dripping down your legs and ankles?
A. All the way to my ankles.
Q. And what did you do with the clothing when you took it off?
A. I put the jeans on the floor, I mean this is so prescribed I just don’t—I just put it right at my feet there. And then the boxers I took off and I put in the trash.
Q. And why did you throw the boxers in the trash?
A. They were destroyed, there was no—I mean, how could I carry them home? What was I going to put them in? I mean, it was covered in feces, there was—I mean, what was—I mean, I had my briefcase, I mean, what was I supposed to do with them? I threw them in the trash.
Q. Okay. Did you at any—did you at any time reach for paper towels?
A. Many times.
Q. What were you doing with the paper towels?
A. Cleaning my legs, my back side, it was on my sides, I mean, because it was—it was a mess, it was just a mess.
Q. Did you attempt to clean your jeans?
A. A little bit, I mean, I took paper towel, you know, through, you know, through them but I just—it was futile, it was just—
Q. At any time did you sit on the toilet?
A. A couple times.
Q. Would you explain what happened with you sitting on the toilet, please?
A. Well, I cleaned myself up, I started to urinate, and I stood up again and I kept wiping myself and then I sat down to put my socks back on. I didn’t have any boxers at that time, so I put my socks back on. I put my jeans back on, you know, I’ve been—I don’t know if you’ve ever had an incident in the kitchen where you have something spill or something, you’re grabbing everything and anything trying to mop up milk or—I don’t know if you’ve ever spilled spaghetti sauce and there’s meat, you’re trying to get it up as quick as you can. And that’s—basically it was just like this frenetic pace, but it was repulsive, I mean, the smell was—and I was embarrassed, I mean, here I had used the bathroom in my pants, a 50–year–old man and I was in a federal courthouse. It was very, very embarrassing. So, I mean, so it was a frenetic pace just to clean myself up. So I did the best I could . . .”

Triple sad face.

JJC VERDICT:  Shitty opinion. Poopy prosecution.  Loose Bowel Movement.

Published by Jenny Brandt

About Me: sociology, african american studies, chicano/a studies, critical race studies, and criminal law scholar. public school kid from kindergarten-J.D. Former public defender. I am a post-conviction guru. Appeals. Sentencing. Withdraw Pleas. Habeas. Published author in the Criminal Law Bulletin and California Defender. "I do it for the joy it brings, because I'm a joyful girl, because the world owes me nothing, and we owe each other the world." Why I started JJC: My PD buddy suggested it. What and who JJC is inspired by: public defenders I have worked for, with, and next to. my clients who have battled things no one should and are still here. innocence and guilt and everything in between. My coworkers, who fight just as hard as the PDs I love, for many of the same reasons. My husband who was once voted "most Christ like" (every Jewish girl's dream). My Corgi who loves everyone. The constitution. Tabloids. My mom, for giving me a voice. My dad, for teaching me what to say. My brother, for teaching me how to say it.

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