Fourth Department Finds Insurance Policy Ambiguous...
Define That Term #122

What Not to Say At Sentencing

I came across this Third Department case from December of 2005 while conducting research for a client of mine:  People v. Thomas, 2005 NYSlipOp 09579.  The defendant was charged with the felony of Aggravated Harassment of an Employee by an Inmate as a result of allegations that he threw a combination of urine and fecal matter at a corrections officer. 

He was found guilty after a jury trial and at sentencing stated:  "If I had to do it again, I would do it all over again. He is lucky that I couldn't get to his ass where I could shove a shank in his f**ing neck."

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.   I've been wracking my brain, and can't come up with a more damaging statement to make at sentencing.  Ideas, anyone?

Not surprisingly, he was sentenced as a persistent felony offender to 25 years to life consecutive to the sentence that he was already serving.  And, he had the cajones to appeal, in part based upon the insufficiency of the evidence.  Quite a character, Mr. Thomas is, dontcha think?

UPDATED:  Eric from Indignant Indigent was kind enough to point out that I apparently  ripped this post off, title and all, from a post at his blog from January.  It was totally inadvertent, and presumably subconscious, since I do vaguely recall the post from his blog now that he's brought it to my attention.  My only excuse is that it was a 3d Dept. case, and he rarely addresses cases from other appellate departments, so it didn't occur to me that he might have covered it.  My humblest apologies are extended!


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I think it's actually refreshing to hear such honesty at sentencing. Really. Judges can tell fake remorse and lame apologies. At least he's accepting responsibility. I think I'd probably get along with the guy.

Nicole Black

Honesty at sentencing *is* refreshing. But, you generally come across it after a plea--not a jury trial. And, it's pretty rare to completely confess--and then some--at sentencing and then appeal based on insufficiency of the evidence! Especially after expressing no remorse and essentially threatening the victim with assault. Now that takes guts!


Props to the DA who had the sense to charge this as a felony, then seek a PFO sentence.

I could never get a judge to agree to a persistent felony offender sentence - most of the persistents were car boosters, pick pockets and such and a max term of life always seemed excessive.

This one make a lot of sense - hopefully it will "compensate" the guard and serve as a deterrence to other inmates who might consider doing something as rank as this.

As per Richard's comment - in my sentencing speeches, I used to "sentence" the defendants to have to tell their families and supporters the truth - that they were in fact guilty - but I don't know how many of them actually did.

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