Giving Steven Slater The Second Degree

August 11, 2010

If you were ready and willing to quit your job, how would YOU do it? What would push you over the edge?
By now I’m sure you have heard of Mr. Slater’s unconventional exit off a Jet Blue flight. I only wish I could exit a commercial flight that quickly – and with two frothy beverages in hand no less. After being hit in the head by luggage from a passenger and verbally abused, he declared, according to passenger Phil Catelinet’s blog:

To the passenger who just called me a mother f***** f*** you. I’ve been in this business 28 years and I’ve had it

From that point, he activated the emergency chute and exited the plane with his carry-on bag and two beers in tow.

My first instinct upon hearing of this event was sympathy. I hate commercial travel with a passion. I’m not a fan of small enclosures and I have a tendancy to get motion sickness. I’m probably the guy you hope to sit next to on the plane. I’m drugged just beyond the point of caring about anything and tend to stay very quiet, still, and blend into the seat. I’ve been in many planes where I wish I could educate a fellow passenger on basic hygene, plead to a parent to control their children, or explain basic laws of physics to people who are determined to get their oversized luggage in the overhead bin that is clearly too small.

Clearly public opinion is rushing towards Mr. Slater’s defense. Some people are even calling him a hero. Facebook pages have even begun to spring up to take donations or express their support. After learning more about Mr. Slater’s behavior, I’m not surprised by the charges. Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Slater’s actions could have had deadly consequences:

The emergency chute deploys at 3,000 pounds per square inch within seconds and could easily injure or kill ground crews or others on the tarmac who are unaware the chute has been activated.

Slater is charged with second-degree criminal mischief and first-degree reckless endangerment, both felonies that could land him in jail for up to seven years. Criminal law is not my area and ironically I have had a few calls on criminal issues this week in regards to possible sentences. In regards to Federal criminal issues, here are a few databases that may come in handy:

  • Federal Criminal Justice – Federal Sentencing Guidelines (FCJ-FSG)
  • Federal Criminal Justice – Federal Sentencing Guidelines-Old (FCJ-FSG-OLD)
  • Practice Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines (PRFSG)
  • Federal Criminal Justice – Cases (FCJ-CS)
  • Federal Sentencing Reporter (FCJ-FSR)
  • Federal Sentencing Law and Practice (FSLP)
  • Benchbook for U.S. District Court Judges (BBUSDISJUD)
  • Federal Trial Handbook: Criminal, Fourth Edition (FEDTRHB-CRIM)
  • Model Penal Code: Sentencing (ALI-SENTENCE)
  • Law of Sentencing (LAWSENT)

Submitted by
West Reference Attorney
Mike C.