Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Michael Gaines

The other day I came upon the story of one Michael Gaines, in Kansas, who was recently sentenced to 13 years for battery. I'm still trying to ascertain the details but news reports make it seem like the "battery" for which Gaines was sentenced was spitting on two officers in a jail clinic. Gaines is a large and assertive black man, and HIV+. This latter fact prompted fears from the officers upon whom he (allegedly) spat. Like I said, from the news reports: this is the "assault" for which Gaines is being sentenced.

As we know, saliva is not a fluid that transmits HIV. And as any child knows, no person should be locked up for spitting. What has happened here?

I don't know the entire story yet; maybe there's more to it. But the video and the evidence I've come across so far paints a picture of injustice. There's a story here, and one (with the video) of the incident here. The judge in question has a website, and a blog, and discusses the incident here. The mostly Kansas-based press on the incident has been, in my opinion, deeply biased against Gaines. The video has made the rounds on stupid video websites like Ebaumsworld. From my preliminary searches, neither poz nor black media have picked up on this yet (please correct & inform me where I'm wrong).

12 comments:

Tom Sutpen said...

Unfortunately, the AP story (which is frustratingly light on detail) doesn't tell us why Gaines was in custody in the first place. He could have been close to a time of release on a sentence he was already serving (no doubt for a similarly grave offense); he could have just been hauled in for a blood test pursuant to a DUI charge. No way to determine it conclusively, absent more detail, but were I to guess I'd say Gaines' sole mistake was giving the law enforcement apparatus in Wichita a semi-convenient pretext to put him away for a greater amount of time than he would have served if he'd gone up on the initial charge (whatever it was). Such sordid manoeuvres are not unheard of, particularly in jurisdictions that aren't normally accorded much national attention.

Side note on the judge: It's speculative, but I would bet that she's facing reelection this year, and that may have had a powerful influence on her disposition of the case. You'll notice that blog was created very recently, and this is the only matter before her bench about which she's seen fit to explicate her pensées, such as they are, for the readers. Naturally it's a case that plays into every demented racist fantasy that segments of the electorate still harbor (marauding men of color is always a sure vote-getter, and the HIV angle just opens up another exploitable vein of public fear). She may not have violated the letter of the Judicial Conduct code by opening her mouth on the case and the defendant so soon after sentencing, but she damn sure violated its spirit. In Technicolor.

There's one bright side to look upon, however. Unless the assault/battery statutes down there specifically enumerate spitting as an offense, I can't imagine this conviction standing up on an appeal; regional biases and all. If the story gets around and he gets himself a halfway decent lawyer . . . and not some cipher from the Public Defenders office; which is what I suspect he had . . . Gaines could end up prevailing in the end. Only thing requred is a portion of the national media's spotlight.

I won't say whether I'll hold my breath waiting for it to happen, however.

Renegade Eye said...

Really interesting post.

I think Kansas is a terrible place for it to occur, but I doubt it would be different anywhere else.

Zach Campbell said...

It's definitely frustrating not knowing what got Gaines into the jail clinic to begin with--and what else he might have been charged with. I've tried doing a little searching around to see, but obviously I'm a horrible legal researcher. I don't even know where to go.

Tom Sutpen said...

Here's some sketchy information courtesy of Michael Gaines' arrest record, on file at the Sedgwick County Sherrif's Office website:

Gaines was arrested in May of 2007 on an unspecified Robbery charge and held on $25,000 bond. In October he was charged with two counts of Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer. This would undoubtedly be the deadly saliva attack. It couldn't have been anything else or they would have charged him with it.

So unless he was bonded out sometime between May and October, then it's safe to assume that Gaines was sitting in county lockup pending trial on the robbery complaint. Many jurisdictions routinely mete out harsher penalties for offenses against law enforcement as opposed to the general public; presumably accounting for the severity of the sentence in this case. My guess is the HIV angle was used solely to get a conviction at trial. There's no mention of it as an aggravating factor on his sheet. It simply reads 'Battery LEO'.

I also think they know that HIV isn't transmittable through saliva. If it was, I have every confidence Gaines would have been charged with attempted murder. This case has all the earmarks of corrections officers out to screw with a less-than-docile inmate.

Any event, that's all I could dig out. Doesn't make the case any less outrageous, of course, but at least it gives us an idea of what might have transpired.

Luke Corbin said...

This is an interesting tidbit, thanks for the links. The first thing that went through my mind was, 'Judges have BLOGS?!' - and she comments on her cases. What a world.

Whatever her motives/thoughts, this appears to be a ridiculous conviction with what little information I have uncovered. Maybe an e-mail interview could be possible.

ZC said...

I'm going to try to keep an eye on this case ... thanks for the help, fellas.

mb2658 said...

From the Kansas Statutes:

21-3412
Chapter 21.--CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS
PART II.--PROHIBITED CONDUCT
Article 34.--CRIMES AGAINST PERSONS

21-3412. Battery. (a) Battery is:

(1) Intentionally or recklessly causing bodily harm to another person; or

(2) intentionally causing physical contact with another person when done in a rude, insulting or angry manner.

(b) Battery is a class B person misdemeanor.

21-3413
Chapter 21.--CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS
PART II.--PROHIBITED CONDUCT
Article 34.--CRIMES AGAINST PERSONS

21-3413. Battery against a law enforcement officer. (a) Battery against a law enforcement officer is:

(1) Battery, as defined in subsection (a)(2) of K.S.A. 21-3412, and amendments thereto, committed against: (A) A uniformed or properly identified university or campus police officer while such officer is engaged in the performance of such officer's duty; or (B) a uniformed or properly identified state, county or city law enforcement officer, other than a state correctional officer or employee, a city or county correctional officer or employee, a juvenile correctional facility officer or employee or a juvenile detention facility officer or employee, while such officer is engaged in the performance of such officer's duty; or

(2) battery, as defined in subsection (a)(1) of K.S.A. 21-3412, and amendments thereto, committed against: (A) A uniformed or properly identified university or campus police officer while such officer is engaged in the performance of such officer's duty; or (B) a uniformed or properly identified state, county or city law enforcement officer, other than a state correctional officer or employee, a city or county correctional officer or employee, a juvenile correctional facility officer or employee or a juvenile detention facility officer or employee, while such officer is engaged in the performance of such officer's duty; or

(3) battery, as defined in K.S.A. 21-3412, and amendments thereto, committed against: (A) A state correctional officer or employee by a person in custody of the secretary of corrections, while such officer or employee is engaged in the performance of such officer's or employee's duty;

(B) committed against a juvenile correctional facility officer or employee by a person confined in such juvenile correctional facility, while such officer or employee is engaged in the performance of such officer's or employee's duty;

(C) committed against a juvenile detention facility officer or employee by a person confined in such juvenile detention facility, while such officer or employee is engaged in the performance of such officer's or employee's duty; or

(D) committed against a city or county correctional officer or employee by a person confined in a city holding facility or county jail facility, while such officer or employee is engaged in the performance of such officer's or employee's duty.

(b) Battery against a law enforcement officer as defined in subsection (a)(1) is a class A person misdemeanor. Battery against a law enforcement officer as defined in subsection (a)(2) is a severity level 7, person felony. Battery against a law enforcement officer as defined in subsection (a)(3) is a severity level 5, person felony.

(c) As used in this section:

(1) "Correctional institution" means any institution or facility under the supervision and control of the secretary of corrections.

(2) "State correctional officer or employee" means any officer or employee of the Kansas department of corrections or any independent contractor, or any employee of such contractor, working at a correctional institution.

(3) "Juvenile correctional facility officer or employee" means any officer or employee of the juvenile justice authority or any independent contractor, or any employee of such contractor, working at a juvenile correctional facility, as defined in K.S.A. 2007 Supp. 38-2302, and amendments thereto.

(4) "Juvenile detention facility officer or employee" means any officer or employee of a juvenile detention facility as defined in K.S.A. 2007 Supp. 38-2302, and amendments thereto.

(5) "City or county correctional officer or employee" means any correctional officer or employee of the city or county or any independent contractor, or any employee of such contractor, working at a city holding facility or county jail facility.

History: L. 1969, ch. 180, § 21-3413; L. 1990, ch. 97, § 3; L. 1992, ch. 239, § 50; L. 1993, ch. 291, § 28; L. 1994, ch. 348, § 12; L. 1996, ch. 258, § 2; L. 1997, ch. 156, § 37; L. 1999, ch. 164, § 6; L. 2004, ch. 48, § 4; L. 2006, ch. 211, § 12; L. 2007, ch. 195, § 11; July 1.

So spitting on someone is unwanted physical contact and the fact that it was a cop/prison guard, makes it battery against a law enforcement officer.

Buy Steroids said...

13 years - as if he killed somebody!

buy carisoprodol said...

Side note on the judge: It's speculative, but I would bet that she's facing reelection this year, and that may have had a powerful influence on her

Anonymous said...

@buy steroids
13 years for killing someone is insanely low

Nevin said...

he was in jail for robbery!

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