Judge Lawrence O’Neil appears to be going a little OTT with regards to his sentencing ALONGSIDE his ever increasingly erratic behaviour , even more reason that we should be concerned about his suitability as a judge in a federal district court.
Between the 24th December 2005 and the 24th July 2006, a string of robberies took place in Frenso and Madera. On July 24th, two individuals, Marcus Major and Jordan Huff were arrested in connection with the burglaries as a result. They were charged with the offences on the 14th June 2007 with a variety of violations including that to interfere with commerce and brandishing and discharging firearms. In total, 61 counts of a variety of violations were made (1:07-cr-00156-LJO-1 & 1:07-cr-00156-LJO-2).
Major and Huff were tried together and they were found guilty of all counts of violations. Judge Lawrence O’Neil sentenced the individuals to EXTREME sentencing including for Huff, 121 months for EACH of the conspiracy and robbery charges, to be served concurrently. A further 120 months for the discharging of a firearm, this time to be served consecutively and a further 300 months for EACH of the 29 discharging and brandishing counts, to be served…CONSECUTIVELY. Major was sentenced on a very similar basis with the total sentence for the defendants, of 8,941 months (745 years) for Jordan Huff and 8,955 months (746 years) for Marcus Major.
One of the predominant arguments by the defendants in this case was the CRUEL and UNUSUAL punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The Eighth Amendment forbids some punishments from being sentenced when they are considered extreme or excessive when compared to the crime. In this instance, we must consider the crimes that Major and Huff were tried for. These were predominantly burglary, brandishing and discharging firearms. There were NO human causalities in their offences and any loss suffered was purely commercial. How on earth can Judge Lawrence O’Neil sentence these two individuals to sentences that are 10 times the life expectancy of the average human? It is hard to understand as to how individuals can be sentenced to such crazy and extreme sentences when examined with regards to the crimes that they committed.
Furthermore, Major and Huff argued that Judge Lawrence O’Neil allowed the government to present evidence of other crimes for which they were implicated, yet were not linked to the counts of burglary, brandishing and discharging firearms for which they were tried. Judge Lawrence O’Neil furthermore denied the pair their rights to the Sixth Amendment in which they have the right to be able to prepare for their trial, by allowing them NO contact with anybody other than their attorneys. Thus far, we can see that Judge Lawrence O’Neil has ignored BOTH the Eighth Amendment and the Sixth Amendment. What gives him this power? Who is he to take away the basic legal human rights as set by the United States Constitution in the United States Bill of Rights?
The defendants filed motions in regards to the inclusion of charges that were not regarded as evidence in the following cases 1:07-cr-00156-LJO-1 and 1:07-cr-00156-LJO-2 under federal rules of evidence. However, yet again Judge Lawrence O’Neil DENIED both motions. In closing arguments, the defendants association with street gangs was included and as such, the court abused its discretion with regards to inclusion of unlawful evidence.
What we can see here is clear evidence that Judge Lawrence O’Neil broke a variety of constitutional rules.
- Judge Lawrence O’Neil denied the defendants the right to prepare for trial as described in the sixth Amendment, and as such he violated the sixth Amendment.
- Judge Lawrence O’Neil denied two evidence based motions that were filed with regards to the inappropriate inclusion of evidence unrelated in to the current trial.
- Judge Lawrence O’Neil violated the eighth Amendment with regards to cruel and unusual punishment.
In sentencing, Judge O’Neill stated that “It shows your contempt for civilized society and I’m going to do what I need to do to take you out of society because you are not civilized.” “You two are terrorists in the simple meaning of that word; you terrorized your victims. You simply wanted money and it wasn’t just adult victims, there were children terrorized too.”
Judge O’Neil talks of victims, but with regards to gratuitous violence in this case, there was NONE and he still felt that his 756 and 746 year sentences were FAIR?
The only saving grace that we have in such a story is that of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals who argued that there was no way of executing such punishments, as humans do not have the capacity to live 700 years and as such OVERTURNED the decisions made by the inadequately placed Judge Lawrence O’Neil.
NOONAN, Circuit Judge, concurring and dissenting:
“I concur in the opinion of the court except as to the sentences of over 700 years. The court says, “No one could dispute that a sentence of almost 750 years is harsh.” No one would bother to characterize such a sentence as “harsh.” It is simply incapable of execution. No known human being has the capacity to live 700 years. No living human being is likely to live 700 years. On its face, the sentence is impossible to execute. The United States asks us to affirm this sentence. It asks us to affirm a sentence that cannot be carried out. I do not believe that we should participate in this utterly empty gesture.”
United States v. Major, 2012 WL 1001188, *9 (9th Cir. Mar. 27, 2012) (Noonan, J., concurring and dissenting).
It is clear that the words of Judge Noonan, clearly demonstrate the completely UNSATISFACTORY behaviour of Judge Lawrence O’Neil.