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Old 04-04-2008, 01:36 PM   #1  
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Default Probation For Doctor Who Made NWA Bomb Threats

Judge Richard Jones was a King County Superior Court judge before moving to the Federal bench. His brother is Quincy Jones. He was also the judge who presided over the horrific and arduous trial of the Green River Murderer. The Bar and the legal community consider him one of the finest legal minds in the State. I am honored that I once stood next to him when we both received an award from the Seattle University School of Law. And now if I can only be half the judge he is; lots to learn from the master.

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From Seattle Times:

A Tennessee physician who phoned in three bomb threats to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport last year to keep his plane from leaving without him has been given three years of probation and ordered to 500 hours of free medical service to the poor.

Kou Wei "James" Chiu, 32, of Nashville, told U.S. District Judge Richard Jones that he realized he was fortunate for not going to prison, and said he was grateful for the "consideration" shown him by federal authorities and their recommendation for probation.

Chiu had faced up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Lang defended the government's recommendation for a lenient sentence, saying Chiu had a "unique constellation" of qualities, including no criminal history and the ability to pay back society with medical care.

Chiu claimed in court documents that he had failed to take his antidepressants responsibly in the days leading up to his arrest and that his "impulsive" action was connected to a "maniclike episode" brought on by fluctuating drug levels.

According to court documents, Chiu admitted calling in three bomb threats in July 2007 because he had missed boarding his Northwest Airlines flight and thought he could delay it. When the first and second calls from an airport pay phone had no effect, Chiu called in a third threat, indicating there was a bomb on board the flight, he admitted in a November guilty plea.

The third call prompted the plane to return to the airport, and it was grounded for several hours.

Chiu was arrested after people reported hearing him at the pay phones making the threats.

When Port of Seattle police confronted Chiu and asked him if he had made the bomb threats, Chiu replied: "Regrettably, yes, I did," according to court documents.

FBI investigators said he made the calls thinking Northwest "would ground the plane for a couple of hours," according to court papers.

Chiu had been on a business trip to Seattle and was flying home. He missed the flight, according to statements from his travel companions, because he was tinkering with his rental car's GPS device and wasn't paying attention to his driving.

He became angry, court documents allege, when a gate attendant barred him from boarding the plane he had only just barely missed.

Federal prosecutors said the incident cost Northwest Airlines more than $81,000, which Chiu was ordered to pay in restitution.
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Old 04-04-2008, 02:23 PM   #2  
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If you ask me they should have nailed him with the fine. A DWI carries a larger punishment than 3 bomb threats to an airline

He should also be flagged and never allowed to travel on any air carrier again.

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Texas DWI
First Offense:

* up to a $2,000 fine
* 72 hours to 180 days in jail
* driverís license suspension: 90 days to 1 year

Second Offense:

* up to a $4,000 fine
* 30 days to 1 year in jail
* driverís license suspension: 180 days to 2 years

Third Offense:

* up to a $10,000 fine
* 2 to 10 years in penitentiary
* driverís license suspension: 180 days to 2 years
This doesn't even include the lawyer costs and cost associated with getting your license back. 3 bomb threats to an airline causing it to come back and you get probabtion. Three DWIs and you get 2-10yrs prison and will lose out more than this guy was forced to pay.

Last edited by ToiletDuck; 04-04-2008 at 02:30 PM.
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Old 04-04-2008, 02:59 PM   #3  
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Duck, do not give up your day job. Definitely do not give it up to become a lawyer.

First of all, you are comparing apples and oranges. He committed a federal crime, while you are discussing the Texas DWI law (and hopefully not because of personal experience!!).

Second, the judge did order him to pay restitution so NWA is made whole again.

Third, the prosecutor was the one who recommended probation given the facts and circumstances presented to him. We don't know what they are precisely, but judges are not precluded from giving deference to recommendations from lawyers, unless they are outrageous. When I used to appear in hearings, judges would ask me all the time, "so Ms. vagabond, how should I rule?"

Fourth, do not discount the 500 hours of community service. It's not easy to get those kinds of hours. Think how long it took you to get 500 hours of flight time.

Fifth, the justice system worked like it should. The judge had a lot to do with it and that is one of the reasons I prefaced this post with a description of Judge Jones. And it wasn't solely because his brother is Quincy.
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Old 04-04-2008, 03:49 PM   #4  
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It seemed like this doctor is a person of good moral character overall, and was very remorseful about his temporary lapse of judgment and recklessness at the time when he made these threats. The argument about his being on medication seems kind of implausible to me, but regardless many among us suffer a lapse of judgment at some point in our lives and need a little mercy on which to recover. The punishment seems fair and I do not think one should suffer complete and lasting ruination for a simple one-time lapse of judgment, especially where there is only financial damage and inconvenience to an offended party.
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Old 04-04-2008, 04:06 PM   #5  
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Originally Posted by Cubdriver View Post
It seemed like this doctor is a person of good moral character overall, and was very remorseful about his temporary lapse of judgment and recklessness at the time when he made these threats. The argument about his being on medication seems kind of implausible to me, but regardless many among us suffer a lapse of judgment at some point in our lives and need a little mercy on which to recover. The punishment seems fair and I do not think one should suffer complete and lasting ruination for a simple one-time lapse of judgment, especially where there is only financial damage and inconvenience to an offended party.
Knowing the whole story, including the medication issues, I tend to agree that the decision was reasonable. He didn't actually plant a bomb or endanger anyone.
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Old 04-04-2008, 04:24 PM   #6  
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I hasten to admit that TD raises a valid concern, because in several or many occupations there are dire implications if an employee accrues even a single DUI/ DWI. For example, engineers are subject to scrutiny in public record, such that if they get a single DUI then they likely can expect a pink slip very soon. The reason is not at all moral or personal. It is that if there is a failure in the work the employee performs a lawsuit often follows and the company will lose a lot more money than they would if they hired somebody else. Still, I do not think the law or even the companies should be totally unforgiving. At the end of the day we all have to operate by our conviction or convictions, and we are all human.
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Old 04-04-2008, 04:36 PM   #7  
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Originally Posted by Cubdriver View Post
I hasten to admit that TD raises a valid concern, because in several or many occupations there are dire implications if an employee accrues even a single DUI/ DWI. For example, engineers are subject to scrutiny in public record, such that if they get a single DUI then they likely can expect a pink slip very soon. The reason is not at all moral or personal. It is that if there is a failure in the work the employee performs a lawsuit often follows and the company will lose a lot more money than they would if they hired somebody else. Still, I do not think the law or even the companies should be totally unforgiving. At the end of the day we all have to operate by our conviction or convictions, and we are all human.
Yeah, good point. If he's medically unstable enough to do this, he should probably have his medical license yanked...not punitive, but to protect his patients. I think a lawyer would get disbarred.
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Old 04-04-2008, 04:59 PM   #8  
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Take the guy out back and shoot him!
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Old 04-04-2008, 05:17 PM   #9  
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Originally Posted by rickair7777 View Post
Knowing the whole story, including the medication issues, I tend to agree that the decision was reasonable. He didn't actually plant a bomb or endanger anyone.
I disagree that he didn't endanger anybody. He most certainly did. Evacuating an aircraft because there may be a bomb on it leaves a lot of room for panic-related injuries. Having said that, though, I think his sentence was reasonable, considering his apparent regret and cooperation, indicating that he isn't likely to do this again. That's still a pretty penny he's got to pay...
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Old 04-04-2008, 05:32 PM   #10  
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Originally Posted by vagabond View Post
Duck, do not give up your day job. Definitely do not give it up to become a lawyer.

First of all, you are comparing apples and oranges. He committed a federal crime, while you are discussing the Texas DWI law (and hopefully not because of personal experience!!).

Second, the judge did order him to pay restitution so NWA is made whole again.

Third, the prosecutor was the one who recommended probation given the facts and circumstances presented to him. We don't know what they are precisely, but judges are not precluded from giving deference to recommendations from lawyers, unless they are outrageous. When I used to appear in hearings, judges would ask me all the time, "so Ms. vagabond, how should I rule?"

Fourth, do not discount the 500 hours of community service. It's not easy to get those kinds of hours. Think how long it took you to get 500 hours of flight time.

Fifth, the justice system worked like it should. The judge had a lot to do with it and that is one of the reasons I prefaced this post with a description of Judge Jones. And it wasn't solely because his brother is Quincy.
I just feel like there is an imbalance in the system. Not that the judge did anything wrong. Obviously he operated within the law. I think the law needs to be changed. What about all those pax that were scared to death? I've been on a plane where we actually stopped on an active runway in Heathrow because of people who were believed to be associated with Al-Qaeda. We were flying into Washington DC. You can't imagine the scare when we took back off 4hrs later. We knew things had been checked but it was still a scare. This person purposely caused an aircraft to return with pax on board who were probably scared out of their minds. Just because they bought a ticket. He can pick up trash on the side of the road for 500hrs and pay his little fine but what about his debt to the pax? I still think he was taken way too easy on. On a topic so hot as this he should be made an example of. The legal minimums need to be raised. All my opinion of course but this is right up there with making threats on the president from the lobby of the White House to me.

I'm no lawyer or judge, if I was I wouldn't vega on email speed dial, but the medication issue is weak. He was coherent enough to operate a vehicle, to fiddle with a GPS, he was coherent enough to make multiple attempts to stop the flight. I don't believe the "medication" issue for one second. It seems like every time there's an incident they try and pass the buck on medication.

If he was on medication why does it matter? He still performed the act. Are we saying that with medication he's incapable of being held accountable for his actions? Not me. The stuff doesn't alleviate a person of responsibility. I don't read that on the labels of anything I've ever taken. Medication or not it's confirmed this person blatantly did something EVERYONE knows they aren't to do. I don't care about regret. Most people only regret once caught. I'm pretty sure most criminals in jail regret their actions while the ones at large are living it up.

Vega as a lawyer you know there needs to be an argument made as best possible for both sides. I guess it's you and me!

Last edited by ToiletDuck; 04-04-2008 at 05:45 PM.
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