Lee Davis: 6th Circuit Discusses What Makes A Jail Escape A “Crime of Violence”

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - by Lee Davis
The case of  U.S. v. Benji Antonio Stout, involved one man’s escape from prison and how that escape should be classified with regard to a subsequent criminal prosecution. The man, Benji Antonio Stout, was charged with knowingly possessing body armor after having previously been convicted of a crime of violence. The previous crime of violence conviction was Stout’s earlier charge of second-degree escape, a conviction he earned from escaping a county jail.
During the escape, Stout climbed a wall in the recreation area of the jail and then crawled through a hole in the top of the fence.

Stout and his attorneys argued that the prior conviction did not involve a crime of violence and asked the lower court for a hearing on the matter. The lower court concluded that his escape was a crime of violence given that his escape was purposeful and aggressive and that it created a substantial risk that he would need to use physical force against either guards or members of the public who encountered him during the escape. The fact that he never used such physical force was immaterial.

Stout then appealed the case, claiming essentially the same thing. The Sixth Circuit agreed with the decision of the lower court, holding that the escape amounted to a crime of violence. In its ruling, the Court walked through Kentucky’s statutes dealing with the subject of second-degree escape and determined that the type of escape at issue in this case involved “an escape by leaving custody in a secured setting.” This variety of escape involves a purposeful act and requires stealth and presents the possibility of both detection and ensuing confrontation.

The Sixth Circuit said that 18 U.S.C. Section 16(b) makes clear that a crime of violence includes any that involves a substantial risk that physical force may be used in the course of committing the offense. Under this definition, the Court says it is clear that the Stout’s escape meets the standard and should be properly deemed a crime of violence. As a result, his conviction and sentence were upheld.

In an interesting dissent, Judge Bernice Donald argued that unlike the famous prison escapes mentioned in The Count of Monte Cristo or The Shawshank Redemption, which Donald agrees would qualify as crimes of violence, Stout’s escape was achieved by merely climbing over a wall and crawling through a hole that he was not responsible for creating. Given that Stout never harmed anyone or any property in his escape, Judge Donald believes it is clear that his escape should not be labeled a crime of violence.

To read the full opinion, click here.

---

(Lee Davis is a Chattanooga attorney who can be reached at lee@davis-hoss.com or at 266-0605.)


State Supreme Court Holds That Evidence Cannot Be Used To Contradict Written Words In Contract

Cleveland/Bradley Chamber Of Commerce Announces New Board Members

Public Space Study Continues With Gehl's Visit


In a case closely watched by Tennessee’s business community, the Tennessee Supreme Court has held that trial courts cannot use evidence outside of the written agreement—called “extrinsic” evidence—to ... (click for more)

The Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce announces eight new incoming board members for 2019. The Chamber’s board of directors is comprised of diverse business professionals who understand the ... (click for more)

Gehl Studio, internationally recognized for their "people first" urban design work, will be making their third visit to Chattanooga. On Jan. 29 from 5:30-6:30 p.m., they'll be hosting an open ... (click for more)


Business

State Supreme Court Holds That Evidence Cannot Be Used To Contradict Written Words In Contract

In a case closely watched by Tennessee’s business community, the Tennessee Supreme Court has held that trial courts cannot use evidence outside of the written agreement—called “extrinsic” evidence—to interpret a contract if that evidence is used to contradict the contract’s written terms. Beginning in 1999, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Inc., signed agency agreements with ... (click for more)

Cleveland/Bradley Chamber Of Commerce Announces New Board Members

The Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce announces eight new incoming board members for 2019. The Chamber’s board of directors is comprised of diverse business professionals who understand the needs of its membership and possess the energy and commitment to lead the Chamber. “Our mission, as a business, civic and economic development organization, is to address challenges and ... (click for more)

Breaking News

2nd Man Charged In October 2018 Murder Of Jacob Dakota Moore Of Apison

A second arrest has been made in the October 2018 murder of Jacob Dakota Moore of Apison. Authorities earlier charged Askia Witherow in the slaying. On Thursday, warrants were issued for James David Robinson, 42, charging him with one count of first-degree murder, one count of especially aggravated kidnapping, four counts of especially aggravated robbery, four counts ... (click for more)

Linda Damewood Killed, Another Critical, Third Injured In Shooting At Crossville

One person was killed, another critically injured and a third hurt in a shooting at Crossville on Saturday. Linda Damewood, 74, of Crossville, was dead at the scene. The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, Tansi Security, and Tennessee Highway Patrol units responded to 8610 Cherokee Trail at approximately 6:38 p.m. to a reported shooting. Cumberland County Sheriff’s ... (click for more)

Opinion

Senator Alexander: A Reasonable Proposal To End The Government Shutdown

A government shutdown is always the wrong idea. It is the wrong idea under President Trump, just as it was the wrong idea under President Obama. Members of Congress should first remember that when a president who has been duly elected by the people of the United States -- whatever you may think of him or her -- has a legitimate objective, it is our responsibility to do everything ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Swimming With Jim Morgan

I’ve never talked much about this – it is too close to bragging – but in my teenaged years I was a good swimmer. I loved being in the water and maybe the greatest compliment back in the day was when new UT swimming coach Ray Bussard offered me a ‘full ride’ with the Vols. Are you kidding me … by then I was into tobacco, alcohol, convertibles, and girls in angora sweaters - there ... (click for more)