Brian M. Renaud, who pleaded guilty Wednesday to his second marijuana felony in six years, is being kicked out of New York State as part of a plea bargain approved by Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza.
Renaud, 31 . . . admitted to a reduced charge of attempted second-degree criminal possession of marijuana. Sperrazza agreed to place him on probation as long as he leaves the state forever.
“Banishment is not something I do lightly or often,” the judge said.
I bet. Banish people too often and you can get tennis elbow. Or banish shoulder. Well, something bad can happen to a part of your arm, though it's unclear whether a waving motion is required to effectuate banishment. Judge Sperrazza, already renown for approving the use of tasers to obtain a DNA swab, must have strong arms if it is.
As pot-sweeteners for probation go, banishment is quite an interesting one. Many a time, prosecutors have told me that they were particularly displeased with the fact that a defendant committed a crime in "her town." Many a defendant would happily go elsewhere rather than sully the town yet further with his presence. Particularly if his presence was in the local hoosegow. Leave town? Problem solved.
But then, it just moves the problem down the road a piece, unless probation is otherwise an appropriate sentence.
Banishment is the ultimate sentencing version of "out of sight, out of mind." It solves nothing with regard to the legitimate factors that the law imposes on a court in determining an appropriate sentence, other than general deterrence within the local sphere by dint of removing the defendant from the local sphere. But it simultaneously injects the putative miscreant into someone else's local sphere. Everybody's got to be somewhere. If not here, then where?
Renaud apparently informed the court that he's compelled by manifest necessity to go to California. No doubt a fine choice for someone whose got a green thumb, at least when it comes to growing marijuana. If, however, the police, prosecutors and judges on the left coast find Renaud's activities troubling, the next sentence can always split the difference and banish him to Kansas.