Judge Blasts Lack of Sentencing Discretion

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), February 9, 2002 | Go to article overview

Judge Blasts Lack of Sentencing Discretion


Byline: BILL BISHOP The Register-Guard

For the second time in a week, Lane County Circuit Judge Gregory Foote held his nose to do his job, complaining that Measure 11 - the state's mandatory sentencing law - tramples on judicial discretion.

"It stinks," Foote said Friday as he gave a required 7 1/2 -year prison sentence to Shane Michael Wendland and indicated he wanted to lock him up for much longer.

The 19-year-old Eugene man pleaded guilty to attempted murder for shooting his roommate, Jason McDermott, in the back of the head at close range and shooting him again before leaving him in a ditch near Marcola in December.

McDermott miraculously survived. But he's blind and likely will require full-time care for the rest of his life, according to a letter from his mother to the judge.

Wendland's sentence was dictated by Measure 11. Voters passed the law in 1994 and overwhelmingly rejected an effort to repeal it in 2000.

In a Measure 11 case a week ago, Foote imposed a mandatory 10-year sentence on a teen-ager who gave his knife to another man who used it to attack a third man.

The defendant in that case, Michael Ari Peck, 18, was a first-time offender who gave police critical information to solve the case and arrest four other participants, according to court records.

At Peck's sentencing, Foote said a shorter prison term, reform programs and parole would serve Peck and the community better by putting the teen-ager back on track rather than housing him with hardened criminals for a decade. But Foote said Measure 11 tied his hands.

In Wendland's case, Foote noted that the Measure 11 sentence was both the minimum and maximum under the applicable laws.

"This is what happens when judges don't do sentencing," Foote said in court. "This is the guy who ought to be going to the pen for a long, long time."

Turning to Wendland, Foote said, "You are the kind of person who can put a gun to someone's head and pull the trigger. That's what scares me - the idea you are going to get out some day. …

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