Last week, the Drudge Report picked up on a story in the Lincoln (Ne.) Journal-Star of a very interesting criminal case involving a college student sent to jail for 30 days for hosting a big party at his house. From the story:
Mike Herchenbach was sure he would get a fine. He’d pay a couple hundred dollars, like his roommates, and go on with his life, even though he wasn’t at the party that got out of hand at his rental house. After all, his name was on the lease.
But what he didn’t expect, and hardly believed, was what Lancaster County Court Judge Gale Pokorny had in mind as his punishment for maintaining a disorderly house last Oct. 2.
Herchenbach remembered his attorney from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln reaching for a work-release form, which would get him out of jail so he could work while serving his sentence.
He didn’t need it. It’s only a weekend, he remembered saying.
But Pokorny didn’t say three days in jail. He said 30.
The story indicated that the sentencing judge issued a written sentencing order explaining her decision, and so I contacted the journalist, Lori Pilger, asking if she might have a copy of the order that she could share. She very graciously agreed, and mailed me a copy of the 3-page order. I had it scanned in as a .pdf, and have posted it here: State v. Herchenbach Sentencing Order.
The sentencing order is probably of primary interest to other criminal law professors out there. Written sentencing orders applying the theories of punishment to a criminal case are rare, and first-year law students are likely to have unusually strong and deeply felt views about what kind of sentence is appropriate in a case like this. The opinion is not exactly the work of Learned Hand, but it’s a quick read and should lead to very engaging class discussion.