State v. Davidson
Case # A150292
Full Text of Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A150292.pdf
Defendant Davidson was sentenced to true life sentences after receiving a fourth and fifth conviction for Public Indecency. The sentence was based on ORS 317.719, a recidivist statute authorizing true life sentences for offenders who repeatedly commit certain sexual crimes. Davidson appeals his sentence, arguing that it is disproportionate under Article I, Section 16. All of the convictions were a result of Davidson masturbating in public, and several of his public masturbations occurred in front of children. Even when in prison, Davidson continued to publicly masturbate. In describing the facts leading to Davidson’s sentence, the Court of Appeals notes that, “bluntly, [Davidson] has demonstrated the following pattern: masturbate in public, get locked up (and continue to masturbate in front of others), get released, and—within days—masturbate in public again. [Davidson] is not remorseful; in fact, it seems that he may not even understand—despite having been convicted several times—that public masturbation is illegal. Given that pattern and state of mind, it is reasonable to expect that, if * * * released, he will reoffend. As his own lawyer puts it, [Davidson] is ‘an incorrigible masturbator.’”
The Court of Appeals ultimately concludes that the true life sentence was unconstitutionally disproportionate as applied to Davidson. In reaching its conclusion, the Court considers the factors laid out by the Supreme Court in State v. Rodriguez/Buck, 347 Or 46, 58, 217 P3d 659 (2009). That case provided a structured test to assess disproportionality under Article I, Section 16. The factors of the test are: 1) a comparison of the severity of the penalty imposed with the “gravity” of the offenses committed; 2) a comparison of the penalty imposed with penalties for related offenses; and 3) the defendant’s criminal history.
The Court of Appeals notes that Davidson’s multiple crimes of public masturbation “pale in comparison with other combinations of incidents that are subject to a true life sentence under ORS 317.719(1).” Sex crimes applicable to ORS 317.719(1) include rape, sodomy, sexual abuse, incest with a child, encouraging child sexual abuse, etc. ORS 181.805(5). Additionally, other recidivist offenders have committed much more serious crimes and been sentenced to much less than a true life sentence. Moreover, while Davidson has a criminal history that includes drugs, personal violence, and trespass, he has no record of any kind of sex crime apart from the Public Indecency convictions. Finally, the Court notes that there was no meaningful evidence of force or violence associated with Davidson’s conduct. For all of these reasons (and others), the Court of Appeals reverses and remands Davidson’s sentence.