By Julie Bolcer
Originally published on Advocate.com May 22 2012 11:38 AM ET
New Jersey Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman sentenced Ravi to the controversial jail term on Monday with three years probation. Other conditions of his sentence include 300 hours of community service, tolerance counseling, and a $10,000 fine to support a state-licensed organization that assists bias crime victims.
A jury convicted Ravi, 20, of bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and lesser charges in March at the conclusion of a high-profile trial that followed the suicide of Clementi in 2010. The defense team had already planned to appeal the conviction, and lawyers for the prosecution announced Monday that they plan to appeal the sentence. Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan called the judge’s decision "insufficient under the sentencing laws of this state, the facts that were determined by a jury and long-standing appellate precedent,” according to the Star-Ledger.
Ravi, a citizen of India, faced up to 10 years in prison with the prospect of deportation, although Judge Berman said he would recommend that Ravi not be deported. The judge spoke in harsh tones, but he said that he ultimately believed the defendant acted out of “colossal insensitivity,” not hate.
Prosecutors must file their appeal before May 31, when Judge Berman ordered Ravi to report to an adult correctional facility in Middlesex. He would remain free pending the appeal.
Legal experts interviewed by the Star-Ledger differed on the likely success of the prosecution’s appeal. Some saw potential because the judge sentenced Ravi to jail on the lesser charges, while others doubted that the judge could be forced to sentence someone without mandatory guidelines.
“In assessing Monday’s sentence, legal experts say the prosecutor’s office has a case now that the judge gave Ravi jail time on lesser charges of hindering apprehension and tampering with witnesses,” reported the Star-Ledger. “Both charges carry a presumption of no jail time. Meanwhile, the three bias counts, which the judge gave Ravi probation for, do carry a presumption of prison time.”
The case has divided the gay community, with some like Dan Savage and former governor James McGreevey calling for a lenient sentence. However, even some of those who supported a “balanced” approach, like the lobbying group Garden State Equality, expressed dissatisfaction with the judge's decision. Meanwhile, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has advocated against cyber-bullying, called the sentence “an outrageous slap in the face to all who believe in equal justice for all.”