FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
COLORADO(D.C. No. 1:15-CR-00320-RM-1)
C. Hartfield, Law Office of Lynn C. Hartfield, LLC, Denver,
Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant.
St. Julien, Assistant United States Attorney (Robert C.
Troyer, Acting United States Attorney, with him on the
brief), Office of the United States Attorney, Denver,
Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee.
KELLY, McKAY, and McHUGH, Circuit Judges.
found Defendant Joseph Wayne Lynch II guilty of violating 49
U.S.C. § 46504, which prohibits the in-flight assault or
intimidation of a flight crew member or flight attendant that
interferes with his or her duties. He received a sentence of
four months, followed by a three-year term of supervised
release. On appeal, Defendant challenges the district
court's interpretation of the statute, the
constitutionality of the statute, and the length of his
conduct at issue occurred in 2015 when Defendant was a
first-class passenger on a flight from Philadelphia to
Denver. Defendant, who had consumed at least six beers prior
to boarding, began behaving in a loud, unruly manner. He
repeatedly placed his hands on first-class flight attendant
Kimberly Ander's lower back as she was serving him
beverages, which made her feel "very uncomfortable,
" and she tried to move out of his reach each time.
(Appellant's App. Vol. IV at 181.) Later in the flight,
Defendant "hugged [Attendant Ander] and kissed [her] on
the neck" on his way back from the bathroom, causing her
to push him away and ask him not to do that. (Id. at
181-82, 184.) Even after Attendant Ander verbally asked
Defendant not to place his hand on her lower back, he
continued to do so. She testified that this unwanted touching
emotionally impacted her ability to do her duties.
behavior led Attendant Ander to refuse to serve him a third
in-flight drink, at which point he became "irate, "
started yelling at her, stood up from his seat, and shouted
profanities such as "f*** this airline."
(Id. at 184-85.) Fearful that the situation was
"going to go over the edge and become physical or
violent at any moment, " Attendant Ander called one of
the other flight attendants to come help her in first-class.
(Id. at 184-85, 194.) She also prepared a rubber ice
mallet, handcuffs, and a pot of hot coffee to use in case
Defendant became violent. Main cabin flight attendant Carolyn
Scott then came to assist Attendant Ander in attempting to
calm Defendant, leaving the third flight attendant in charge
of the remaining 138 main cabin passengers, including an
unaccompanied minor who had been in Attendant Scott's
care. Attendant Scott asked Defendant to calm down, at which
point he repeatedly yelled, "F*** you, c***."
(Id. at 230.) Defendant also shouted "let's
go" at Attendant Scott and threatened to "take this
airline down" through a lawsuit and negative social
media. (Id. at 186.)
attendants stayed in communication with the flight crew
throughout Defendant's tirade, which the pilots could
hear over the ambient noise of the slipstream and engine,
even with their headphones on. As Defendant's behavior
escalated, the captain gave the radios to his co-pilot so he
could call ahead to dispatch and apprise them of the
situation-an action that "[took] one half of the safety
margin away" since the copilot had to fly the plane, man
the radios, and receive weather updates without assistance
during that period. (Id. at 293-94.) Defendant's
volatile behavior lasted for roughly the last hour and a half
of the flight. Attendant Scott testified that she never
returned to the main cabin to help the third attendant with
the main cabin duties because she was afraid to leave
Attendant Ander alone with Defendant in first class.
Likewise, because of Defendant's behavior, Attendant
Ander was not able to perform all her duties as the lead
was arrested upon landing. While in custody, he continued his
vulgar exclamations and verbal attacks on the authorities.
Defendant was prosecuted for violation of 49 U.S.C. §
46504 and found guilty after a jury trial. The district court
denied Defendant's request for reduced sentencing based
on acceptance of responsibility. Defendant now appeals.
contends that the district court erred in finding that 49
U.S.C. § 46504 does not require specific intent, and in
instructing the jury to that effect. Issues of statutory
interpretation are reviewed de novo, United States v.
Jackson, 248 F.3d 1028, 1029-30 (10th Cir. 2001), as are
questions as to whether jury instructions correctly stated
the law, United States v. Sharp, 749 F.3d 1267, 1280
(10th Cir. 2014).
determining whether § 46504 is a general or specific
intent statute, we look first to the plain language of the
statute. See, e.g., United States v. Saenz-Gomez,
472 F.3d 791, 793-94 (10th Cir. 2007); United States v.
Morgan, 922 F.2d 1495, 1496 (10th Cir. 1991). "If
the statutory language is clear, our analysis ...