United States v. Lynch, No. 16-1242 (10th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Defendant Joseph Lynch, II was a first-class passenger on a flight from Philadelphia to Denver. Defendant had consumed at least six beers prior to boarding, and began behaving in a loud, unruly manner once the flight was underway. He repeatedly placed his hands on first-class flight attendant’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. Flight attendants refused to serve defendant any more alcohol during the flight, at which point defendant became “irate” and started shouting obscenities to the cabin crew. Defendant was arrested upon landing; while in custody, he continued shouting expletives. A jury found Defendant 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 challenged the district court’s interpretation of the statute, the constitutionality of the statute, and the length of his sentence. After reviewing the district court’s sentencing decision, the Tenth Circuit found no evidence of error and affirmed defendant’s conviction and sentence.