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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT


EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
SOUTHERN DIVISION

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

Plaintiff, CVB Violation No. 6077979


Magistrate Judge Stafford

v.

CHRISTOPHER FINKLEY,

Defendant.
/

CHRISTOPHER FINKLEYS SENTENCING MEMORANDUM

Before and since July 27, 2016, Christopher Finkley has worked hard in a

stressful job, has been a loving father and son, and has followed the law. On that day,

however, under great stress and the influence of alcohol, he did a terrible thing: he

touched a fellow passenger on the leg without her consent and his penis was exposed

during the flight. He has accepted responsibility for both offenses by pleading guilty

to indecent exposure and simple assault. He has paid a $500 fine for the indecent

exposure conviction. He now stands before this Court to be sentenced for simple

assault in violation of 18 U.S.C. 113(a)(5).

Mr. Finkley acknowledges his conduct was serious and deserves punishment,

and he is deeply ashamed of his behavior on that day. He is embarrassed by his

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conduct and regrets the pain it has caused the victim, the public, and his family. A

term of incarceration is far greater than necessary under these circumstances. Instead,

Mr. Finkley submits a $500 fine and probation is sufficient, but not greater than

necessary, to punish him for his conduct, deter him from future misconduct, and

ensure he will not violate the law again.

A. Christopher Finkleys Background: Ive missed my whole life on the


road.

1. The Finkley Family


Forty-four-year-old Christopher Finkley is a son, brother, father, and soon-to-be

grandfather. But his job as a long-distance truck driver takes him away from his family

and friends for weekseven monthsat a time. He spends so much time away from

his children and wife, he feels he missed [his] whole life on the road.

Mr. Finkley was born and raised in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to Michael

Finkley, Sr., and Vanzella Finkley. PSR 17. When he was seventeen, his parents

divorced. The divorce was expected, but Mr. Finkley did not expect his mother to

move so far from home to Maryland, where she lives to this day. Although he remains

in touch with his mother, he does not have many opportunities to see her. Christopher

Finkley and his brother Michael Finkley, Jr., remained in Myrtle Beach with their father.

Michael, Sr., and Christopher were very close; they spoke regularly and saw each other

whenever Christopher was home from work.

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Christopher Finkley has been married to Vanessa Finkley since they were twenty-

two years old. They met working at a Burger King when they were in their late teens

and early twenties. Ms. Finkley currently owns a hair salon. She and Mr. Finkley have

two children: a twenty-two-year-old son, Christopher Finkley, Jr., and a six-year-old

daughter. Christopher, Jr., and his girlfriend are expecting twins in a few months.

2. The Life of a Long-Haul Truck Driver

At the age of 21, Mr. Finkley got the job of his dreams driving trucks, first,

with Big M Transportation, and then with Auto Truck Transport USA, LLC. PSR 27

28. Long-haul trucking is a tough profession. (See Ex. A, Anne Ballay & Mona Shattell,

PTSD in the Drivers Seat, Atlantic (Mar. 22, 2016).) The job demands that Mr. Finkley

spend a month at a time on the road followed by only three days at home with family.

PSR 19. He picks up semi-trucks from the factories and delivers them to dealerships

all across the United States and Canada. Like most long-haul drivers, Mr. Finkley has

very little control over his schedulewhen he is on the road or where he will be.

Mr. Finkley often begins a round of driving from San Antonio, Texas, but the origin of

his route changes each month. His routes require long hours alone on the road with

few opportunities to talk to other people. Even when he has a day off from driving, he

must spend time alone in whichever city he happens to be.

This grueling schedule makes Mr. Finkley feel that he missed his sons whole

childhood and is missing his daughters formative years, too. He laments the time he

spends away from his daughter and wife. All this time away from home has taken its
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toll on Mr. Finkley. And while he has looked for a job closer to home, there are few

jobs in Myrtle Beach that offer the same benefits and pay.

B. Mr. Finkley accepts responsibility for his serious conduct.

This summer, Mr. Finkley broke the law for the first time in his life. At that time,

the stresses of his job were taking a serious toll on his mental and physical health. In

addition, Mr. Finkleys father, Michael Sr., started to have health problems. Michael,

Sr., suffered numerous strokes over the years, and his health was in decline in the

summer and early fall of 2016. Mr. Finkley and his brother struggled with the question

the children of aging and ailing parents have to face: what is the best and most

compassionate way to care for a parent? That question occupied Mr. Finkleys mind

each time his father had a stroke and especially during the summer and fall of 2016.

Ultimately, Mr. Finkley and his brother decided that hospice was the best option. In

September 2016, Michael Finkley, Sr., died in hospice care. PSR 17. When his father

passed away, Mr. Finkley could not be there; he was on the road, as he always is. He

had to learn the sad news from Facebook.

On July 27, 2016, Mr. Finkley left his family and ailing father in Myrtle Beach to

fly to San Antonio, where he would begin his next month-long route, and he had a

transfer in Detroit. On the short flight from South Carolina to Michigan, Mr. Finkley

drank at least two double shots of Bombay gin. During the flight, he acknowledges that

his penis was exposed and that he was touching it. He also admits that he sat next to a

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woman and touched her leg without her consent. Both actions were wrong. He deeply

regrets his conduct and wants to do everything in his power to make amends and assure

this Court that he will not do this or anything like it ever again.

C. A $500 fine is a sufficient sentence.

Congress has outlined considerations courts must take into account when they

fashion a sentence that is sufficient, but not greater than necessary, 18 U.S.C.

3553(a) (2012), to achieve the objectives of sentencingretribution, deterrence,

incapacitation, and rehabilitation, Tapia v. United States, 564 U.S. 319, 325 (2011).

Imprisonment, probation, and imposition of a fine are all available forms of

punishment. And when deciding between which form of punishment to impose, this

Court must consider the seriousness of the offense, the need to deter criminal

conduct, the need to protect the public from future crimes, and Mr. Finkleys need for

training, medical care, or other rehabilitative treatment. See 18 U.S.C. 3553(a)(2). In

these circumstances, a fine of $500a substantial sum of moneyis sufficient to

achieve the four purposes of sentencing.

Mr. Finkleys conduct on July 27 was aberrant. The two tickets and misdemeanor

convictions that resulted from this incident are his first criminal convictions ever. He

has never been involved in a situation like this before. Since July 2016, he has not had

any other contacts with the criminal justice system.

This, Mr. Finkleys first and only experience with the criminal justice system, has

been trying. He has not slept well since July. He ruminates nightly and thinks about
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his actions with shame. His conduct has negatively impacted his relationship with his

wife. And Mr. Finkley has had to come to Detroit twice at significant cost and loss of

time.

A $500 fine is substantial. His family and personal income are modest, and this

sum of money will force him to make significant adjustments in his monthly budget.

See PSR 31. Paying such a substantial sum serves two purposesretribution and

deterrenceboth specific and general. The fine is justifiably significant given the

seriousness of the offense. The difficulty he will have paying the fine will serve as a

reminder of the need to receive consent before touching any person.

There is no need for this Court to order extended supervision or rehabilitative

programming. Since July 2016, Mr. Finkley has looked back on his conduct with shame

and reflected about what factors contributed to his behavior. He has taken steps to

address the rehabilitative component of sentencing on his own by evaluating his use of

alcohol. Although he knows alcohol did not cause him to touch the woman, he was

intoxicated and his inhibitions were lowered. On his own initiative, Mr. Finkley decided

to cut alcohol out of his life completely and has not had a drop for the past month and

a half. His past compliance with the law and his conduct since July 2016 demonstrate

he does not need long-term monitoring.

If this Court is considering a term of probation, it should recognize the realities

of Mr. Finkleys job. Long-haul truckers, like Mr. Finkley, do not have control over

their scheduleswhere they will be or when they will be there. A sentence of probation
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has the potential to cause problems with Mr. Finkleys job. And nobody is served if he

loses his livelihood. If this Court decides that a term of probation is necessary to ensure

his continued participation in counseling, it should make it clear to the Probation

Department that the reporting and travel conditions are lenient enough that he can

remain employed. In addition, Mr. Finkley should be permitted to report to a probation

department in a place where he is likely to bewhether that be in Myrtle Beach, South

Carolina, or San Antonio, Texas.

Finally, imprisonment of any length of time is wholly unnecessary. Mr. Finkley

has been a law-abiding citizen his whole life. He did a terrible thing in July. But his life

up to and since July 2016 demonstrate that he is not a danger to society and does not

need to be incapacitated. Mr. Finkley will lose his job if he must miss work to serve a

term of imprisonmenta consequence that will impact not only him, but his family, as

well.

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CONCLUSION

A sentence of a fine and probation takes into account Mr. Finkleys conduct and

background, while satisfying the purposes of punishment. Mr. Finkley requests this

Court impose a fine of $500 to be paid in four installments of $125 each month and a

term of probation.

Dated: March 23, 2017

s/Colleen P. Fitzharris
colleen_fitzharris@fd.org
Attorneys for Defendant
613 Abbott St., 5th Floor
Detroit, Michigan 48226
Telephone: (313) 967-5854

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CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

Counsel certifies that on the above date, the foregoing paper was filed

with the clerk of the Court using the ECF system, which will send notification

to opposing counsel.

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EXHIBIT A
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