Former Santa Clara Professor Arrested For Allegedly Starting Fire Near Dixie Blaze

We often discuss academics who find themselves in the middle of criminal or political controversies but few are as serious or as baffling as Gary Stephen Maynard, 47. The former Santa Clara University and Sonoma State University criminal justice professor has been arrested for allegedly starting a fire near that raging Dixie Fire (as well as other fires). His arrest follows what appears to be a mental breakdown. Maynard served as a lecturer in criminal justice studies specializing in criminal justice, cults and deviant behavior.

Maynard’s own deviant behavior apparently was the subject of rising concern before his arrest. Indeed, what first caught my attention in this story was not just the involvement of a professor but a reference to his arrest being the result of a tracking device placed earlier on his car. That is a novel and concerning element. As we discuss in class, in 2012, the Supreme Court resisted the encroachment of technological advances in United States v. Jones, when it ruled that police need a warrant to attach a GPS tracker on a car.

It appears that Maynard was encountered earlier by a forest officer on July 20th near a fire when his car ran off the road and became stuck on a boulder. He appeared unstable and hostile to U.S. Forest Service investigator Brian Murphy. A nearby driver said that he was “mumbling a lot and having bipolar-like behavior.”  Later a second fire was spotted and investigators found the tire tracks seemed to match Maynard’s Kia truck.

That is when the Forest Service tracked his address and was told by a witness that Maynard appeared to be in the midst of a breakdown and might be living out of his car. They then began tracking Maynard’s movements through his electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card and obtained cellphone search warrants. They also obtained a warrant allowing a vehicle tracker to be placed on the Kia. That was used to confirm his presence at the start of the most recent fire.

He continued to display great anger and instability in custody. He is quoted as screaming at police in the Lassen County Jail, “I’m going to kill you, f—king pig! I told those f—kers I didn’t start any of those fires!”  That account raises a serious question of whether Maynard would even be competent to stand trial absent some psychiatric intervention and treatment.

There is an abundance of evidence of a mental disability and crisis in this case. This is someone who clearly needs help and hopefully will now get some. The question will become whether that evidence is sufficient as an insanity defense.

California generally follows the “McNaghten (sometimes spelled M’Naghten or McNaughten) rule allowing an insanity defense where the subject “is not criminally responsible for an act when a mental disability prevented the person from knowing either (1) the nature and quality of the act or (2) whether the act was right or wrong.” A 1994 amendment to the criminal code that barred courts from finding a defendant insane solely on the basis of a personality or adjustment disorder, a seizure disorder, or addiction to, or abuse of intoxicating substances.

Ultimately, Maynard’s counsel can seek to prove insanity before a jury and, if successful, he would be committed to a state mental hospital.

The prosecutors could argue that he demonstrated fear of being caught and recognition that he knew that he was committed a wrong act.

If convicted, Maynard could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for that fire.

15 thoughts on “Former Santa Clara Professor Arrested For Allegedly Starting Fire Near Dixie Blaze”

  1. “Maynard served as a lecturer in criminal justice studies specializing in criminal justice, cults and deviant behavior.

    Maynard’s own deviant behavior apparently was the subject of rising concern before his arrest.”
    Reminds me of the old trope that psychiatrists get into the field because they have psychiatric problems themselves.

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  3. “The end justifies the means.”

    – Sergey Nechayev
    _______________

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    The communists (liberals, progressions, socialists, democrats, RINOs) in America will do anything to fully and irrevocably abrogate the U.S. Constitution and forcibly impose the “…dictatorship of the proletariat…,” constituted by the radical and violent teachers unions et al.

  4. …a reference to his arrest being the result of a tracking device placed earlier on his car. That is a novel and concerning element. As we discuss in class, in 2012, the Supreme Court resisted the encroachment of technological advances in United States v. Jones, when it ruled that police need a warrant to attach a GPS tracker on a car. …

    … They [law enforcement] also obtained a warrant allowing a vehicle tracker to be placed on the Kia. — Turley

    What makes this a “novel and concerning element” if use of the GPS tracker by law enforcement was legally in accordance with the USSC decision handed down in United States v. Jones?

    Moreover, nothing in this post, which is all I have read about the matter, is either direct evidence or witness testimony of him having started this (or any other) fire — everything presented is circumstantial which indicates, but does not necessarily prove, guilt.

    1. “…everything presented is circumstantial which indicates, but does not necessarily prove, guilt.”

      This is absolutely true and I, also, have seen nothing which could be presented in court as hard evidence against him. However, there is this: “A nearby driver said that he was “mumbling a lot and having bipolar-like behavior.” What is this supposed to mean? What does it mean to “have” bi-polar behavior? Is this witness even capable of diagnosing the mental health of the accused man? Perhaps the witness should be charged with practicing medicine without a license?

      Nevertheless, all this has not stopped anyone and everyone from automatically assuming guilt and piling on. Someone saw strange behavior, the State asserted criminal behavior, and immediately the obligatory “two minutes of hate” erupted. Now, maybe this man is guilty of setting these fires. Maybe he isn’t. Who knows? However, under our constitutional legal code, he cannot be convicted of a crime UNTIL he has been proven guilty, with actual witnesses brought to testify against him. Circumstantial evidence will not suffice.

      Unfortunately, our society needs a scapegoat to atone for the damage these fires have caused. We have found one. He will be sacrificed in the name of “justice” and everyone will go home satisfied with the verdict and the punishment administered.

      True justice be damned! Someone must pay!! Drive out the evil which is among you!!! And we will take another step backward toward a society in which all of us are presumed guilty of and deserving punishment for…something.

  5. The real puzzle here is how does one distinguish between the evidence of this guy’s mental breakdown and bipolar behavior and what progressive politicians and their supporters say and do on a daily basis.

    There may be, in fact, a difference, but all signs point to the the reality that it is a small difference and rapidly narrowing.

  6. I wonder if last year’s fires inspired him to do this, but last year we had a number of hippies, unrelated, starting multiple fires. And thanks to the radical, our forests are full of dead and sick trees, fuel for disaster. Following his meeting with Trump, Jerry Brown quietly introduced a bill to deal with that in his last year in office. The bill was killed in Sacramento.

    1. I wonder if last year’s fires inspired him to do this… — Ibrahim Aboud

      And I wonder if he inspired some of last year’s fires…

  7. “His arrest follows what appears to be a mental breakdown. Maynard served as a lecturer in criminal justice studies specializing in criminal justice, cults and deviant behavior.”
    **************************
    Further proof, radical liberalism like radical conservatism is practiced by crazies. Hey “radical” seems to be the ticket! We had no idea when Reagan closed the mental hospitals and kicked the crazies to the curb, we’d elect them to responsible positions and appoint them to teach us.

  8. This fire is the largest in California history. The last time I looked it was 740,000 acres. That is a 25 miles wide and 30 miles long. How many millions of animals died? How much property was damaged? The smoke was so thick in all the western states as far as Colorado, New Mexico that residents could not go outside.

    Five years?

  9. I found it interesting that they tracked his movements through his use of an EBT card. My understanding (perhaps incorrect) is that an Electronic Benefits Transfer card is a modern version of food stamps. It is issued by the state or county to a qualified individual and allows him/her to purchase food and other eligible items. It is more discrete than the use of food stamps, less costly to administer, and reduces fraud. In any case, I’m curious whether an individual would have any expectation of privacy in the use of the card. Perhaps not in the items purchased – for example a mother who purchased nothing but candy and ice cream might reasonably expect an inquiry from a social worker concerning her children’s nutrition, but I’m sure most users of the EBT card would be surprised that the government can track their movements through use of the card. On the other hand, criminals and people who have disappeared are routinely tracked by law enforcement through credit card purchases, although the distinction is that CCs are issued by private companies, not the government.

  10. Just trying to flee the scene renders the McNaughton defense unavailable to him. You can’t try to run if you don’t know what you are doing is criminal.

  11. takes one to know one and to teach one…CA is full of nut jobs…why do you think so many people and businesses are leaving?…politics, high prices and high taxes.

  12. (music)
    The Night! They burned old Dixie down!
    All the people were saying:
    Watch out for the profs…they think their itDhay don’t drink and they are not WOPs!

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