Judge bans man from romantic relationships
Plus, other strange criminal sentences having to do with matters of the heart.
By Gena Kaufman
The former lawyer in me was totally intrigued by this story I read this morning involving a very unusual combination of a judge's sentence in court and a defendant's love life. It's not often I get to combine my former and current jobs, you guys! Here's what I read about today:
Sentenced to: Take a break from dating
A Nebraska judge doled out an unusual sentence for a man who was part of an attempted burglary, but hesitated at the last minute and didn't go forward with it. Because the judge deemed the defendant had a "moral compass," he sentenced him to a fee and probation--and part of the terms of probation is a ban on romantic relationships. The judge, like everyone giving post-breakup advice, actually said, "You need to focus on you."
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Previously-licensed-to-practice-law Gena said "Hmm, I'm not really sure that's constitutional," but current-dating-blogger Gena said, "Hmm, I wonder what other weird punishments involving people's love lives are out there." Here are four more unusual sentences I found during a little research this morning that are at least loosely tied to love, sex, or relationships between men and women:
Sentenced to: Public humiliation
A teen who was caught stealing porn was sentenced to sit blindfolded in front of the adult video store, blindfolded and holding a sign that read “See no evil,” as an alternative to 30 days in jail. According a local resident, he was "humiliated."
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Sentenced to: Listen to love songs
In an attempt to cut back on repeat offenders for noise ordinance violations, a Colorado judge took to forcing violators to sit in a room and listen to his choice of music for an hour, including Barry Manilow and The Platters' "Only You." OK, fine, this one technically doesn't have to do with anyone's dating habits, but forcing people to listen to cheesy love songs is pretty funny.
Sentenced to: Dress in drag
An Ohio judge sentenced two young men to walk around their hometown for an hour dressed in dresses, wigs and makeup, after they threw beer bottles at a woman in a car (NOT COOL, GUYS). They were interrupted when a spectator threw a bottle at them and hit one of them (karma), but they finished their walk, and hopefully learned to be respectful of women and all other fellow human beings. The alternative was 60 days in jail! These guys got off light, considering half the dudes I know are secretly thrilled to do this for more than an hour every year on Halloween.
Sentenced to: Take your wife to Red Lobster
When a Florida husband forgot to wish his wife a happy birthday, they ended up in a domestic dispute wherein he pushed her, put his hand on her neck, and held a fist up to her (although didn't actually hit her.) The judge sentenced the man to buy his wife flowers and a birthday card, and take her to eat at Red Lobster and then go bowling (her requests for a date.) The judge said he wouldn't have gone that route if there had been actual violence, but this was a "minor" incident. Hmm, not sure I'd consider that description minor, but at least he also ordered the couple to attend marital therapy? I don't know, yikes.
What are your thoughts on these unusual punishments? Any other romantic sentences you wish you could punish people with?
Photo: OJO Images/Getty Images
The judge was hardly being cruel and unusual. It could be argued he was trying to guide the defendant into making choices that would help rehabilitate him. Judges often dispense life advice if they are truly engaged in the case. When they don't, they weren't really giving a darn. We haven't read all the facts of the case. Nor do we know for how long he was suggesting that he not take on romantic relationships, nor why that was even brought up.
I beg the question, who was he attempting to steal from, and what was his emotional state of mind at the time? Did the judge take this into consideration when handing down a sentence? A small paragraph summing up the case is not enough to determine 8th Amendment violation.
The constitutionality could be challenged in higher courts, but no one is going to go that route since only serious limits on judges are put into our constitution through amendments. It would cost someone hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight something like that to the end, and with what potential outcome? Did the judge unfairly imprison him? Take away his right to vote?
Was the judge really be harsh and unfair?
We don't know because we don't know all the details. However the last one mentioned in the article showed a lack of experience in domestic abuse issues by the judge. People who abuse others do it in stages--the national statistics are clear on this. The consequence this man got did not match the severity of what he did. This is a man dealing with anger control issues. This time he threatened to punish her. If she doesn't tow the line then most likely it won't be a threat, and she won't trust the legal system to back her up. A trip to Red Lobster hardly makes up for being pinned and threatened, speaking from experience.
Some people need help before they can successfully cohabitate with others. The first judge seemed to understand this, the last one didn't have a real clue--based on what was presented.
love: friendships, dating, sex & marriage
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