“Stunt” Sentences: They May be Legal, but Are They Professional?


“Stunt” sentences on defendants were assailed by Slate.com. The most recent example comes from Cleveland, where Judge Pinkey Carr sentenced Richard Dameron, who threatened a police officer, to stand outside a police station wearing a sign saying, “I apologize to Officer Simone and all police officers for being an idiot calling 911 threatening to kill you. I’m sorry and it will never happen again.”

Appellate courts have suggested that such sentences, although unusual, are not unconstitutionally cruel. Slate says, however, that the point of a code of laws “is to move away from ‘common sense’ justice and its attendant inconsistencies, and to professionalize the process by establishing a standardized list of crimes and punishments that's valid in all jurisdictions.” Slate concludes that, “Our criminal justice system might not work very well. But it ought to be fixed in the legislatures, not on an ad hoc basis by grandstanding judges who act as though they won their robes in a raffle.”

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