It's one thing for a judge to be corrupt -- we sort of expect that to happen in all public jobs, because we watch the news. It's quite another for judges to be hilarious lunatics, criminally lazy schemers or just impossibly evil. Yet it happens, and more often than you'd think.
#5. Mark "Mr. Zero Tolerance" Ciavarella Gets Rich on Children's Tears
Judge Mark Ciavarella earned his nickname, "Mr. Zero Tolerance," because he was a firm believer in giving harsh sentences to juvenile delinquents, even if all they did was slap a friend who slapped them first or take their mom's car for a joyride. And if he made himself disgustingly (and illegally) rich while doing so, well, that was just the icing on top of a delicious cake made from the suffering of thousands of kids.
We were going to lable this NSFW until we realized it wasn't an actual penis.
While sitting on the bench as a juvenile court judge in Luzerne County, PA, Ciavarella personally sent thousands of children to a local detention center. One 10-year-old girl was sentenced to one degrading, horrifying month in the center for accidentally setting her house on fire while playing with a lighter, even though the landlord didn't want to press charges. An 11-year-old got nearly two years for taking out his mother's car and driving it over a curb (she only reported it because of the insurance), and a 14-year-old got three months for making fun of a teacher on MySpace. Most of these kids didn't have lawyers, and their hearings often lasted less than two minutes.
Via ABC News
"They said 'MySpace' and I was like, 'Ugh, guilty.'"
Judge Ciavarella always claimed he was doing this for the good of the kids, but it turns out that "kids" was just a code word for the condo in Florida that he bought thanks to those sentences. You see, Ciavarella had a special arrangement with the owners of the private detention center he sent all these kids to: For each kid that ended up there, he would receive a generous kickback from the facility, which in time would accrue to upwards of a million dollars.
This went on for years. At some point he had to look at himself in the mirror and wonder if life was just an '80s movie, and he was the main villain.
Eventually Ciavarella's method became too obvious for the courts to ignore: His convictions went from 4.5 percent when he took office in 1997 to 26 percent by 2004. He was sentenced to 27 years in prison, but not before causing around 4,000 previous convictions to be overturned. Personally, we would have taken a page from his colleague Judge Michael Cicconetti below and thrown him into the juvenile center for 30 hours with those 4,000 kids.
We'd be completely fine with an amendment to give every American the right to kick this man in the balls once.
#4. Carol "Set 'Em Free" Feinman Couldn't Give Less of a Shit
Judge Carol Feinman had a pretty comfortable job at the New York Civil Court in Brooklyn -- until duty called, and she was assigned to help out with the heavy backlog of criminal cases in the Bronx. For whatever reason, Feinman wasn't pleased with the move, which most judges would consider a promotion -- maybe she thought the quality of life in her new neighborhood wasn't as good as in Brooklyn. Naturally, she decided to deal with this by intentionally making the Bronx more dangerous than it was before she got there.
Via NY Post
On a slow day, she'd just start lobbing grenades into the spectator seats.
Since asking her bosses to send her back to her cushier post wouldn't look very good, Feinman took a more subtle route: She set out to prove that she sucked at her new job more than anyone on the entire planet. Unfortunately, said job was being a criminal judge, and as such her plan involved letting dangerous criminals go free with increasingly ridiculous excuses. In one case, she released a self-professed career criminal after he left traces of his DNA on a church safe he had robbed ... because she claimed he was too clever to be caught. In her own words, "I think his past history would indicate that if he were to commit a burglary, he would be smart enough to wear gloves."
Via NY Post
"The defendant has claimed innocence -- who are we to accuse him of lying?"
Another criminal was lucky enough to land in Feinman's court after being captured by the police when his victim fought back and wrestled his gun away. Judge Feinman took one look at the victim and decided he didn't look badass enough to overpower his attacker, setting the criminal free on those grounds. Not only did she essentially call an innocent victim a pussy and a liar; she also knowingly released a man who less than a month earlier had been arrested for weapons possession and had prior arrests for gang violence and drugs. But, you know, Brooklyn!
When the media approached her for comment on her recent decisions, she proved what a classy lady she really was by stating, "Get the fuck away from me or I'm calling the police." The police, however, weren't big fans of Judge Feinman, either -- one officer stated that "The only thing she should decide is what to have for lunch."
Via NY Post
Though with that outfit, we'd suggest nothing with any sort of sauce involved.
Feinman's negligence eventually got the attention of her superiors, and as punishment for doing the exact opposite of her job, they ... gave her exactly what she wanted. Feinman was quietly transferred back to the Brooklyn Civil Court, a move that another Bronx detective described as "good news for the Bronx and bad news for the people of Brooklyn."
#3. Michael "Creative Justice" Cicconetti Hands Out the Most Bizarre Sentences Ever
Judge Michael Cicconetti is by far the least evil person in this list -- in fact, we believe he's just honesty trying to do good. He is also, however, by far the craziest.
They made him remove his "macaroni hat" for this photo.
Cicconetti became known in Painsville, OH, for using his court to dish out what he calls "creative justice" -- unusual sentences involving stuff like holding a sign in front of the porn shop you stole from (while blindfolded), or being forced to spend hours with a pig or donkey for insulting cops and Jesus, respectively. But then it gets really strange.
"And on mile five, you are to eat that donkey. Alive."
One woman was sentenced to spend an entire night at a remote spot in the middle of the woods for abandoning 35 kittens that were dropped at her door. The woman wasn't allowed to carry any food or anything to cover herself but the clothes she was wearing. When he learned it would be really cold that night, Cicconetti made one concession: He let her make a fire to warm herself.
Another man was given a similar sentence for playing his car stereo too loud. According to Cicconetti, sitting in the woods would help him to "appreciate the silence." At least there's some sort of logic behind most of these; others are just bizarre. Three men arrested for soliciting were sentenced to stand in the street wearing giant chicken costumes, because, you know ... prostitutes are chicks, we guess ... and they're the farmers?
Maybe he's going for some sort of "getting laid" pun? Because of eggs, and ... we give up.
It's like at some point he stopped being a real judge and became some sort of comic book character whose gimmick is ironic punishments. Any day now we expect him to transform a criminal into a tree and cut him down with a chainsaw.
Sometimes the sentences are too harsh for the crime, and other times they're not nearly harsh enough. When a man was convicted of shooting his dog in the head, Cicconetti offered to trade his six-month sentence for 20 days in a dog costume teaching kids about traffic safety and drug abuse (because that's exactly the kind of man we want around children). Another time, he sentenced a nanny who beat a little boy to read a folder full of articles on child abuse, then discuss them in public.
"You like burning the American flag? Let's see how you like having sex with it in public for a few hours."
We should note, however, that Cicconetti always offers the crazy punishment as an alternative to a traditional sentence, and the people convicted are free to choose which one they want. So there's that.