5 Real Judges Who Put the Most Evil Supervillain to Shame
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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."
"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."
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."
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.
Paul "Taj MaHawkes" Hawkes Scams Florida into Building a Costly Judge Palace
Some judges are unhealthily obsessed with upholding the law. Others are more concerned with spending millions of taxpayer dollars to make sure their own bathrooms are soundproof. Tallahassee, FL, Judge Paul Hawkes belonged to the latter category.
His evil twin is known for respecting humanity and giving money to worthy charities.
While other courts across the county were laying off staff and cutting back on building maintenance to meet the bills, Judge Hawkes and some of his friends apparently decided they didn't have enough to do and took on a little project: They would come up with the most absurdly lavish courthouse building ever conceived, and then they'd trick the state into forking over nearly $50 million to pay for it. Hawkes' dream palace included a completely pointless massive glass dome over the main courtroom, granite desks and countertops, 60-inch flat-screen televisions for all 15 of the judges' chambers, spacious private kitchens for everyone, a gym and, yes, soundproof bathrooms.
Oh yeah, and they really built this thing.
This is actually just the bathroom.
So how the hell was this approved? By using the judges' legal experience and complete lack of shame to weasel in a last-minute amendment to the yearly budget. Buried in the middle of a 142-page transportation bill was a four-line request to fund the courthouse -- legislators approved it without even knowing it was there. Presumably they realized something was off when the judges started high-fiving each other for no reason.
That was just the beginning, though: When a member of the staff questioned the wisdom of Hawkes' spending spree, the judge simply had him fired. He reportedly "humiliated and browbeat" other members of the court and employees of the Department of Management Service (the folks tasked with actually building the monstrosity) when any dared to suggest that he may possibly be going slightly overboard with his requests.
"Sir, we just don't think it's possible to 'build Snoop Dogg into the waiting room.'"
Then there's the matter of rent: $1.7 million a year, to be exact, which is $1.7 million more than the old rent-free courthouse. An investigation into Judge Hawkes' activities by the state Judicial Qualifications Commission found that, as the pressure on him mounted, he ordered a sheriff's deputy to destroy a filing cabinet filled with incriminating documents. And even though he vigorously denied any wrongdoing on his part regarding the "Taj Mahal" scandal, he strategically resigned just a few weeks shy of an impending ethics hearing.
We're just sayin'.
James "The Rudest Man in Washington" McReynolds
The early part of the 20th century saw numerous steps forward in American society: Women were finally allowed to vote, African-Americans were finally getting closer to being allowed to, um, exist and the hard road out of the Great Depression led to profound and positive changes in the country. Judge James McReynolds was present throughout all these changes ... because he was the man trying to stop them.
Judge McReynolds, the only known living enema.
Known for being a bitter, sadistic bastard who "seems to delight in making others uncomfortable," McReynolds was part of Woodrow Wilson's cabinet until 1914, when President Wilson assigned him to the Supreme Court simply to get rid of him. McReynolds stayed there for 27 years, using his power to fight every law coming his way that smelled of progress. For example, when attorney Charles Hamilton Houston came before the Supreme Court to represent the plaintiff in one of the most important civil rights cases in history, McReynolds rose to the occasion by ... swiveling his chair around 180 degrees to turn his back on Houston. The reason? Houston happened to be black.
Plus he graduated cum laude from Harvard, which is like not even going to school at all.
McReynolds was never subtle about his hatred for blacks or Jews, regardless of their social stature. When Louis Brandeis became the first Jewish Justice appointed to the court in 1916, McReynolds refused to speak to him, sit next to him or even acknowledge his existence for years. He wasn't that polite to Benjamin Cardozo, the second-ever Court nominee with a dash of Hebrew -- while Cardozo was being sworn in, McReynolds took out a newspaper and began reading it in the middle of the ceremony, probably planting his feet up on the bench, then muttering something about "another one." This was after he had already broken the rules by writing then-President Hoover about Cardozo, begging him to not "afflict the court with another Jew."
The reason this painting looks so real is because it was painted with horse shit.
When it came to hiring legal clerks, McReynolds had a policy to automatically reject any application submitted by "Jews, drinkers, blacks, women, smokers, married or engaged individuals." Yep, McReynolds was also a dedicated misogynist with an irrational hatred of red nail polish, who would often get up and walk out of the court when a female lawyer rose to present a case. In the same decade that women were given the right to vote, McReynolds was there to remind them that people still suck.
He ended up retiring in 1941, and died five years later. Not one Supreme Court Justice attended his funeral.
"Here lies James McReynolds. This plot also doubles as a public restroom."
For more "good guys" that terrify us, check out 6 Real-Life Vigilantes Crazier Than Batman and 9 Acts of Vigilantism Straight Out of a Comic Book.