I have repeatedly written against the use of shaming and novel sentencing by judges around the country (here and here and here). Judges often thrill the public by imposing their own forms of justices — departing from conventional criminal sentences to force people to clean courtrooms with toothbrushes, wear demeaning placards, or carry out publicly humiliating tasks. These judges often develop a taste for such power and the public acclaim that unfortunately comes from humiliating people. Cleveland Municipal Judge Pinkey Carr is a case in point. Carr garnered clearly welcomed public attention by requiring a woman to wear a sign to punish her for reckless driving near a school bus. Now, Carr has taken to making such placards herself and, when citizens do not comply as marionettes, throwing them in jail. Such is the case with Richard Dameron who refused to carry an “idiot” sign hand crafted by Carr. In the hearing, Carr appropriately compared herself to the Burger King of the justice system.
Dameron had threatened police in a 911 call. Carr decided to mete out her own justice and, over memorial weekend, she personally made a sign including the statement “I apologize to Officer Simone and all police officers for being an idiot calling 911 and threatening to kill you. It will never happen again.” It must have been a laugh for Carr and her family and friends over the holiday, but Dameron did not comply. Carr then thew him in jail for not carrying the sign that she worked so hard on and ruled that, if he did not wear her sign, he could do “another 90 days.” If Ohio has any credible system of judicial ethics, Carr would be off the bench in that time.
Notably, Dameron does not appear unwilling to be the puppet for Carr and insists that he didn’t have transportation to the station. He would be better off standing up to Carr and challenging her abuse of power.
By the way, Carr reached the 90 days with the same lack of judicial temperament as the sentencing itself. She is quoted as saying “I was thinking of making it 30 or 60 but since you said you can do 90, 90 it will be. I’m like Burger King. You can have it your way.” Perhaps, but when it comes to justice, she has it her peculiar way.