An Ohio judge decided to get creative with his sentencing of a woman who had pepper sprayed a male relative at their place of employment: Allow her victim to pepper spray her in the face in the courtroom and serve three days of community service.
Or she could just spend 30 days in jail.
Judge Michael Cicconetti, who is known around the town of Painesville for his unconventional sentences, presented the two choices to Diamond Gaston, 21, in court on Thursday. Gaston chose sentencing by pepper spray. The strange scene was captured on courtroom security cameras.
The judge reportedly came up with the strange, yet physically harmless sentence when he asked the victim what he would like to see happen. The relative responded that he wanted to pepper spray Gaston back.
The judge initially laughed it off, but then came up with his plan to use saline as not to harm her, but still instill the moment of fear. Cicconetti says that he even had the baliff spray him in the face and eyes three times to make sure it would not cause any physical discomfort. The saline solution is used by police departments for training.
Gaston wasn’t the only one who walked out of Cicconetti’s courtroom with an odd sentence that day. The creative judge also sentenced a woman who had stiffed a cab driver on a 30-mile trip to walk 30-miles around the county fairgrounds over the course of 48 hours. The walk will be monitored by GPS to insure she completes the entire distance.
When asked by ABC what his most memorable sentence was, he said it was sentencing a woman who had attempted to abandon 35 kittens to sleep in the woods.
The judge explained that he likes to give the victims a sense of “vengeance,” he also stated he tries to instill fear in those who enter his courtroom.
“I don’t want people coming back to my courtroom so I’m not afraid to scare them straight,” Cicconetti told ABC. “It’s not necessarily only about an eye for an eye,” he continued. “I want everyone in my courtroom, including the victims, to feel like justice was served.”
Cicconetti told the Huffington Post that traditional sentencing, especially for first-time offenders, doesn’t do much to show defendants the impact of their actions.
Cicconetti, who has been doling out these unusual punishments since the mid-1990s, has been accused by critics of seeking headlines. But he says he mostly reserves these sentences for first-time offenders. And even then, only about one percent of his cases receive these types of sentencing.
However, he wishes more judges would implement similar sentencing guidelines for first-time offenders who are young and impressionable because he discovered that it reduces recidivism.
And who could argue with that?