Old School Judge Makes Offenders Think Twice With Creative Sentences

The Ohio judge's no-nonsense style has given way to creative, effective and entertaining punishments.

Michael A. Cicconetti is a small-town Ohio judge who has made national headlines over the years for his unique but effective sentences. Cicconetti, who’s approaching 70, is a sharp Italian with a quick wit who dispenses what he calls creative justice. The judge often leaves the choice to the offender, who is faced with spending time in jail or undergoing one of Cicconetti’s punishments. In all cases the judge attempts to place a link between the offense and the punishment.

In exchange for a reduced prison sentence, he famously offered 26-year-old Ohio housewife Michelle Murray the option of spending a cold night in the woods after she abandoned three dozen kittens in a forest during the winter. “You don’t do that. You don’t leave these poor little animals out and, yes, I wanted to set an example for her future conduct or anybody else who was contemplating doing such a thing,” he said, with the kind of scowl that only a judge can put forth.

Here are a few more of Cicconetti’s creative punishments:

He has sat on the bench since January 1994, and he won the presidency of the American Judges Association. He attributes his unusual approach to his background. He was the oldest of nine siblings who had to work on ore boats to pay his way through college.

Cicconetti plans to retire at the end of 2019—truly, the end of an era.

Here’s to you, Judge!

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