There is something strange about being elected or appointed a county judge which makes ordinary run of the mill attorneys start to thinking all of a sudden that they now have the Wisdom of Solomon and can make up the rules for sentences and punishments as they go along without any reference to the law.
I’ve seen it happen again and again. It’s easy for human beings to become petty tyrants if given a little power. After all, most judges are politicians too and we all know what happens when a politician is given power.
Utah District Juvenile Judge Scott Johansen fits the mold. He recently told the mother of a 13-year-old girl before him for the “crime” of cutting a toddlers hair that he would reduce her daughter's sentence if she would cut off her hair in court.
Judge Johansen figured that an eye for an eye Biblical style punishment would be just fine – never mind that no law on the books gave him that option. So he ordered the mother to make a choice between having her daughter spend an extra 150 hours in detention or to cut off the kid’s long pony tail "right now" with courtroom scissors.
"She definitely needed to be punished for what had happened," mother told reporters. "But I never dreamt it would be that much of a punishment."
Her daughter, along with an 11-year-old friend, found their 3-year-old toddler victim at a McDonald’s restaurant. They asked a server there if they could borrow a pair of scissors. When their request was refused, they went to a nearby dollar shop to buy a pair and returned to the restaurant to carry out the act on the child.
At an earlier hearing, this same judge ordered the 11-year-old girl to have her hair cut as short as his but allowed the child to have the haircut in a salon.
Apparently there were no attorneys to represent the parties at either hearing and the judge simply felt that he had free reign to exercise his power unchecked by the law.
The mother, feeling substantial coercive intimidation during the proceedings, eventually submitted to the court’s order and cut off a lengthy portion of her daughter's long blonde hair in open court.
Afterward, the mother of the three-year-old girl, who supported the decision, was asked by the judge if she was satisfied with the length which was cut. "No," she replied. "My daughter's hair that had never been cut, that was down to [the middle of her back], was cut up to here [her jaw]." So judge Johansen then ordered the other woman to "take it off clear up to the rubber band."
Later, she expressed her anger over the judgment and said that she had filed an official complaint against the judge. "I guess I should have went into the courtroom knowing my rights because I felt very intimidated, she said. An eye for an eye, that's not how you teach kids right from wrong."
Biblical punishments: That’s not how judges sitting on the benches in our courts of law are supposed to dispense justice either.