“I hereby sentence you to crappy music.”

You don’t have to be a law student to appreciate the rare tendency among judges to employ novelty in their analyses or judgments.  Many of us have heard what we first consider to be urban legends:  Stories of judges delivering their judgments in prose or song, or ordering bizarre specific performance that one would expect to see in a cheesy TV drama.

After hearing enough of these stories, we’re inclined to investigate and are usually surprised to find that they aren’t legends at all.  Perhaps the decades spent studying, practicing and ruling on countless different disputes go hand-in-hand with the emergence of judicial eccentricity.

Or maybe they just get bored.

I heard one such story this morning on my way into school and had to confirm its truth.  Municipal Judge Paul Sacco of Fort Lupton, Colorado punishes noise ordinance violators with “bad” music.

People charged under the ordinance are apparently forced to listen to annoying music of Sacco’s choosing.  What’s the most popular punishment?  That should be obvious:  Barry Manilow.

I’m assuming the violators of the small Colorado town are much like the noise violators of my large Ontario one.  The music they blare that gets them into trouble is likely pop, rap or rock.  This raises the question:  What would a Barry Manilow fan be punished with?

About the Author

Thomas Wisdom
Second-year law student at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University (Toronto, Canada).