In a South Euclid community, courts hand out a different kind of justice. Ohio Municipal Court Judge Gayle Williams-Byers sentenced a man who was found guilty of bullying his neighbor’s disabled kids to carry a sign confessing his actions down a busy intersection in his community.
The sign read “I AM A BULLY! I pick on children that are disabled, and I am intolerant of those that are different from myself. My actions do not reflect an appreciation for the diverse South Euclid community that I live in.”
Edmond Aviv, 62, pled no contest to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct stemming from a 15-year feud with his neighbor. Sandra Prugh, the neighbor, cares for a husband with dementia, a paralyzed son, and two adopted sons who suffer from developmental disorders, epilepsy and cerebral palsy.
In a statement to the court, Prugh claims that over the years Aviv has spread dog feces along a handicap ramp leading into their home, as well as her son’s car. Prugh also says that Aviv has spit on her multiple times and made derogatory and racist statements referring to her two adopted sons who are African American.
In one complaint, police responded to Aviv’s house where they found a homemade apparatus blowing kerosene fumes into Prugh’s property. Apparently, Aviv was annoyed by a smell coming from the dryer vent next door whenever Prugh did laundry, so he built the contraption in retaliation – police made Aviv dismantle the device.
In addition to carrying the sign, the Ohio man was also sentenced to 15 days in jail, a hundred hours of community service, and to issue a personal apology to Prugh in front of the court for bullying her and her disabled kids.
This is not the only case rendering untraditional sentences in favor of a more civil punishment. In 2012, Shena Hardin, 32 of Cleveland, Ohio, was sentenced by Municipal Judge Pinkey Carr to hold a sign saying “only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus.” Hardin was caught on camera driving on the sidewalk around a school bus that was unloading children. She also had her license suspended for 30-days and had to pay a $250 fine.
In Colorado, Judge Scott Johansen ordered that a couple of teen girls, who bullied a 3-year-old and cut off her hair with a pair of scissors, have their hair chopped off. The judge reduced a 30-day detention and over 200-hour community service sentence, only after the girl’s mother lopped off her ponytail in front of the entire courtroom. The other girl involved in the case was also forced to cut her hair but was allowed to go to a salon.
Tyler Alred, 17, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, plead guilty to manslaughter in 2012 when he crashed a truck killing a 16-year-old friend in the passenger seat. Alred was underage and under the influence at the time of the accident. Judge Mike Norman, instead of sending Alred to prison, ordered the teen to finish high school, perform drug and alcohol tests for a year, participate in a victim’s impact panel, and to attend church for the next 10 years. While some said the church sentence violated Alred’s First Amendment rights, both families in the case were satisfied with the sentence.
Some may see the sentencing of a Ohio man to carry a sign for bullying disabled kids, or a Oklahoma teen to attend church for 10 years as an overstep of authority by these judges, but in a time when the prison system is overcrowded and criminals are either hit with a slap on the wrist or plunged into an institution of career criminals often having the opposite effect of rehabilitation, perhaps this is exactly why there are still human judges handing out the justice.
Opinion by Cody Long