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Category Archives: Judicial creativity

Chicago Tribune, January 19, 1919. As we all know from Charles Bronson movies, shrinks and their natural allies, liberal judges, are soft on crime and that’s why the whole world has gone to hell in a gay, socialist, heroin-addicted handbasket. It wasn’t always thus, however: Here’s one tough-minded clinician who had the moral courage to advocate the wholesale execution of the violently insane. Okay, he wasn’t exactly advocating it so much as running it up the flagpole to see who saluted. Read more.

pokesNew York Times, February 7, 1935. Interesting to see a judge urging a defendant to take the law into his own hands. With the tacit, winking approval of the New York Times, no less.

waop 10 19 22Washington Post, October 19, 1922. I’m pretty sure no one ever ran against this guy with a “Judge Burke: Soft on Wife-Beaters . . . Wrong for Wilkes-Barre!” campaign.

Trib 1 30 03Chicago Tribune, January 30, 1903. This scheme, though less dramatic than previous ones, strikes me as pretty sound. Though if I understand it correctly, it wouldn’t work for couples who rent.

SPANKS Nyt 2 2 27New York Times, February 2, 1927. As with the foot-kissing scenario, this method entails the risk that the malefactor will be, you know, kinda into it.

photos wapoWashington Post, January 28, 1917. Sweeping the streets in shackles is also pretty lenient by contemporary standards–elsewhere wife-beaters were routinely flogged. The use of photos to shame offenders sounds very modern: here in Chicago it’s used against johns arrested for soliciting prostitutes ( Though since the data on display includes the address where the arrest went down, the website doubles as an informal directory of the city’s open-air flesh markets.

menowant trib oct 9 1920Chicago Tribune, October 9, 1920. This guy got off lightly, as we’ll see.

pick nyt june 27 25New York Times, June 27, 1925. Baiting of wife-beaters was like a competitive national sport among jurists. Always good for a headline too.

kiss foot times 3 15 22New York Times, May 15, 1922. Judges used to put a lot of creativity into punishing wife-beaters, as we’ll see in the next few posts.