Meet The Judge Who Gives “Creative” Sentences To Animal Abusers

Judge Mike likes to give abusers a taste of their own medicine.

Judge Michael Cicconetti is not your average jurist. When he sentences somebody, he frequently adds a creative twist that he believes will teach them a valuable lesson.


We especially like the judge's punishment of animal abusers and neglecters. Judge Mike's sanctions, which range from a day at the dump to a night alone in the wilderness, make people think twice about disobeying the law. In a phone chat, the Municipal Court Judge from Painesville, Ohio told iHeartDogs that his first dog inspired him to become an animal lover. Herman, his family's Dachshund mix, was a devoted boyhood companion whom he described as "the nicest pet a youngster could possibly ask for."

In the present day, the judge is the proud owner of a 10-year-old Bernese Mountain dog named Kasey. He added that the pup was given to him by a friend who was dying of cancer as a present to the Cicconetti family in memory of him. Judge Mike tries to give animal abusers a taste of their own medicine with his sympathy for animals, but he must still follow the law. That is, he cannot impose “cruel and unusual” punishments or put anyone in danger, and he takes each offender's mental condition into account. But, he adds, it doesn't mean they can't be bothered by a little discomfiture and humiliation.


One irresponsible woman, for example, who subjected her dog to filthy living conditions was sentenced to a day in the landfill. During the hearing, Judge Mike saidstated: I want you to go down to the county dump, to the landfill, and I want them to find the stinkiest, smelliest, God-awful odor spot in that dump. I want you to sit there for eight hours tomorrow, smelling the stink and thinking about what you did to that dog. You puke if you want to.


Another woman, who abandoned 35 kittens in the woods, was forced to spend the night alone in the freezing wilderness (along with jail time and a fine). He explained to her: How would you like to be abandoned in a Metro Park late at night and spend the night listening to coyotes...Listening to the raccoons surrounding you in the dark night, and sitting out there in the cold not knowing where you'll get your next food, or when you'll be rescued? Judge Mike heartily supports Goddard's Law, which went into effect in Ohio last September and makes abuse to a companion animal a felony. While this is a significant step forward, he hopes that animal cruelty laws continue to improve.


For starters, more education should be made available to offenders. He told iHeartDogs that just as child neglecters and drunk drivers must complete mandatory courses as part of their punishments, so should people who mistreat animals. He pointed out that while some animal cruelty is deliberate, others are simply ignorant. Particularly in cases of neglect. Yes, leaving a dog chained outside in the summer heat is extremely stupid, but was it done maliciously or carelessly? With said that, Judge Mike hopes that mental assessments will become mandatory for all people charged with animal-related crimes. He believes that, similar to sex criminals, there should be a registration for animal abusers. This way, if an abuser lives close, neighbors with dogs can be extra cautious, and shelters can verify possible adopters.


Although the judge never made a conscious decision to start the punishment he is now famous for, he said that he began to formulate punishment measures after encountering repeat offenders in the early days of his tenure. He decided to try a different method because they weren't learning their lessons through fines or jail time. AnyhowNonetheless, The judge does not plan his punishments; he claims that after hearing all of the facts of the case, he comes up with them on the spur of the moment. Judge Mike claims that his headline-grabbing penalties not only make offenders think twice about their conduct, but also raise awareness about crimes and their consequences. He hopes that people would recognize that abuse and neglect are crimes and that those who observe it should report it to the police.


Then, there's the issue of being marched into the courtroom; perhaps offenders will think twice if they know they'll have to face Judge Mike and his unpredictable sentencing.