Judge Julian Lambert: Creative Sentencing Silliness

By James Collins

Stalwart protector of the public, Judge Julian Lambert has decided that he is going to think outside the box.  He has decided in his infinite judicial wisdom to cast aside the shackles of sentencing guidelines and blaze a new trail.  He’s burned rubber right past crazytown and all the way to the booby hatch in his quest to get in the papers.  He’s decided to turn the sentencing phase of a cannabis trial into an essay writing contest.  How novel.

Judge Julian Lambert gives the most ridiculous sentence for cannabis ever.

Judge Julian Lambert

Good work Judge Lambert, you got famous!  Now get back to being a judge instead of a comedian.

It is a proud tradition in some parts of the United States of America: Creative sentencing.  This is the phenomenon where some judge, thinking themselves clever, decides to sentence a convicted offender to something ridiculous as their punishment in lieu of incarceration.  Sometimes it involves standing in a public space wearing a humiliating sign.  Perhaps it involves being forced into some bizarre living conditions, like slumlords being forced to occupy their own squalid properties.  In this case, a man was forced to write a 5,000 word essay on the dangers of cannabis.

5,000 words is a pretty lengthy document.  It is 20 standard book pages of writing, which is more than most people write about anything outside of academia.  To write something like this on a subject you simply don’t agree with is more challenging than you might think.  Could you come up with this much material to support an argument you clearly disagree with?

If this was me, and it isn’t, I would probably end up going to jail.  The only thing I could think to do would be to expound upon the futility of authoring such propaganda at the order of the state, and I would likely get charged with contempt of court for my belligerence.  I don’t imagine the court will feel that one of the primary dangers of cannabis is the fact you may get arrested and end up having to write twenty pages of utter nonsense about how dangerous cannabis is.

Would Terrance Bennett have been using cannabis if he was this convinced it was dangerous?

The presiding official, Judge Julian Lambert, is obviously a bit of an ass.  He’s clearly trying to make a publicity case out of this, doing something so ridiculously outside the existing sentencing guidelines that it ventures into the realm of farce.  He already gave Mr Bennett a suspended sentence and probation, but was told by the probation service that Terrance was unfit for any kind of work because of physical disability.

One might conclude that Mr Bennett was using cannabis because of his egregious physical injuries.  That obviously didn’t enter into the head of Judge Lambert.  It is self-evident from his conduct that there is plenty of room in there for new information; the existing space isn’t well occupied.  The probation services are notoriously hard-nosed and even they concluded that Terrence Bennet is incapable of work because of physical disability – how dangerous could this man possibly be?

Judge Lambert is trying to import a new philosophy in corrections into the UK off the back of a harmless medicinal cannabis user.  Notably, over the pond, Sherriff Joe Arpaio engages in this sort of ridiculous behavior.  Prisoners in a local detention center are forced to live outside in tents, do hard labor, and wear pink underwear.  It is part of a campaign of humiliation and degradation towards criminal offenders.

What is the best part of Sherriff Joe and his reign of terror?  His region has the highest recidivism rate in America.

Perhaps Judge Julian Lambert would like to model himself on Sheriff Joe Arpaio?

Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Tent City Prison in Arizona, USA.


Aside from being unfit for decent society, creative sentencing actually increases crime rates.  It isn’t effective.  When you traumatize offenders with humiliating treatment, you do nothing positive for them, and in some cases damage their self-esteem badly enough to keep them from pulling themselves out of the gutter they’ve fallen into.

Judge Lambert is clearly from the “I don’t need your liberal facts” school of thought, because he has chosen to jump on this bandwagon ten years after it has proven ineffective.  His goal is not to reduce recidivism and rehabilitate offenders.  His goal is to marginalize a segment of society, staring down his nose at the peasant class with disdain and handing down dictums fit for a syphilitic monarch.

As for Terrence Bennett, he will probably write his essay and hope that it’s enough to feed the massive ego of Judge Lambert.  If he had money for decent enough lawyers, he could probably appeal on the grounds this sentence is unlawful in and of itself.  However legally inappropriate this happens to be, the appeals process is still lengthy and cost-prohibitive. How can a man who is too disabled to work be expected to wage such an uphill battle?

That is where it is worth discussing a legal defense fund for future incidents like this.  It’s going to happen again.  Once a precedent like this is set, and some wannabe Judge Judy gets some press for their asinine behavior, it will encourage more members of the judiciary to think outside the bounds of reason.  Before you know it pot smokers around the UK will be wearing pink underwear and sleeping in tents.

It’s not to be ignored.  Talk to your friends about this.  Raise the issue of creative sentencing and the slippery slope it takes us all down.  Today it is writing a 5,000 word essay of complete tripe to satisfy the ego of one impotent Judge.  Tomorrow it could be sandwich boards in the public square.  How far is it from there to the stocks, with the peasantry hurling rotten food at offenders to shame them into compliance?

James Collins is a Canadian blogger, author and activist.

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  1. So write the fucking essay, get over it! Write the best damn 5000 word essay on the dangers of cannabis. Reference it to scientific papers, research the subject matter thoroughly and present cohesive thoughts on the subject. It’s got to be better than an involuntary anal dilation, and who knows, you might just educate the judge.

  2. LOL That’s easy 🙂 I would find it easy to write 5000 words on the dangers of Cannabis ….bet I would go to jail though LOL For writing “PROHIBITION” 5000 times.

  3. LOL That’s easy 🙂 I would find it easy to write 5000 words on the dangers of Cannabis ….bet I would go to jail though LOL For writing “PROHIBITION” 5000 times.

  4. As ridiculous as the whole situation is in the first place, i think people should band together and help this guy write and source information for the essay.

    Outlining the ‘dangers’ and then comparing to the medical benefits should hopefully lead to the judge seeing how little dangers there actually are compared to those substances which are legal yet available in abundance. Tying that in with the fruitless nature of criminalization and how it does nothing to solve any of the imaginary problems they think they stand against.

    Use this poor attempt at ‘creative sentencing’ to educate those who come up with ideas like this. Turn it around against them. If done properly i’m sure there can be some good to come from this?

  5. I would probably write about how it’s dangerous because of the fact that it is prohibited which gives criminals control of its supply, leads to a lack of quality control and gives morons like this the power to impose stupid sentences on people who have not harmed anyone else simply for exercising the right to self-ownership of their own bodies. I would also add a section as to the reasons for criminalisation: the racism, the bigotry against the people who are seen to smoke cannabis and the interests of big business such as wood products who can’t compete against hemp for certain items and pharmaceutical companies who don’t want people growing their own medicine.

  6. Why not be creative, the judge that is and get him to present a pro and con argument regards the chosen subject.

    It’s reputed anti-carcinogenic properties, regardless of opinion, should be looked into in the fight against cancer, cannabis oils can’t be ignored because of what people may think about marijuana or those cliched ideas of whom and whom doesn’t smoke it etc.

  7. I think this judge should be praised. He had the option of gaoling a non-violent “offender”, and chose not to. He is bound by the law to serve up some punishment or other, and the fact that he chose the least harmful method (IMO) to do so is to his credit. I also greatly appreciate the fact that his decision will come back to bite him – if the victim of this sentence has any balls – in that, as rightly pointed out, the primary danger of cannabis is prohibition, and most all the secondary dangers are due to the primary danger.
    So yeah, let’s have more judges giving sentences like this, and more victims writing honest works for these judges to read and educate themselves with. Instead of things like a case recently in the Huddersfield, where a man was fined for a cannabis related offence and ordered to pay a victim surcharge – the only victim was the defendant in the case, wrongly robbed of his property by the state.

  8. I great opportunity for some subversive writing though. And who will read it and check the foot notes and bibliography?

  9. the judge should never be a judge we need judges in thid country whom understand about how cannabis and other drugs work befor they even stand to be a judge the guy should write if not write make a docamentry about the dangers of cannabis there are quite a few .hence some need to go down in a book,,ie::1,, the dangers of growing cannabis in feb in the garden is it will die because of the cold 2,, starting of seedling in the greenhouse in feb is fine ready for outside growing BUT the it will need to be heated again because of the cold,3putting to many seeds in a seed tray will cause over crowding and seedling will suffer4.use good quility compost and not bad again seedling are the 1,s whom suffer,5,when removeing seedlings from seed tray dont pull on the stem gentley lift out with a fork u eat with hold the 1st leaf otherwise againg seedling suffers..ect ect ect i would have done this if this was asked of me and the main dangers of smoking cannabis is a outdated law that makes us stand up in frount of these prick whom know nuffin of how cannabis works towards our illness after trying so many of doctors durugs that make us so much worse iam sick and fed up of it all and wish death now would just remove me from such a evil world and country we live in and i guess iam not alone in theses feelings something needs to be done as fast if our country wants to stand up for its people but as long as we have judges who play god with our lives we will still be stuck in the dark ages

  10. ..Over here in America…We have let alone in the state of California by itself 177,000 inmates in prison…You gotta get creative. That judge is just trying to be a celebrity with a mind of ignorance to fuel it.

  11. Think about it…Do you really want authority trained and certified to deal with medical issues? Nope They are just running their people like back in the stone age and unions milking tax payers dollars…

  12. Great article James, thank you.

    This judge is clearly an arsehole and a danger to society. It would be much easier to write 5,000 words as to why Judge Julian Lambert should not be a judge.

  13. This goes way beyond just cannabis. If you can just hand out whatever sentence you want, what is the point of sentencing guidelines at all? If these kinds of decisions get handed down and nobody fights them on appeal, it sets up precedent for other judges in the future, and makes the likelihood of bringing the judiciary back in line slim. If the pattern of behavior spreads too much, more and more judges will want to get their face in the Daily Mail by acting like a clown while presiding on the bench. It takes more equality and dignity out of a system that is already lumbering under corruption and inequality. Courtrooms could turn into a Kafkaesque nightmare, with judges trying outcrazy one another in the sentencing phase.

  14. something to get him started:

    The Dangers of Cannabis

    “the first danger of cannabis is that idiots all over the world don’t
    know the truth, which is that this magical plant is actually one of the
    most effective medicines of this planet, this ignorance is leading to
    ridiculous numbers of sick people who are DYING from diseases such as
    breast cancer or leukemia and sufferers of mental disorders such as
    Alzheimers and Parkinsons, are being treated with man made drugs which
    are all known (and publicized) to have negative side effects, but
    cannabis would take millions if not trillions of dollars from the
    pharmaceutical companies that produce these drugs

    The second
    danger of cannabis is that you might get arrested for setting a plant on
    fire and breathing, cannabis is a weed, it grows naturally, and haven’t
    we been told for years to eat more natural produce? (avoid e-numbers,
    artificial flavorings etc.) this could be inferred as saying that
    natural substances are good for you, another risk is starting a serious
    fire by accidentally falling asleep with a spliff in your mouth,
    resulting in serious burns and/or death.

    The third danger of
    cannabis, is that you run the risk of putting on a few pounds if you
    smoke everyday, due to one of cannabis true side effects also known as
    “the munchies”, the munchies is a state of mind where you want to eat
    excess amount of food, and when you eat that food, it tastes better than
    any other food, this could be dangerous as the higher you get, the more
    likely you are to eat a macdonalds which will increase your risk of
    heart failure, not to mention all the dangerous chemicals they add to
    the food

    The FOURTH (and biggest) danger of cannabis is the
    danger it poses to the paper and textiles industry, as hemp (the
    non-psychoactive plant) can be used to produce 4 times as much paper per
    cubic acre (basically, 1 acre of hemp field produces as much paper as 4
    acres of trees) and cannabis grows to full maturity over 4-5 months
    outdoors, if we used hemp paper millions of dollars would be lost every
    year by these big companies “

  15. I can think of far worse punishments than having to write a 5000 word essay.Anyone with practical as opposed to theoretical experience of the criminal justice system knows that having to write a 5000 word essay is a walk in the park compared to a jail term or even a spell on probation.

  16. Crown court in May for production.Only 5 big plants 8 small ones 24 cuttings for friend who shares.I’d be happy writing an essay at moment solicitor says more than 12 months jail !! 3 months in 1991 has resulted in 22 yrs anxiety and agraphobia.

  17. We could all send the judge 5000 word essays to arrive on May 31st, in the vein of AngryStoner’s post above or with a comparison to the benefits

  18. Guess the judge might hope he has to research and read up on the danger of cannabis in creating this school detention stylee excercise. It might if nothing else give the man a differing view of the cannabis debate and make him ask if this stuff is for him or at least he will get insights into the downside of cannabis use….and there is a downside just like with everything else.

  19. Why should he write tripe? Its a great opportunity to discuss the dangers of cannabis misuse as a relative issue to other activities – I wish I could do that essay, get the lancet report out – although obviously people shouldn’t be being brought before the courts in these circumstances anyway.

  20. the judge needs to Known the facts simple as we all no thee judge is wrong yet he can do this

    what i would say is that everyone who is or being taking to court over cannabis, we need to setup a blog on page with people court dates and area your from so we can protest at the court dates about how unlawful the judge is being by convicting you on the bases of lies and people who go court with you help you tell judge your not a criminal for smoking cannabis or growing it etc we need to set something like this if people are getting arrested for this we need to set up a blog for all the cities in UK so that people can put there info on it what day there in court what there being convicted of where there from what court there in etc and other people out there in same city in the same issue can go to court with you mass amount of people and protesting doing this way will win war on cannabis

    go to court with your fellow humans in the same city that are having the same problem we

    it will put end to it

    soz for my bad English hope you understand me someone good with blogs and web pages needs to do this for all cities in UK protest at all courts at every court in England will have protesters at every court every time someone is being charge with cannabis
    this will end it

    we basically go in the court with the person being charge for cannabis in anyway or form and tell the judge you are not making this human out to be a criminal this is only way to get house of commons to rethink there laws on cannabis

  21. Bennet was convicted of sentenced for dealing,supplying,making a profit from the trade.
    Everybody here knows that while it might be ok to smoke it, selling for profit or to subsidise your personal habit will get you into serious trouble.

  22. Dangers of Cannabis… if used by people growing their own, legally –

    1/ Large multinational corporations would stand to lose billions in profits and governments would lose millions in taxes and lobbying back-handers
    2/ Police crime figures would reduce thus reduction in Police numbers and loss of employment
    3/ reduction of financial gains from cancer charities
    4/ reduction of financial gains from cancer research institutes
    5/ reduction of financial gains from cancer treatments (chemo/radio-“therapy”) and their machines thus smaller profits, smaller taxes for governments and smaller work-force
    6/ Oil companies would lose their strangle-hold on the world’s fuel market
    7/ military/police would lose assignments to enter situations where drugs and oil are of interest
    8/ hospital patients numbers would drop due to fewer military engagements thus fewer hospital staff and financial gains from governments, corporate sponsors and insurance companies
    9/ fewer car collisions would result in loss of profits from insurance companies and police fines and judicial engagements to prison staffing
    10/ loss of profits from bio-fuel industry as cannabis hemp fuel is clean-burning and bio-degradable
    11/ loss of financial profits from home heating industry. (see No. 10)
    12/ loss of employment from suicide “help-lines” and psychologists / psychiatrists / therapists
    13/ reduction of violent crimes and home abuse

    As you can imagine, I could go on about how “dangerous” cannabis is… to those that have a financial interest in keeping it unlawfully illegal.

    5,000 word essay… not so difficult when you’re willing to throw all the info back in their faces.
    Time to take my anti-smug pill. Hope there’s none of that dangerous cannaBIZ in it.

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