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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

If they asked me, I could write a book...

Check out the NYT article on Judge Urbina's unusual alternative sanction: the offender must write a book about his experience:

Call him the homework judge, not the hanging judge. On Monday, Judge Ricardo M. Urbina of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, sentenced a former senior pharmaceutical executive to write a book. Earlier this year the executive, Dr. Andrew G. Bodnar, a former senior vice president at Bristol-Myers Squibb, had pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the federal government about the company’s efforts to resolve a patent dispute over the blood thinner Plavix. The judge sentenced Dr. Bodnar to two years of probation during which he is to write a book about his experience connected to the case. Dr. Bodnar must also pay a $5,000 fine. Elkan Abramowitz, Dr. Bodnar’s lawyer, said he had never before heard of a case in which a judge sentenced a defendant to write a book. But this is not the first time Judge Urbina has demanded written penance. In 1998, he sentenced a prominent Washington lobbyist to write and distribute a monograph to 2,000 lobbyists at the defendant’s own expense.

I'll have some more reactions to this in the next couple days.  Thanks to my pal Andrew Epstein via Ashby Jones for the tip. 

Posted by Administrators on June 9, 2009 at 12:05 PM | Permalink


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Funny you should mention this. I had a principal in junior high school (God rest his soul) who was a fan of alternative punishment methods. For example, writing an essay about why whatever you did was wrong was one of his favorites. Also, if two kids were to get into a fight at school, rather than suspend them, he would bind one's hand to the other's hand for the rest of the day. In fact, just last week I had a conversation with my brother regarding an incident from 15 years ago about another of our friends whose hand was tied to another kid's hand for an entire school day. Turns out, within about an hour or so, the fight was a distant memory and the two were friends again.

I'll be interested to see your take on the book-writing punishment.

Posted by: Paul Washington | Jun 9, 2009 5:46:35 PM

Very interesting and it gives new meaning to the concept of writer's block (as in cell block -- smiles). Who determines whether the manuscript is suitable for publication? Is he eligible to shop it around to publishers and receive royalties once it has been published, or would any royalties have to be donated to charity?

Posted by: Kelly Anders | Jun 9, 2009 4:24:55 PM

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