"I just signed your death warrant": Did the judge in the Nassar trial go too far during his sentencing?

Imagine that poll question. “Did the judge behave improperly by mocking a convicted child-molesting degenerate?”

Ed wrote about the sentencing earlier but take two minutes to watch Judge Rosemarie Aquilina read his statement, contempt dripping from her voice, before she glares at him, dangles the page, and drops it in disgust. “I just signed your death warrant,” she crowed later in sentencing him to 40-175 years. When your comportment on the bench is inspiring “five sickest burns” posts at E! Online, eh, maybe you should have dialed down the grandstanding a notch.

That wasn’t all:


If not for this damned Constitution, a little prison rape would be in order. Again, poll that. See how it goes. 80/20 or so in agreement, I’d guess.

Still, criticism was surprisingly bipartisan on Twitter. A little from the right…


…and a little from the left:

“A judge should always be aware that the judicial system is for the benefit of the litigant and the public, not the judiciary,” reads Canon 1 of Michigan’s Code of Judicial Conduct. Watching today’s spectacle, it was sometimes hard to tell. My admittedly uncharitable read on it was that Aquilina genuinely loathed Nassar, as any decent human would, and decided to get a little extra crazy with the cheez whiz partly because he’s human dog sh*t but partly too because, hey, there’s always room for one more fantastically well compensated TV judge in syndication. Aquilina’s “colorful,” she’s had a camera pointed at her for days with a national viewing audience, and the entire country was on her side in throwing the book at him. You’d watch “Judge Rosie” at 4 p.m. every day. You know how I know? Because I’d watch “Judge Rosie” at 4 p.m. every day.

As for Nassar having grounds for resentencing due to Aquilina’s grandstanding, legal eagles would know the merits of that better than I would. You’re not entitled to a new sentence just because the judge “took a tone” or mocked you, certainly. I assume Nassar would claim that the sentence of 40-175 years is excessive and would cite Aquilina’s performance, replete with the “death warrant” and prison rape comments, in arguing that it should be reduced. Either way, though, he’s never getting out. He’s 54 now and will serve many decades in prison even if Aquilina’s sentence is reduced. (He’s already been slapped with a 60-year federal sentence for child pornography.) The irritation at her grandstanding is less about the prospect of resentencing, I think, than people craving the moral authority of a dispassionate sentence. Any hint that the judge was biased against him, however understandably, leaves a tiny dent in the idea that Nassar got what justice itself required rather than what made the judge feel good. Eh, we’ll laugh about all this next year when she has her own show.

Here’s a transcript of her full statement if you want to drink it all in.