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Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Judge handing out unique sentences

Scheer orders defendants to stand along roadsides holding signs

By Amy Kronenberger
CELINA - Call it a sign of the times.
Municipal Court Judge James Scheer has turned to nontraditional sentencing to make people think about their actions instead of paying a fine or spending time in jail.
In the last few months, Scheer has issued two sentences that order defendants to stand on the roadside holding large signs.
In May, Scheer sentenced Ashley R. White, 23, 301 S. Elm St., Fort Recovery, to stand on the side of state Route 49 for six hours holding a large sign that reads "I will take better care of my children."
White, who also was sentenced to parenting classes, was charged with child endangerment. Her son left the house and crossed state Route 49, according to court documents. White did not know the child was gone until someone returned him.
"I had a couple of options in this case," Scheer told The Daily Standard. "She didn't have a lot of money, so I didn't want to fine her. Also, she was pregnant and had other kids at home, so I didn't think jail was an option either."
Scheer knew he had to think of an alternative.
"I wanted her to think about how quickly she could lose a child when she's not attentive enough," he said. "And I thought she should be embarrassed for her actions."
White must complete her sentence in three, two-hour shifts and contact Fort Recovery Police so they can monitor her. The deadline to complete the task was postponed because of her pregnancy. She must contact the court within two weeks after having her baby.
In the second case, Trae A. Harter, 26, 400 E. Warren St., Lot 64, Celina, was convicted of criminal mischief after removing a stop sign from the southwest corner of Main and Fayette streets in Celina.
Instead of a fine, Scheer ordered him to stand at that intersection and hold a large sign for eight hours that reads "I removed a stop sign."
"I wanted him to realize how dangerous a prank like this can be," Scheer said.
Scheer said someone once removed a "bridge out" sign, and later that night a vehicle fell into the gap and the driver was killed.
Harter has one month to complete his sentence and may do so in several shifts until he completes the full eight hours.
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