Judge Orders Criminal to Write ‘Boys Do Not Hit Girls’ 5000 Times

A Montana man has been ordered to write "Boys do not hit girls" 5000 times after a brutal assault against his girlfriend.

A Montana man has been ordered to write “Boys do not hit girls” 5000 times after a brutal assault against his girlfriend.

LA Times (“Judge sentences man to write ‘boys do not hit girls’ 5,000 times“):

The Montana judge who sparked ire by sentencing a former teacher to 30 days in jail for the rape of a  14-year-old girl has ordered a man convicted of punching his girlfriend to write “Boys do not hit girls,” 5,000 times.

District Judge G. Todd Baugh, whose actions in the rape case sparked a national furor and a petition drive to have state officials take disciplinary action, sentenced Pace Anthony Ferguson on Monday to the writing exercise, in addition to six months in jail, for fracturing the woman’s face in three places during an August 2012 argument.

Ferguson, 27, also was ordered to pay $3,800 in medical bills that came as a result of the woman’s injuries.

Baugh told Ferguson to number the list, 1 through 5,000, sign it and mail it to him by May 23, according to the Billings Gazette. The six months in county jail is the maximum allowed sentence for the misdemeanor assault.


While I applaud the sentiment, this is not only an abuse of power but the wrong message. First, the victim was a grown woman, not a girl. Second, it’s illegal to punch people in the face regardless of gender.

I’d strip judges of the power to be creative in their sentencing. The law specifies maximum sentences, usually some combination of jail time and fines; judges shouldn’t be allowed to pile on silly nonsense.

As to the perpetrator, justice was served:

Ferguson made two appearances in court on Monday.

After being sentenced by Baugh, Ferguson appeared before District Judge Gregory R. Todd for a disposition hearing. The judge ruled that Ferguson had violated the terms of his release from prison after a 2003 robbery conviction and ordered the man to spend eight years in state prison.

Sounds like a real piece of work.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Tyrell says:

    I do agree that there should be some guidelines that judges should have to follow so that criminals don’t get off with a tap on the hand and disasters such as the thirty day sentence that this judge gave that teacher a while back. I don’t have a problem with the writing punishment. It didn’t hurt the guy and gave him something to do besides watch cable tv all day.

  2. Franklin says:

    I don’t really have much of a problem with this particular example of creative sentencing. The maximum sentence seems pretty lenient for fracturing somebody’s face in three places.

    Also, while I don’t consider the judge a deep thinker, it is kind of amusing that he used the words “boys” and “girls” (instead of men/women) and gave an elementary school type punishment. After all, people are *supposed* to learn not to use violence to solve problems when they are young. Apparently this guy skipped that lesson, so the judge is metaphorically sending him back to grammar school.

  3. The L.A. Times links to the Billings Gazette which gives a bit more depth to the story.

    The defendant, Ferguson, was up on both felony and misdemeanor assault charges in Judge Baugh’s courtroom.

    A 12-member Yellowstone County jury cleared him of the felony assault charges and convicted him of the misdemeanor assault. Under sentencing guidelines, the maximum sentence Judge Baugh could impose for a misdemeanor assault charge was 6 months. Had he been convicted by the jury of a felony assault, he could have received a sentence of up to 100 years in prison.

    That’s how the defendant received a 6-month sentence for hitting his girlfriend in the face so hard that her skull was fractured in three places, and she has to wear a permanent titanium face shield in order to heal the bones in her face, and she still suffers from pain and nausea in her daily movements.

    It was a scheduling coincidence that Ferguson was, at the same time, up for a sentencing review in an earlier assault and armed robbery conviction. In the sentencing review, the judge gave him 8 years for the assault and armed robbery.

    So yes, he’s going away for 8 years, but that’s only due to this guy being “a real piece of work.”

    I place the greatest blame the Montanan jury who clearly felt that the violence that Ferguson enacted upon his girlfriend was only worthy of a misdemeanor and not a felony.

    I also blame the state of our country’s juvenile justice system. Ferguson was first convicted at the age of 13 (along with another minor) of releasing the brakes from a parked train which then went and killed a man. He was immediately placed in the juvenile system and has racked up a list of eight to ten additional civil and criminal convictions in the 14 years since that first incident.

    There may have been hope for Ferguson at one point, but now that he’s a hardened criminal with a long sheet and will be in the Montana State Prison system for an eight-year stint, there’s very little likelihood of any rehabilitation and a very high probability that he graduates to even more serious crimes upon his release.

  4. Ben says:

    Isn’t there a first amendment issue here? Numerous SC cases have found that the government cannot compel speech. Is there some way I’m not seeing here to distinguish this from the compelled speech cases?

  5. James Pearce says:

    judges shouldn’t be allowed to pile on silly nonsense.

    Yeah, there should be something in the Constitution about cruel and unusual punishment.

  6. Nikki says:

    Bottom line–that man needs to be removed from the bench.

  7. Tyrell says:

    @Ben: Is making this creep write sentences a violation of his freedom of speech? If so, millions of school teachers might be liable. When I was in school we had to write the sentences on a chalkboard and paper. We hoped that our parents would never find out.
    Now a days the parents would run to the schoolhouse and jump all over the teacher. Then they would threaten a lawsuit.
    If some of these soft on crime judges were held liable for the actions of these creeps that they let go, they would start keeping them locked up.