Is there legal precedent for a court ordering a defendant to just LISTEN to the plaintiff?

This question is inspired by the story of Michael Cassidy, a Christian who got upset over a (perfectly legal) statue of Baphomet in the Iowa State Capitol and destroyed it. He became a cause celebre among the Christian Right, and raised six figures for his defense in a GoFundMe. According to this video, as part of his plea deal, he’s agreed to “participate in a victim-offender dialogue” with the plaintiff, should they request.

I can get why the plaintiffs would want this. I’m not saying they’re going to change his mind, but on the extremely off chance that the defendants would just hear the plaintiffs out, without devolving into a shouting match, maybe the seed will be planted in his mind that, you know, if a state is going to allow religious displays in its capitol, it has to allow /all/ religious displays. And also, the Satanic Temple is neither evil nor Satanic (as some Christians seem to view Satanism, that is).

I have two questions:

  1. Is there legal precedent for a court compelling a defendant to simply listen to the plaintiff?
  2. How does this work out in a practical sense? Does the judge tell both parties to meet at This Place at This Time, in the presence of a bailiff, who will cuff the defendant if he starts arguing back?

Some courts allow victims of crimes to make statements after the defendant is convicted but before sentencing. The defendant has to listen and is not allowed to respond. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina famously made Larry Nasser listen to statements from dozens of his victims, which took almost a week to complete. Along the way Nassar said it was too hard to sit through them all and asked if they could be cut short; the judge told him tough cookies and made him continue.

It’s a plea deal. He can go along with the terms or take an ordinary sentence for the crime if he’s not willing to listen to the plaintiff. He can’t be forced to accept a sentence not prescribed in the law.

If it’s a “victim-offender dialogue” the word implies two-way communication. Hence, the offender must have the opportunity to get his two cents in. If the plaintiff expects to have the defendant shut up and listen, that won’t happen.

Nitpick. This is a criminal case. You mean “victim” not “plaintiff.”

But, yes, it’s not uncommon.

Not sure here, but where I’ve seen it the victim makes a statement in court before sentencing.

Sounds like the judge is integrating concepts from the “restorative justice” movement.

Example in Chicago community courts:

I think the vifger issue is whether the defendant/plaintiff can be forced to attend. I understand this is a plea deal, and hopefully the victim was consulted first, but surely they cantgiod a victim in contempt if they don’t want to participate?

No idea what a vifger issue is, but I assume the victim and their attorney were consulted before this plea deal was offered.

I think “vifger” is just a typo for “bigger”, and “cantgiod” is “can’t hold”.

The specific fact pattern you describe could present interesting applications of the First Amendment’s establishment clause that could result in non-intuitive outcomes.

I could see a court reasoning: “if I compel defendant to listen to plaintiff Church of Satan, I would be compelling defendant to let CoS proselytize to him, which would violate defendant’s First Amendment rights.” Not that I agree with this chain of reasoning, but I could see a court in this day and age using it in order to deny CoS the relief that it wants.

There’s a local animal shelter we support financially as well as occasionally going in to help with projects.

A few years ago there was a guy who was found guilty on an animal abuse charge. As a part of his sentence he was ordered to do volunteer work for the shelter.

The head of the board of directors is rather outspoken and told the court no fucking way did they want the scumbag on their property. Several other shelters responded similarly, so the judge instead added some time to his probation.

Oh, and in this specific case, I suspect that the court-ordered dialog was the victim’s suggestion, and so there’s no issue with the victim being compelled to attend. If the victim didn’t want that, then I don’t expect the court would have done it.

You’d thing the judge would have realizes that would be a problem. :person_facepalming: Even something that doesn’t involve direct contact with the animals like cleaning up the parking lot would still give the perp too much opportunity to hang around looking for an opportunity to break in and take out his resentment on the poor critters.