Utah Judge's Hair-Cut Punishment Upsets Mom


When 13-year-old Kaytlen Lopan was sent to juvenile court for allegedly cutting a 3-year-old girl's hair without her consent, Kaytlen's mother, Valerie Bruno of Price, Utah, agreed that her daughter should be punished for her actions.

Juvenile Judge Scott Johansen of the 7th District sentenced Kaytlen to 30 days in detention and 276 hours of community service. But during a hearing last month, he offered a deal: He would reduce the community service by 150 hours if Bruno cut Kaytlen's ponytail in the courtroom. He even supplied the scissors.

Bruno accepted and cut her daughter's hair. But now she regrets it, and says she has filed a formal complaint with the Utah Judicial Conduct Commission.

"I guess I should have went into the courtroom knowing my rights, because I felt very intimidated," she told the Deseret News in an article that appeared Friday. "An eye for an eye, that's not how you teach kids right from wrong."

Colin Winchester, executive director of the Utah Judicial Conduct Commission, said the state Constitution bars him from commenting on whether a complaint has been filed against a judge. A complaint only becomes public if disciplinary action is taken against a judge, he said.

Bruno's daughter and an 11-year-old friend were referred to court for cutting the girl's hair with scissors in March and for harassing another girl in Colorado by telephone. The phone calls Kaytlen made to the girl in Colorado included threats of rape and mutilation, according to the Deseret News.

Kaytlen made admissions in the court relating to both cases, the newspaper also said.

Mindy Moss, mother of the 3-year-old whose hair was cut, said she approved of the sentence and even spoke up during the May 28 hearing when she thought Bruno had not cut off enough of Katelyn's hair. Johansen then directed Bruno to cut the ponytail all the way "to the rubber band."

Moss told The Salt Lake Tribune that she originally called police about the haircut because she worried the girls' behavior could become more serious. "I didn't want them to think they got away with it. … It was malicious," Moss said.

Under state law, judges are given discretion in coming up with sanctions for youth that will change their behavior in a positive way.

Johansen ordered Kaytlen's 11-year-old friend to have her hair cut as short as his. She was allowed to go to a salon to have it done, then return to the courtroom to ensure that the new hairstyle met with his approval.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.