Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Courtroom Demeanor of Judge Gilmore

About a year and a half ago, I went to a hearing that was presided over by 8th District Court Judge Terence Gilmore. Some people I knew were about to have a significant portion of their fate decided, and another friend of theirs showed up too, as the moral support system.

The lawyer had characterized this particular hearing as sheer harassment. "My position is, we shouldn't even be here." Of course, lawyers often say that. His position was also that his client had been denied the right to a trial for the original alleged offense, and this whole messy array of complications arose from that basic injustice.

I was interested in the courtroom demeanor of Judge Gilmore. Maybe he was just having a bad day, but this is what I noted at the time:

He rarely if ever looks at anyone else in the courtroom. Even when the attorneys are directly addressing him, he tends to lean his head on his hand and study the papers on his bench. Kind of like a bored teenager enduring a parent's nagging. It's very difficult to hear anything he says. The defense lawyer asks the judge to move the mic a little closer, which he does, but then muffles the sound by putting his hand between the mic and his mouth, so whatever he's saying is no more clear than before.

This is just another tedious stage in a long and complicated case, whose details I don't understand. It has involved a traumatic series of court appearances, of which this will not be the last. Although the lawyer has been seeing legal errors all along, he is pleased with today's ruling on one aspect of the case, so this particular chapter ended well. There will be another hearing in three months. Score for today: Judge's decision, correct. Judge's courtroom demeanor, autistic and adolescent.

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