Friday, March 7, 2014

A courtroom is a lesson in highs and lows

     A courtroom is always full of life.
     Whether it's lawyers arguing their points of view; defendants pleading for mercy; victims weeping for justice; judges handing out stern words of advice; or spectators applauding the latest group of graduates from drug and veterans treatment courts - it's all part of the cycle of courtroom life. Truth is, there are many highs and lows and in this career I get to witness them all.
     I could find no better example of contrasts than what occurred in the courtroom of Montgomery County Judge Garrett D. Page on Friday, March 7. It certainly was a day filled with highs and lows.
     In the morning, Judge Page sentenced a Pottstown man to jail for stalking and threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend after their relationship turned sour. The judge sternly vowed to 'crush' the defendant if he violated the sentence in any way and lectured the man about treating women with respect. Judge Page said domestic violence will not be tolerated in Montgomery County as the defendant bowed his head in shame.The victim of the domestic abuse was in court as her ex-paramour was hauled off to jail. The defendant's mother was there as well to witness her son's fall. Sadness permeated the walls of the courtroom. There were no smiles, no happiness, as those involved in the saga left the courtroom.
     However, within hours of dealing with a relationship that had gone terribly wrong, the judge was beaming as he officiated at the marriage of a young, Norristown couple, who then posed for photographs with the judge. There were kisses and embraces overflowing in the courtroom. As the happy couple and their loved ones left the courtroom to begin their journey, I caught the judge and his staff smiling at what they just witnessed.
     "It's the ebb and flow of being a judge," Page said to me afterward. "You get high points and low points. This is certainly a high point. This is one where everybody goes out of the courtroom happy."

                                           Montgomery County  Judge Garrett D. Page  
                                                                                           Photo/Carl Hessler Jr.

     It certainly was a day of contrasts. But the melancholy of the morning had given way to delight and hope in the afternoon.

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