Order in the courtroom, there was new face on the Montgomery County bench this week!
At least for a few cherished, pretend moments.
Eleven-year-old Sean Herron, a sixth grade student at Mater Dei Catholic School in Lansdale, flashed a wide smile as he donned the black robe of Judge Gail A. Weilheimer this week and situated his small frame in the judge’s large, leather chair behind the bench.
“How’s it feel up there?” Weilheimer asked the youngster who dreams of becoming a judge one day.
“Cool,” he replied happily as he grasped the judge’s wooden gavel.
Sean and his father, Joseph, were the guests of Weilheimer on one recent morning as Sean sought to learn everything he could about the legal profession.
“I visited the courtrooms upstairs and I saw how the judges work and all their robes and how you get prepared for the case,” Sean said eagerly. “I learned a lot and it was really fun to see what they do.”
|Sean Herron takes the bench/ Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.|
I asked Sean what it was like to wear a judicial robe and he didn’t hold back his delight.
“I felt like a real judge,” he said. “The gavel was really fun.”
Sean gained the chance to tour the courthouse and meet a judge by winning an essay contest in his sixth grade class at Mater Dei. The Nocchi Law Firm in the Lansdale area sponsors the contest, during which the winner receives tuition reimbursement and a trip to the courthouse to meet a judge. Sean’s day also included lunch at the Montgomery Bar Association in Norristown.
“Since I wrote that essay I really got an interest in being a judge. Now I know how everything works,” said Sean, who turns 12 next week.
This is the second year that the Nocchi Law Firm has sponsored the contest.
Lawyer Marguerite Nocchi, who has practiced family law for 26 years, said the contest winners “really have a great time” during the courthouse visit.
“My children went to that school when it was called Saint Stanislaus and I like to give back to the community and this is just a little way that I do,” said Nocchi, explaining she enjoys sponsoring the contest winner.
|Lawyer Marguerite Nocchi with Sean Herron/Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.|
Nocchi enjoyed seeing Sean’s eyes light up when he entered the courtroom.
“It was spectacular. He really has a gift. He was very poised speaking with the judge. He was prepared with questions for her and he answered her questions. He’s a natural,” Nocchi gushed.
“I’m going to vote for him, I can’t wait,” Nocchi added, referring to Sean’s desire to run for judge in the future.
Sean’s father couldn’t be prouder.
“Sean’s career choice that he wants to pursue is being a judge. That’s what brought us here. He’s very excited. You can tell from the smile on his face, he’s very excited to be here today,” said Joseph Herron.
Weilheimer enjoys giving young people the opportunity to explore the legal profession from her courtroom. She recalled that when she was 18 and considering a career in law, then Bucks County District Attorney Alan M. Rubenstein allowed her to shadow some lawyers. Rubenstein went on to be a judge in Bucks.
|Montgomery County Judge Gail A. Weilheimer/Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.|
“From that, it started me on my path of being interested in law, going to law school and eventually getting to this place,” Weilheimer recalled. “So if I can help a younger person who thinks they’re interested in law figure out if this is something they want to pursue, I had that opportunity given to me and I’d like to do that for someone else.”
Kudos to Nocchi and Weilheimer for taking the time to mentor students.
Good luck, Sean, on your future endeavors. Maybe I’ll be reporting from your courtroom one day.