Monday, July 9, 2007

Hear Ye, Hear Ye (but can you hear???)-

Over the past couple of years I’ve visited several courtrooms at the McHenry County Government Center. While I’ll admit to some slight hearing loss [perhaps due to too many visits to the pistol range and too much (well, not too much) motorcycle riding], I find it hard to hear what is being said at the bench by the lawyers, plaintiffs and defendants, and by the judges.

Why do they mumble and speak in hushed tones? Isn’t the courtroom a place where justice is to be served (and where interested parties and other visitors should be able to hear the proceedings)?

If you can’t hear what’s being said (because of the mumbling), how does one really know that justice is being served?

On more than one occasion I have asked the bailiff to give a note to the judge to ask all to speak up. One time it worked. The other times? Nothing. No change. I’ve even gone to the office of Court Administration to leave a request for the Presiding Judge. And I’ve written to Court Administration. Former Judge Ward Arnold did respond positively that anyone in court should be able to hear the proceedings. I guess it's time to write to Judge Prather.

An attorney overheard my request in court one day and volunteered that the public does not have the “right” to hear what’s going on in a courtroom. That might be true in Iran, but I don’t believe it’s true in the USA.

Anyone in the courtroom can see the microphones right on the bench. Are they just decorative? The sound system must be turned off or turned down.

The attorneys who wish to hold conversations at the lawyers’ tables, which are unrelated to the matter being heard, should step outside to speak to one another. Why are they permitted to talk but others in the courtroom cannot? All should respect the judge’s court.

Next time you are in court, ask the judge or the bailiff to have all parties speak up. And to quiet the attorneys who believe they can stand near the seating area and carry on conversations. See what response you get. I hope it’s better than mine!

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