Hero Judge Bends the Rules So a Defendant Could Meet His Newborn in Court

gavelWith stories of authority figures abusing their power becoming all too commonplace, the compassion recently displayed by one Kentucky judge is inspiring the world-weary among us to take heart. Because instead of treating a defendant in her courtroom like a common criminal, Judge Amber Wolf treated him like a human being, making sure he had the opportunity to hold his newborn baby -- whose birth he was forced to miss while being held on burglary charges. 


James Roeder and his wife Ashley are both being accused of breaking into a warehouse in February to steal flat-screen TVs. Because they are co-defendants in the same case, Judge Wolf had issued a no-contact order forbidding the couple to speak to each other in advance of the trial. During that time, Ashley gave birth to the couple's son, but James was still in custody and couldn't be there to welcome his child. In fact, on Friday morning (when both James and Ashley had court dates) the father still hadn't met his baby -- something Judge Wolf realized when she saw Ashley trying to hold her baby up so her husband could see him. 

As the judge told WDRB:

I saw her try to hold the baby up when he came out for his case to be called with his attorney. And I thought that he hadn't seen that. And it occurred to me after we finished this case that he had not met his baby -- who was 30 days old -- and that he was not going to get an opportunity to meet his baby anytime in the near future.

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So Judge Wolf did something very out of the ordinary for someone in her position and made a temporary exception to the no-contact order, asking Ashley if she would like her husband to hold the baby. As one might expect, the mom said yes -- and the emotional meeting brought pretty much the entire courtroom to tears:

No wonder they had to hand out tissues! How incredibly moving, how truly inspiring, to see someone with the power to make a difference in someone's life actually making a difference in someone's life -- for the better! The criminal justice system is supposed to be about justice, but too often it seems as if it's about treating defendants like second-class citizens (assuming they're even treated like people at all).

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We hear too often about authority figures abandoning compassion and human decency and abusing the very delicate privilege they've been given. We hear too often about the accused being denied their most basic rights; in fact, just last month Judge Wolf was in the news for her very justified outrage over a female defendant showing up in her courtroom with no pants and having allegedly been denied feminine hygiene products while in custody for a first-time shoplifting offense. ("This is outrageous. Is this for real?" Judge Wolf reportedly said.)

It's about time someone like Judge Wolf came along to speak on behalf of those whose voices are being taken away from them. What this country desperately needs is more people like her: people whose moral center is rooted in genuine morality and a desire to do good, not a desire to be the most self-righteous hypocrite in the room. 


Image via Brian Turner/Flickr

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