Missing the judge
September 25, 2008
I feel compelled to write a little note about Judge J.E. DeVilbiss because he too touched my life, as he did so many others.
At first he intimidated me. As a reporter right out of college, I’d sit in his courtroom listening to case after case, watching him with his granny glasses resting as far down on his nose as they could get, boney shoulders protruding through his black robe, staring down at his notes like a vulture. Naively I’d chase him out of the courtroom hoping to get a “sound bite” about a sentence he’d handed down. It never happened.
What was I thinking? When was the last time you heard a sound bite from a District Judge?!
Later, I got a little more comfortable sitting in his courtroom. So comfortable in fact that I’d sit in the front row, a proud member of the local press corps, scribbling notes and feeling smug. Until one day, during long drawn-out testimony in some criminal case, I noticed the judge look my way and then whisper something to his clerk. I thought, “Wow, maybe he’s sending her over to ask my opinion on something!” Next thing I knew his clerk was tapping me on the shoulder and whispering: “The judge would appreciate it if you would spit out your gum.”
Many, many years later when I got to know him as a “regular person” at Christmas parties and other celebrations at the late Judge Peter Craven’s house. You see, our son Josh had befriended Judge Craven’s grandson Loren so we were instantly included in the “inner circle” of judges after hours. J.E. seemed most comfortable sitting in full Lotus position in the Craven’s window seat.
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I’m going to miss seeing Judge DeVilbiss around and now that both he and Peter Craven have left us, I can’t see any reason why I’d be included in any more judge parties.
Cheers, J.E. Say hi to Peter up there for us.