I received this comment. I have no way of knowing who wrote it, but I sincerely hope it was Mr. DeMiles, who I have never had the pleasure of meeting to the best of my knowledge. If I have been taken advantage of, I just might leap off a bridge, as lately no matter what I do I seem to screw this blog up.
While I am wallowing in self pity, let me make one other remark: There are plenty of comments about what happened in that courtroom on the blog. Somehow, when an anonymous person comments that “so and so is a jerk” it somehow gets translated to “Did you hear that Rumpole called someone a jerk on his blog?” One of the things that is really getting to me is that while this blog tries to provide an area or outlet if you will for discussion about our courthouse, I get tagged with every obnoxious comment, and maybe I’m thin skinned but it bothers me because I try (but as we have seen, I do not always succeed) to be fair in my comments.
Without further ado:
Jim DeMiles here. Please allow me to introduce myself and explain my background and what really happened in Court. These words are mine, not those of the SAO, and are not approved by the SAO, so please don't attack anyone else for these words except me. At first I was called "stupid" and an "idiot." Soon afterwards, the names were elevated to "racist" and "bigot." Those terms are words of hatred, and they do not define me; I feel compelled to set the record straight, so please allow me to set the record straight. I am not a racist, and I am not a bigot, because I too know how harsh the repercussions of bigotry can be. Although I am "white" as I have been labeled based on my physical appearance, I am actually an Italian-American, the son of a mother who moved here from Italy as an 11 year-old girl. When she first moved to Boston, she lived in a single house with her parents and 9 brothers and sisters. In the early 70's a rash of immigrants moved here from Italy. As a result, many of them came "with out papers." My mother, her brothers and sisters, all 9 of them, packed into a single house, were unfairly picked on by bigots as children. They were called "WOPS," a terrible and derogatory word meaning "with out papers," used to degrade and humiliate the Italians who relocated to America and who weren't as affluent as some of those people who picked on and abused them.
I am not a racist, or a bigot, because I have learned from my relatives first-hand how terrible the actions of bigots and racists can be.
With that said, I turn to the trial, which occurred last week. The courtroom is completely empty, save two ASAs, two PDs, the Court, and courtroom personnel. We are not yet on the record, and I am preparing to do my closing argument. In walks an APD and his beautiful son. Intentionally or not, and I have no reason to believe intentional, they sit right behind the defendant (second row, as required by DOC, because the defendant was in custody). At this point, I object, literally inquiring who is this child and why he is sitting directly behind the defendant. Ask the APDs, they’ll tell you.
Soon thereafter, the court reporter informed us that we were not yet on the record. We immediately went on the record and I stated (as quoted word-for-word from the transcript) "If it's the defendant's child I have no objection." I never made a motion to exclude any child from the courtroom. I never said another word for the remainder of the short-lived hearing, but it was my objection that started it all.
Others have spun the incident differently, or simply reacted without knowing all of the facts, please, check the transcript, I have a copy already.
I have tried around twenty cases in the Circuit Courts, I've had family of the defendant present in court for past cases; however, I had never before been presented with this situation, empty courtroom, young child who sits behind the defendant. If the child was black, white, Hispanic, Asian, or purple, I would have made the same objection and made the same inquiry: who is this child and why is he sitting behind the defendant.
Please check the transcript if you feel that you need to, because it will show that I go on to say that "If it's the defendant's child I have no objection." If it is not the defendant's child, then a jury may be mislead into thinking that it is. The deception is not deception caused by the color of the child’s skin, i.e. that the defendant and the child were both African-American, but by the mere presence of a child seated near the defendant.
Some have speculated that the objection was in response to the APD’s conduct in past cases, this is not true either. The APD in trial is an excellent attorney and a good man. However, innocent and unintentional conduct can also be misleading and deceiving to the jury, because it too conveys a message to them that isn’t true. This is why I stated "If it's the defendant's child I have no objection." If it was the defendant’s child there was nothing for the jury to be mislead about.
In the robbery trial last week, neither the APD in trial nor the APD who brought his son into the courtroom and sat near the defendant did anything improper. I didn’t think that the APD brought his son to mislead the jury, but, that doesn’t mean that the jury cannot be innocently but mistakenly be mislead by them being seated there, so close to the defendant.
Many attorneys have approached me since the posts began, one friend, a defense attorney, told me about a homicide trial where a number of women sat weeping in the front row of the gallery throughout the trial. The attorney informed me that she made a motion to move the women to another spot in the courtroom because she was afraid that the women may prejudice her client.
I merely inquired to see whether things were a fair representation of what was really going on, an empty courtroom filled with a few spectators, one of which was a young child. I made the objection and made the inquiry, and since then, the Herald has got the story wrong, and the blog has seemingly turned into an avalanche of hatred.
I did apologize to the APD who brought his child into the courtroom, not because I believe I intentionally did anything wrong, but because my objection and inquiry began the process that ended with his son being removed. For that and that alone, although I thought my objection proper, I was truly sorry. I hope that I have shed some light on this situation. So please, I am not a racist, and I am not a bigot. It puts knots in my stomach that I even have to type those words. I’m a human being, who loves his job, takes it very seriously, and tries to be fair and honest in his position every day.
Bless you Mr. DeMiles, you have our confidence in your performance, and our sympathy for the way it has been misconstrued. (A little trivia- what late great Justice Building Judge used to respond to objections with "bless your soul"?)