I visited the District Court arraignment section (D11) in Central Islip. This was my first time in a courtroom, so I did not know what to expect. When I first sat down the judge was not present, and I was not paying special attention until I noticed the whole court room standing in his presence and so I hurriedly buckled my self off the bench so as not to be kicked out. I knew that judges receive a higher level of respect but the seriousness of it was not apparent to me until then.
Furthermore, whenever I watch television shows with a court scene they always address the judge as “Your Honor”, and I thought that they kept repeating that before or after everything said to the judge, just to establish the idea to the audience that judges are superior to the common folk and thus they deserve a title for entertainment purposes to strengthen the film. However I did not realize that in reality, the Hollywood depiction of judges is ideally what is represented in the court.
They portray a godlike image, wherein in their presence, one is reluctant to go against what they demand, as it seems as if they hold the freedom of each defendant in their hand. I also observed the judge’s attitude towards the defendants. I noticed that whenever he was speaking to the defendants he never looked at them, not when informing them of their rights or about the bail; it was as if the judge was talking about a defendant but not to the defendant.
This attitude also factored into me considering them as godlike because it seemed as if they had some inhumane prestige so they do not feel the need to look directly at the person when speaking to them, even though they know they are addressing some very serious issues with the defendants. At the same time, this could be just that judge that acts in that manner or maybe they choose to not look at the defendants because they do not want the defendants to feel as if they are “looking down on them”, but my very first reaction was that judges act highly superior and possess a godlike attitude in the courtroom.
I also observed that there were a ridiculous number of police officers in the courtroom. At point I counted and there were ten policemen men total for a bench of approximately four men and one woman that was present in the courtroom at one time. This seemed absurd to me because all the defendants were in handcuffs and every police was equipped with a gun. If a defendant tried to run, he could have a bullet in every limb within a foot of his starting position. There were approximately two police officers for every defendant.
I thought that they could have gotten the job done with at most half the amount of policemen. I thought the cops were there to protect, not the people in the audience and the lawyers, but more the judge. This is because, at one instant a defendant was up on “trial” and while the judge was talking to him he was fidgeting a little and shifting his body to the side. I did not see a problem with this, his movements were not drastic, but the policeman that was standing directly behind him started to push him back into his small cubicle of space and signaled for him to stand still.
The guy was still in handcuffs, and the judge is definitely no where close to the criminal, so nothing can happen if the guy fidgets. A police is stationed directly behind every defendant who is up on trial, which at first I thought the reason was just to un-cuff the defendant for writing purposes, but then I realized their main goal is to instill fear in the defendants so that they do not try anything.
It seemed as if they considered defendants “criminals until proven innocent”. There were approximately five male defendants for every female defendant and I observed three female defendants. Two of the female defendants were of Asian descent and was charged with prostitution. Their bail was set at 250 dollars each. I was shocked when I heard what they were being charged for with because of the particular stereotypes Asians receive, like.