I think the most interesting thing I did this week might have been attending a speech by Judge Walker a few blocks from the courthouse at PSU. He had been invited for the second time to speak to a forensic psychology class about the types of things he looks for and will appreciate as valuable evidence in the courtroom from forensic psychologists. Forensic psychologists are basically specialists in psychology that assist in the courtroom and provide knowledge during cases.
Once again, Judge Walker had plenty of idle time in his courtroom. When he comes to work he does not necessarily know what he has on his docket unless he has a trial scheduled or something big like that, and this week, similar to last week, he just didn’t have much going on.
Week three was full of more misdemeanor trials, which are minor crimes that are punishable by a fine and/or up to a year in the county jail. Misdemeanors are distinguished from felonies in that a person charged with a felony may be sent to prison. A lot of the misdemeanor trials I saw were for DUIs and for possession of controlled substances. One thing I learned is that possession of meth, cocaine, and heroine are all felonies. –Meth definitely seemed to be the most popular drug for the people that came in with drug charges.
So we started the week off with a five day trial but on the third day Judge Walker deemed the defendent unfit to proceed because he did not seem to fully comprehend his situation. The defendent had a substantial mental illness history so the judge sent him to the hospital to be checked out and potentially diagnosed. As a result, the trial was suspended and the judge had plenty of free time on his hands. Wednesday and Thursday I spent a lot of time with Judge Walker's clerk, Linda, and his JA, Nayeli.