Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Order in the court

Goochland often feels like a small town even though it is spread over 184 square miles.

An example of this occurred on February 14 in Goochland Circuit court when Judge Timothy K. Sanner took time from the docket to recognize Bailiff Horace Herndon who will retire in the next few weeks in a gracious and heartfelt manner.

“Deputy Herndon is one of the finest people I’ve had the privilege to work with and get to know,” said Sanner. “His overriding concern as a bailiff has been the safety and wellbeing of court attendees, which earned him the respect of all, including the commonwealth’s attorney; attorneys; witnesses and even prisoners.”

The judge seemed a bit emotional as he spoke about Herndon, who has served Goochland for the last 12 years and been in law enforcement for 44 years. At his suggestion, all present rose to applaud Herndon.

Sanner explained that bailiffs arrive early to secure the courthouse and stay after court is over, which can often result in long days.
Herndon said that he has thoroughly enjoyed working with Sanner and has great respect and admiration for the judge and everyone who works with the courts. He also holds Sheriff James L. Agnew and all of his fellow deputies in high regard.

Herndon has always treated everyone in the courtroom, whether they appear in business attire or manacles, with respect, which was returned in kind.
Deputies who work court security have a hard job. They are responsible for fetching prisoners from correctional facilities around the state so they can appear in Goochland courts and returning them the same day.

While court is in session, bailiffs must stand for hours wearing a heavy utility belt equipped with weapon, handcuffs and other tools of the trade. They must remain alert to guarantee the safety of the courtroom, which must be demanding during lengthy and sometimes dull trials. Bailliffs must also be discreet.

At the close of the morning’s session, one of the attorneys appearing before Sanner told the judge that it is nice to know that “someone still does that.” Welcome to Goochland where common courtesy is still in vogue.
Sanner has served Goochland well in his years on the bench.

The breadth of issues that come before Sanner is remarkable. He adjudicates both civil and criminal matters that range from land use to murder.

Herndon observed that Sanner has an amazing grasp of facts and is able to retain details about trials for years.

Sanner seems to be just and fair. Not everyone is pleased with all of his judgments, which are pronounced with thoughtful eloquence. Recognizing a fine man like Horace Herndon for doing a tough job well and with grace speaks volumes about both men.

Sanner’s caseload and that of the other judges on the 16th Circuit has been dramatically increased due to last month’s resignation of John G. Berry who presided over last fall’s recount matter. The timing of Berry’s resignation makes it somewhat unlikely that the General Assembly will appoint a replacement this year. There is also some speculation that Berry will not be replaced.

Sanner and the other 16th circuit judges must fill the judicial void left in Fluvanna and Culpeper. That means that civil trials will not be heard before 2013 and lots of calendar juggling will be required to ensure speedy criminal trials.


Anonymous said...

Sandy, thanks for writing about Horace. He is true Virginia gentleman who will be missed by all of us.

Jim Agnew

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate this judge, as I go throughout central Virginia, and I feel that he really gives each side their fair opportunity to be heard. This, in fact, is the hall-mark of a "true judge," in my mind, as many give short shrift to domestic relations cases, for example. He, does not. Many more could learn from his example. It has been a pleasure appearing before him.