Friday, June 10, 2011

Remarkable Sentencing Colloquy

Dujuan Walker
Reporter Eileen Kelly at the Cincinnati Enquirer has this remarkable account of a sentencing of a 22 year old killer and the failed colloquy with the Court that may mean he spends the balance of his life behind bars:

Calling him a menace to society, Judge Norbert Nadel informed an inmate already serving a 16-year sentence that he would never know of a life outside prison again.Dujuan Walker, 22, was sentenced to life behind bars for the July shooting death of John Anderson, 29. Nadel added another 71 years on gun and robbery convictions. All of that is in addition to the 16 years he was already serving.

The sentences imposed Thursday stem from a July crime spree[.]  Those crimes were committed when another judge allowed Walker to be free on bond to sort out his affairs before having to report to prison for a 2009 Northside robbery he was involved in. At that time, Walker was only set to do six years in prison. That was upped to 16 years.

Judge Nadel on the bench talking to attorneys
"It was a reign of terror," Kevin Hardman, a Hamilton County assistant prosecutor, said of the July crimes.
Walker stood with his hands cuffed behind his back as Nadel tried on several occasions to give him a chance to explain himself.   "It could be your last time," [Judge] Nadel told Walker.

"It doesn't matter," Walker said.

Nadel then gave the victim's family members a chance to speak and within moments of Anderson's mother standing up and uttering that Walker was a menace to society, expletives filled the courtroom.
"What relationship are you to the defendant, Big Mouth?" Nadel asked Walker's brother, Brian Walker.

Nadel then found Brian Walker in contempt of court for shouting the expletives and sent him to jail for 30 days.

"Anyone else want that?" Nadel asked looking out into the courtroom.

After hearing from more family members, Nadel then focused his attention on Dujuan Walker and asked him one last time if he had anything to say before he was sentenced.

"I'm innocent," Walker said.

Nadel again shot back: "That's la la land."
I've seen similar scenes like this in the courtrooms of OurTown, maybe not as extreme.  I'm very ambivalent about the point of all this.  It feels like a lot of grandstanding on the pretext of the expression of community outrage, but it feels over the top.  A loss of judicial temperament, a debasing of courtroom decorum, perhaps? 

I'm glad this kid is behind bars.  Dujuan Walker probably is a menace to society, at this age, in this time, and maybe forever--I'm just not ready to believe that at age 22 he is incapable of being redeemed.


  1. He may very well be beyond redemption. Once he goes to the big house, there's a good chance that he will join a gang there and commit further crimes while behind bars. Unfortunately our prisons - and especially state prisons - are less about rehabilitation and more about punishment and the warehousing of people who don't belong on the street.

  2. Kevin F.--

    Thanks for your comment. Of course, I think you are right on. But what about the Judge? Grandstanding? Any real purpose to it?

  3. You are right about the temperament issue and the loss of decorum . . . but I'm sure the judge was frustrated and then became angry. That's not an excuse, however, just a possible explanation for the judge "losing it".

  4. Just wanted to say that I have seen this specific judge in action on a couple of occassions and everytime he seems to have the same temperament. Even going so far as to mocking defendants in front of their families. If his work frustrates him so that professionalism is at a loss then maybe it's time to get out. Sometimes doing something a long time doesn't make you wiser, it just makes you burnt out and make poor choices.

  5. I have only the highest respect for Judge Nadel. He's one of the few who has the courage to sentence slime like this long enough to make sure they're in Depends before they walk free again. Hopefully, not ever. Good job, judge!!