By Koda Slingluff
SACRAMENTO, CA – Usually, courtrooms are dark places, with sometimes horrific stories of mayhem, cruelty, desperation and utter futility, with defendants begging to be released, others sentenced to jail or prison. And lawyers squabbling.
But, Judge Michael W. Sweet here in Sacramento County Superior Court was in high spirits this past Tuesday afternoon, chatting with prosecution and defense attorneys while admiring the day’s light schedule.
As the Zoom call began, Assistant Public Defender Susannah Martin said “welcome back, we missed you” to Judge Sweet, who had gone on a short vacation, leaving him apparently refreshed and ready to work.
Deputy District Attorney Kitty Tetrault’s Zoom showed a bare-walled office. Sweet noticed this immediately, asking, “Where’s your plants, Kitty?”
Tetrault laughed, “Judge, don’t even get me started. There was a mat problem on the [office] floor, apparently, and they made us take all our plants home. And I keep emailing to see when I can bring my plants back. Not yet.”
“You know what kind of a plant person she is. Oh my gosh.” Sweet chuckled to Martin before returning to Tetrault. “I bet you talk to your plants every day when you go home, tell them about your day.”
“Of course,” Tetrault joked.
As Judge Sweet reviewed the day’s calendar, he noted that the list of defendants for the day was brief. “It’s because Kitty and I have been so efficient,” Martin said lightly.
“Is that the reason?” Sweet asked. Martin teased, “Let’s say it is,” and the three laughed.
The trio worked through the day’s calendar quickly and efficiently. Several problems that would generally take up time had already been solved by Tetrault and Martin outside of court. The pair had already agreed on potential future dates for several hearings, making it easier for Judge Sweet.
After Tetrault thanked Sweet for confirming an upcoming court date, Sweet replied, “It is my distinct pleasure.” Someone off screen (likely the bailiff or court reporter) laughed heartily at Sweet’s enthusiasm.
Sacramento Dept. 61 ended early, with Judge Sweet saying happily, “You two are so blessed to come to. You’re both smiling, it’s very good, it’s very nice actually.”
Koda is a junior at UC Berkeley, majoring in Philosophy and minoring in Rhetoric. He is from Ventura, CA.
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