You can walk into his courtroom in Witchita, Kansas and see a tiny man hunched over, sitting in a large chair on top of a raised platform. Oxygen tubes can be seen sticking out of his nose and he sometimes pauses so long you think he has finished his speech. But you would be wrong.
Judge Wesley Brown of the United States District Court is well on his way to breaking the record for the oldest sitting judge in the United States Federal Courts. He was appointed to the bench in 1962 by President John Kennedy after serving a short stint as a bankruptcy judge.
He has mellowed over the years. When he was younger, attorneys feared him because of his temper and his determination to dress down lawyers who wore casual clothes or were late for court. He still maintains a penchant for gallows humour.
Federal Court judges in the United States can remain on the bench “during good behavior”. While some judges retire at age 65 and continue to receive full pay on pension, others like Judge Brown preside over hearings on a part-time basis. He no longer sits over long trials and avoids civil cases, favouring short criminal trials.
When will he quit? His judicial colleagues are empowered to vote to remove any judge who suffers from a disability, however, he has asked his judicial brothers and sisters to let him know when it is time to go.
Somehow I suspect he will continue until he breaks the record, unless the good Lord steps in sooner, and then he’ll preside over the big courtroom in the sky.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang