Judge Thorne back on the bench
Plenty of familiar faces in District Court
By Coretta Allen “From Sea to Shining Sea” After a week-long vacation spent off on a Caribbean cruise, Judge Fred Thorne was back in full effect on Monday, back to the old routine. Every court day starts out with the judge explaining how to plead.
“You plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest,” he told the courtroom and inmates.
He then explained how to appeal, if necessary, going on to say that trial dates are either on Mondays or Tuesdays.
“You don’t have to worry about Wednesdays, Thursdays or Fridays,” said Judge Thorne. “After given your court date, make a copy of it. That way you’ll have two. You borrow some of that gray duct tape from one of your older relatives, tape one to your refrigerator, and the other in the bathroom. Hopefully, you go to both places every day. That way you won’t forget. Surely, you’ll go to at least one of those places” “The Gambler” Court began with inmates from the county jail, who usually have to talk to the public defender. The first man called up was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia “I bet you were at the dog track,” said the judge.
“Yes, sir,” the man answered.
About five or six others were also there for either loitering or trespassing at the casino, including one man who had been banned since last year and decided to try his luck.
“You are not allowed there anymore,” Judge Thorne told the man. He also noted the man hadn’t been paying his fines and that the man was gambling with his money, not his own, drawing laughter from the crowd.
The next man had a different dilemma, as he had tried his hand at a little cheating on the blackjack tables, but that did not work out for him.
“Don’t you know that’s impossible with all those cameras they have in a casino?” the judge asked him. The man nodded and agreed before being handed $400 in fines and court costs.
“Happy ‘Veterans’ Day” Judge Thorne’s memory is pretty sharp when recognizing cases, faces and names, as everyone should know by now. He referred to many inmates as “veterans” of the court.
“I’ve been seeing some of them for 25 years,” said the judge, reminding one man how he always told the judge he was “picked on” when he was younger.
“I need help,” he told the judge.
“I told you that back then,” said Judge Thorne.
“And you still do now.”
“Slow Rollin’” Several people were on the docket for speeding tickets, with many trying to convince the judge that their speedometers had defects.
One school teacher plead guilty. Judge Thorne thanked her for her 27 and-a-half years of service and let her go. The others were not as fortunate and received small fines.
“The Lecturing Judge” For those who are battling drug addiction, Judge Thorne wants to help by offering them assistance through Harbor House, the Justice Network or probation services. He told defendants with DUI charges about a man who killed three people while driving drunk during the judge’s tenure as a prosecuting attorney. He advised one young man to straighten up, “for your children, at least.”
A 53-year-old lady before the judge on drug charges was told to get help before her parents pass away.
A Memphis woman was offered jail time or house arrest.
“I’ll take the house arrest for $200, Alex!” she told the judge.
Several teens were in jail on drug charges. One of them had no parent present. The judge used the time to caution the young men about obeying the law, respecting their parents and staying in school.
“Next time you’re in court and you see the guy with the black robe on and you think he’s a bit mean, just remember he could be saving your life with those seemingly harsh words,” Thorne told them.
Words of wisdom from a guy with a big heart that sometimes seems to go unnoticed.