a courtrooms can be theater. judges, even when court is not officially in session, often will don their robe to meet with parties. the robe wearing is meant to convey the encounter’s seriousness. these informal meetings are commonly referred to as “kabuki theater.”
“the term “kabuki is a form of classical theater in japan known for its elaborate costumes and dynamic acting. the phrase kabuki theater…[is] sometimes used in political discourse to describe an event characterized more by showmanship than by content.” dictionary.com
mr. darrell brooks, jr., the accused of the waukesha christmas parade massacre, had his bail hearing and theater. in light of his charged crimes’ severity, 6 homicides, the bail ruling was pre-determined; a large bail amount was to be assigned.
to perpetrate this theater and to avoid possible appeal, the prosecutor laid out the extensive laundry list of mr. brooks’ encounters with both the criminal and civil justice systems.
after hearing of mr. brooks’ legal encounters and the crimes charged, waukesha county court commissioner kevin costello stated “i’ve not seen anything like this in my very long career.” he indicated that it appeared to be “a very strong case for the state.” he indicated “it’s an extraordinarily serious case with an extraordinary history of this gentleman of fleeing, of hurting people, of not following court orders, not following criminal laws, not following, just, your societal norms,” costello said. “so i know that that’s extraordinarily high bail. it’s warranted.” newsweek.com
at that moment, it was perhaps time to end the theater. at this televised hearing, it would have be refreshing if the commissioner broke from the script and discussed how our society and everyday life was impacted by the justice system’s poor decisions.
commissioner costello could have stepped away from the drama and offered up to society and the justice system the following questions:
“how did we get here?”
“how did the justice system fail to protect mr. brooks’ family, friends, and the public from him?”
“how was he allowed to operate a motor vehicle when he had already been accused of trying to run over and kill someone with one?” jsonline
“do we really serve society by treating adults like children?”
“should society pay for the courts’ self-inflicted wounds or should the courts be held accountable for their poor judgment?”
“do we, the state’s courts, owe an apology to those in waukesha?”
laying out these questions would have made the moment real for all those involved.
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