In one seemingly small sentenc- ing decision last month, Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Judge Maureen Sweeney made one symbolically large and meaningful contribution to the noble ideals of American jurisprudence: preserving order in the court and respecting the principle of fair, efficient and timely administration of justice.
Judge Sweeney in late July sentenced Talawrence Brooks to seven years in prison on an aggravated robbery charge. He likely would have received the four-year sentence recommended by prosecutors had he not snubbed his nose at court decorum by skipping his original sentencing date in May.
Her decision to extend Brooks’ sentence serves as a strong example of a judge taking proper charge to assert the respect and demeanor that a courtroom requires.
Such no-shows by defendants, police officers, witnesses or others unnecessarily cost our overcrowded court system dearly. They waste time that courts cannot afford to lose. In justice as in anywhere else, time is money, so such delays also sock it to court-funding taxpayers as well.
Judge Sweeney’s action merits commendation because it reinforces the respect and authority that all courts should be afforded, it sends a message that needless backlogs will not be tolerated and it buttresses the goal of fair and timely justice for all. As the old adage aptly puts it, justice delayed is justice denied.