“I HAVE JUST SIGNED YOUR DEATH WARRANT…”
With these words, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentenced Lawrence (Larry) Nasser to imprisonment for up to 175 years stating it was her “honor and privilege” to do so. Nasser had pled guilty to seven counts of sexual abuse, the victims being young athletes who sought his treatment as physician for the American gymnastics team.
The sentencing hearing was streamed over the Internet as over 150 alleged victims of Nasser were permitted to address him, many of whom had never been previously identified. While his crimes were despicable and worthy of harsh censure, one must question the wisdom of turning the courtroom into a stage for the mass denunciation of a lone accused. Then, in pronouncing sentence, Judge Aquilina exalted in the “signing” of a “death warrant” rather than show a modicum of reserve when sending this defendant to prison for the rest of his life.
Court proceedings can at times, appear theatrical. However a judge is much more than a stage manager. The court must endeavor to keep the process fair and solemn. Judge Aquilina misapprehended her responsibilities. Unfortunately, she chose to become a spokesperson for Nasser’s victims and many alleged victims, casting aside her role as an independent and impartial arbiter