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March 22, 2013 - Robert "Bubba" Kapral
SUNDAY morning offered the best in reality television. Unfortunately, the subject matter was quite disturbing, that being the Steubenville teen rape trial. Judge Thomas Lipps, after four days of testimony and closing arguments wrapped up late Saturday night, announced he would render his verdicts Sunday at 10 a.m. The court session started several minutes later than scheduled, but it only added to the tension. From the moment Judge Lipps commenced speaking, the proceedings were simply riveting. It is well-chronicled now that Judge Lipps found the two Steubenville High athletes delinquent, which is guilty in juvenile court terminology. Their sentences, which many believe are light, also are common knowledge. Disposition of the case on live television served as the ideal emotional climax to a community-dividing scenario, playing out since mid-August. I came to view Judge Lipps as the perfect judicator. When delivering his remarks Sunday, Judge Lipps did so with a calming approach, putting opposing sides both at ease. He was stern, fair and compassionate all rolled into one. I haven't heard one negative word about his handling of the case. Another individual who earned my praise for his court presence was attorney Sam Madison, who represented Ma'lik Richmond. He seemed that he really cared about his client. So much so, he got choked up delivering his plea for leniency. Madison was more than an attorney just picking up a huge paycheck. He was a friend, advisor and comforter to his client. If I ever need attorney, Madison may get the call. But as much as Lipps and Madison weaved their charismatic magic, the show stopper was Richmond's tearful and emotionally charged apology to the defendant and her family as he stalked the courtroom. He was dripping with sincerity. It was the exclamation point on more than six months of emotional turmoil in the Big Red city. Some normalcy will begin to return to Steubenville in the coming days and weeks. The big factor in the conciliatory process, however, is how a special grand jury in April to deal with the case plays out. It could open reopen wounds that are finally beginning to heal.
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