Comment on Judge Taylor's attitude to his job. Does he take the trial seriously or not in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Judge Taylor does not seem to be taking the trial seriously, but he is.

Judge Taylor seems to be very laid back in the courtroom.  In fact, he often seems to be asleep.  However, he takes trials very seriously.  Lawyers discover this when they make the mistake of thinking he is asleep.  Although he seems to run the courtroom in a loose way, he is actually very aware of everything that is happening, and even kicks out a man, Link Deas, for talking out of turn.  He is worried about a mistrial.

“Link Deas," he yelled, "if you have anything you want to say you can say it under oath and at the proper time, but until then you get out of this room, you hear me? (Ch. 19)

Judge Taylor may be a “sleepy old shark,” but he is alert.  He may be lulling people into a false sense of security.  He actually knows everything that happens in this courtroom, and is very fair.  Scout calls his style one of “alarming informality,” but he gets things done just the same (Ch. 16).  Atticus seems to respect him.

Judge Taylor takes a little more heavy-handed approach at times during Tom Robinson’s trial because it is an important one, for example, during Heck Tate’s testimony.

Judge Taylor broke in. "He's answered the question three times, Atticus. He didn't call a doctor."

Atticus said, "I just wanted to make sure, Judge," and the judge smiled. (Ch. 17)

Atticus and Judge Taylor understand and appreciate each other, and Atticus knows that the judge is paying attention and doesn’t resent his intervention.  This is what a good judge does.  Judge Taylor is a good judge.  As the trial continues, it becomes clearer to Scout that Taylor is a good judge.  He is doing is best to make sure Tom Robinson gets a fair trial.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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