Who presides over Tom's trial in To Kill a Mockingbird?
Judge John Taylor presides over Tom Robinson’s trial.
Judge Taylor is a very good judge, but he does not look it. In fact, he is described as “looking like a sleepy old shark” rather than an alert and conscientious judge. Although he might chew on a cigar or clean his fingernails in court, or even appear asleep, he always pays attention.
He was a man learned in the law, and although he seemed to take his job casually, in reality he kept a firm grip on any proceedings that came before him. (ch 16)
Judge Taylor is aware of how important Tom Robinson’s trial is, which is why he chooses Atticus Finch to defend him. He knows that Atticus will give him a vigorous defense, black or white.
During the trial, Judge Taylor keeps a close watch on the proceedings. He enforces order, and keeps the witnesses—mainly Bob Ewell and his daughter—in line. He makes sure that as much of an honest and fair trial as Tom can get, he gets.
The trial is held in the courtroom of Judge John Taylor. Judge Taylor is an interesting character. He often appears to be asleep on the bench during trials in his courtroom, but he isn't asleep. He never misses a thing. Scout tells us that on one occasion, a lawyer thought Judge Taylor was asleep and pushed a pile of books onto the floor to wake the judge up. Judge Taylor didn't open his eyes while he threatened the lawyer with a $100 fine if he did it again. Scout describes Judge Taylor as "a sleepy old shark."
Judge Taylor is a good man who appointed Atticus to represent Tom Robinson because he knew Atticus would work hard to give Tom a strong legal defense. Mr. Gilmer is the lawyer who acted as prosecutor in Tom's trial.