What role does Judge Taylor play in the outcome of the trial?
While no judge should influence the outcome of a trial over which he sits, Judge Taylor has done what he can to ensure that suspect Tom Robinson is afforded a fair trial. For, he has assigned Atticus Finch as defender of Robinson, knowing that Atticus has the moral integrity to do his best in defending Tom against the charges brought by the Ewells. Thus, Atticus Finch becomes the spokesman of the moral philosophy of "To Kill a Mockingbird"as he questions Mayella and leads her to demonstrate her false testimony as well as interrogating Tom in such a way that the man's gentle nature is demonstrated.
In addition, Judge Taylor is
a man learned in the law, and although he seemed to take his job casually, in reality he kept a firm grip on any proceeding that came before him.
As a judge in charge of his courtroom, Judge Taylor makes certain that justice is served; When, for example, he thinks Atticus should make an objection to the prosecutor in Chapter 17, he asks, "Any questions, Atticus?" and Atticus responds to the cue: "Yes...."
Then, when Bob Ewell takes the stand, Judge Taylor stares at him "as if he were some fragrant gardenia in full bloom on the witness stand." Others in the courtroom notice the reaction of the judge and hear him respond to Bob Ewell's "What so interestin'?" with the remark, "You're left-handed, Mr. Ewell." This remark should make the jury aware of the fact later that Tom Robinson could not have beaten Mayella because his left arm is withered.
When Mayella is caught in her lie about Tom, she starts to cry, but Judge Taylor warns her sternly, "Don't you cry, young woman," knowing that she might elicit sympathy from the jury. In this warning and in his remarks, Judge Taylor proves himself a shrewd judge, and, while he does not attempt to sway the jury or do anything illegal, he is yet quick to remark at opportune times for justice to be served.
Judge Taylor serves mostly as mediator and facilitator for the trial, as he does not posit his own opinions into the proceedings, but serves instead as referee between the defense and the prosecution.
The stern Judge Taylor does not permit outbursts in his courtroom, as he threatens at one point to "clear the whole courtroom" if there is any such commotion. We see that Judge Taylor is trying his hardest to keep an objective distance from the whole mess of the trial in the first place, but serves well in the capacity of courtroom manager.