A Jefferson County, Kentucky, judge is making waves among critics and supporters alike after showing her soft side to an inmate facing burglary charges. On Friday, she allowed him to meet and hold his 1-month-old baby son for the first time.
People reports that Judge Amber Wolf made an on-the-spot decision to allow burglary suspect James Roeder to see his son while standing in a Jefferson County district courtroom. His wife, Ashley Roeder, who also faces burglary charges, held the baby while Wolf spoke to James in tender moment captured on court video. When Wolf realized that the father was shipping out to another county to face his trial, and in what she called “probably one of the best things I’ve ever done,” she asked Ashley to bring the baby into the courtroom.
— People Magazine (@people) August 10, 2016
Before she allowed him to hold his child, Wolf told Mr. Roeder to keep quiet about his court trial, reminding him that his attorney wasn’t present.
“I don’t want you to say anything about your case at all. Don’t say anything. Your lawyer is not present right now. But I understand that there is a chance that you’re going to go back to Todd County, and your baby is a month old, and you haven’t met that baby yet. Is that right?”
The defendant answered with a quiet “yes ma’am,” and Wolf asked Ashley to bring the baby to his father, but she reminded both defendants that they’re under a strict “no contact” rule that she only lifted temporarily.
“I know you have a no-contact order between you and Mrs. Roeder that I issued — and I am not changing that. I’m making a temporary exception right in front of me, on the record, so that you can meet this baby. This is your son.”
I love Judge Amber Wolf and all the ways she employs tact and kindness in her courtroom https://t.co/RVqFR2CV7Q
— Rowaida Abdelaziz (@Rowaida_Abdel) August 10, 2016
Roeder held the baby close for a few minutes and gave him a kiss on the forehead before passing his son back to his mother. He used his shirt to wipe away tears after meeting his baby boy, while Judge Wolf handed out tissues to the teary-eyed couple. Smiling, the judge told the bailiff,
“Give everybody some.”
WDRB reports that after the emotional incident, Wolf opened up on how she learned that Roeder hadn’t met his son yet.
“I saw her (Ashley Roeder) try to hold the baby up when he came out for his case to be called with his attorney. And I thought that he hadn’t seen that. And it occurred to me after we finished this case that he had not met his baby — who was 30 days old — and that he was not going to get an opportunity to meet his baby anytime in the near future.”
Despite some harsh criticism from a few people who felt the suspect shouldn’t have the privilege of meeting his son, Wolf stood firm in her decision. She said that it wasn’t really a judge thing, but more so a “human thing,” and something she would do again, given the circumstances of the case, the suspect, and his future.
“It wasn’t really a judge thing. I think it was just more of a human thing. He hadn’t met his baby. And I could see that his wife wanted him to see the baby. And I know from previous interactions from Mr. Roeder that he had been very concerned about being able to meet his baby prior to it being born. And I just saw an opportunity that I didn’t want to squander.”
— Dr Keri Nixon (@NixonKeri) August 9, 2016
This isn’t the first time Wolf has shown a soft spot for defendants. Earlier this year, she was infuriated when a female defendant was presented in her court room without any pants on. Apparently, the Metro Corrections inmate was brought to court without pants on because the jail “refused to give her pants and any kind of hygiene products that she needed.” The Kentucky judge demanded that the inmate be given “something to cover up with” and apologized to her for the embarrassment.
[Photo by iStock/Getty Images]